Chicago Bears: 6 Critical Match-Ups vs. Cardinals
The Chicago Bears will try to keep their playoff hopes alive when they travel to Arizona to face the Arizona Cardinals. Both of these teams have woeful offensive lines, so parents who have kids that aspired to be a NFL offensive lineman someday, this is not the game for them to take notes from. The Bears defensive line once again has a favorable match-up against its opponent o-line.
With the Bears offense struggling to score points, the d-line has an opportunity to get to a struggling quarterback in Ryan Lindley and force him to make some bad decisions with the football. On the flipside, the Bears o-line has to allow Jay Cutler time to go through his progression.
Like the Cardinals secondary did with Calvin Johnson last week, you can fully expect them to have Patrick Peterson shadow Brandon Marshall all over the field with a safety bracketing him. Cardinals defense prime focus is going to be shutting down Johnson, so other receivers will need to step it up.
This is a winnable game for the Bears against one of the worst teams in the league. If the Bears lose this game, the playoff window will most likely be closed shut, and head coach Lovie Smith is likely to lose his job at the end of the season. A lot is riding on this game for the coaching staff and players.
Here’s a look at six match-ups that is critical to a Bears victory Sunday.
Alshon Jeffery vs. William Gay
As I’ve mention in the introduction, the Cardinals will attempt to shutdown Brandon Marshall with bracket coverage. Marshall will get very few one-on-one opportunities against Patrick Peterson. Another wide receiver will need to step up, and the Bears hope that guy is Alshon Jeffery who draws a favorable match-up against veteran William Gay.
The Bears know what kind of WR Jeffery can develop into and the young WR has these remaining two games to show coaches and Phil Emery why they invested so much in him.
Jonathan Scott vs. Calais Campbell
J.J. Watt is arguably the best 3-4 five technique in the league; Calias Campbell is not that far behind him. Campbell is a great pass rusher for his size (6-8 300 pounds), and is a monster in run support. Jonathan Scott has been one of the few bright spots on the Bears offensive line and he will get his dose of Campbell this Sunday. Scott needs to have a good performance if the Bears have any chance running on the strong side of the field.
Roberto Garza and Chris Spencer vs. Daryl Washington
Another great player on that defense besides Patrick Peterson and Calais Campbell is inside line-backer Daryl Washington. Washington is an incredible blitzer from the position and is stout against the run. Going into Sunday, Washington has 115 tackles and nine sacks. Roberto Garza and Chris Spencer will have to locate #58 before every snap as Washington is quickly becoming the team’s best defensive player.
Julius Peppers vs. Nate Potter
Julius Peppers had a great game last week against Green Bay Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Peppers had five tackles with 1.5 of those tackles going for sacks. Peppers has another favorable match-up this week against rookie LT Nate Potter. In only five career starts, Potter has played well but Peppers is a skilled veteran that should give Potter a tough time all throughout the game.
Corey Wootton vs. Bobby Massie
Another defensive end for the Bears that had a great game is Corey Wootton who also had 1.5 sacks. The defensive end dominated his match-up against Packers right tackle Don Barclay. Wootton has another chance to add to his sack total this Sunday against the struggling Bobby Massie. Wootton has overwhelmed opposing offensive tackles with his size and speed off the edge.
If the Bears want to win this game they have to get after the quarterback and force him into some ill-advised throws. Off the edge gives them a good opportunity to do that.
Charles Tillman vs. Larry Fitzgerald
Charles Tillman hasn’t had a good few weeks after getting off to a hot start. Tillman was once considered a defensive player of the year candidate but his play has tailed off. Instead of the DPOY candidate he has looked like in the first 10 weeks of the season, Tillman has looked like the player fans worried about in that third preseason game.
Tillman face a player in Larry Fitzgerald who has struggle against in the past. Tillman can get some respect back with a solid game against one of the league’s best wide receivers.