Tomorrow, the Baltimore Ravens face off against the Chicago Bears in a crucial battle for both teams. On one hand, you have the 3-2 Ravens. The Ravens are looking to prove that they can continue to play at a high level on offense, just as they did against the Raiders last week. Baltimore is currently tied for first place in the AFC North division. A victory would either keep them tied with the Steelers or give them sole possession of first place. The Bears, on the other hand, are looking to turn their season around. With just one win, Chicago is on the verge of their season being ruined before it can even get started. The Chicago Bears are currently the only NFC North team with a losing record and are in last place in the division. A loss this Sunday would likely kill any hopes they have left of the postseason. For the Ravens to win this important matchup, they will have to provide strong performances in three, key areas.
Continued Offensive Line Strength
Last week’s victory against the Raiders was spurred on by the outstanding performance by the offensive line. In the first quarter of the season, the offensive line let quarterback Joe Flacco get pressured too often. This led to a subpar performance by the veteran quarterback, and in turn, a bad performance by the Ravens offense. However, when the Ravens offensive line played well, the offense thrived. Joe Flacco had his best game of the season so far, completing 73.1% of his passes, for 222 yards, and no interceptions. The Ravens rushing attack also thrived under the offensive line last week. The Ravens rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Much of the success of the offensive line, can be contributed to Ryan Jensen. The new starting center for the Ravens, Jensen is adapting well to his position. His play has consistently raised in quality, and his presence has positively affected the rest of the players on the offensive line. If the Baltimore Ravens want to win this week against the Bears, the offensive line will need to continue to play strongly.
Pressure Mitchell Trubisky
Last week, I said that for the Ravens to succeed in Oakland, they would need to pressure quarterback EJ Manuel. The same holds true for the Bears, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie quarterback earned his first start in last week’s Monday Night Football game, against the Vikings. In his debut, Trubisky completed 48.0% of his passes, threw one touchdown, and one interception. Trubisky has potential to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. However, he is very inexperienced right now, and the Ravens are bound to take advantage of it. Not only will the Ravens give him confusing looks in the secondary, but they will pressure him with the pass rush. Forcing the rookie quarterback into making quick decisions will benefit the Ravens defense and likely cause turnovers. If the Ravens want to shut down the Bears passing attack, pressuring Trubisky will do the job.
Shut Down Jordan Howard
Last week, the Ravens failed to prove that their run defense without defensive tackle Brandon Williams can be effective. They failed to keep the Raiders running backs, Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard, bottled up. However, they have another opportunity this week, against the Bear’s prolific runner, Jordan Howard. If the Ravens want to clinch this game early, shutting down Jordan Howard would do just that. Without a strong running game, Mitchell Trubisky would have no fail-safe and be thrown into a rookie quarterback panic. The Ravens shutting down Howard isn’t likely, however. The Ravens run defense has been a weak point for the Ravens defense ever since Brandon Williams got hurt. With Williams in the first two games, the Ravens held the Bengals and Browns to a minimal amount of rushing yards. Since losing Williams, however, the Ravens have given up much more yards on the ground. If the Ravens shut down Howard, their winning chance will drastically increase. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to.
Predicting the Ravens vs Bears Game
- Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky will throw two interceptions, one to Eric Weddle, the other to Lardarius Webb.
- Bears RB Jordan Howard will rush for over 70 yards and one touchdown.
- Joe Flacco will throw for two touchdowns, one to Ben Watson, the other to Mike Wallace.
- Buck Allen will have 100 yards from scrimmage. (Receiving + Rushing)
- Justin Tucker will convert on all his kicking attempts.
- Ravens defense sacks Trubisky four times.
FINAL SCORE: Ravens 27 – Bears 20