Sunday's Game Against the Ravens Will be a Great Indication of Where the Bears are at
This week's game isn't just important because the Chicago Bears need a win to stay within striking distance of the Detroit Lions, or because they are hosting the defending Super Bowl champions, but because the Baltimore Ravens are very similar to the Bears and how Chicago plays in this game will tell a lot about where the Bears are at.
The Bears and Ravens really are almost mirror images of each other. Both offenses are led by workhorse running backs in Matt Forte and Ray Rice who are big playmakers in both the running and passing attacks. While Forte has outperformed Rice so far this season, Forte has 1,023 yards from scrimmage compared to Rice's 450, both offenses revolve around these players. Both of these offenses also have quarterbacks who have had disappointing seasons.
Jay Cutler of Chicago has again been plagued by injuries and will miss his second game of the season this Sunday. Baltimore's Joe Flacco has accounted for more turnovers (two fumbles lost, 11 interceptions) than touchdowns (12) so far this year. The similarities really become eerie when considering the lack of efficiency displayed this season by two traditionally stout defenses.
The Ravens are 15th in total defense and the Bears are 26th in the same category. Chicago is allowing 27 points per game, Baltimore 21. While the Bears have surpassed the Ravens in forcing turnovers 20 to 12, Baltimore's defense is much more healthy than Chicago's. The challenges for both teams are similar offensively and defensively.
Both offenses must take advantage of the mismatches that Forte and Rice create and put the balls in their hands often. If the Bears can also get solid performances from their wide receiver duo of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, that will make life even easier for Forte. Defensively the Bears must try to create turnovers while limiting the damage Rice does to them.
If the Bears are successful in utilizing Forte and getting turnovers from the Baltimore Ravens, they can feel confident about their chances of nabbing one of the NFC's two wild card spots. However, if Chicago fails to execute, it will be a clear sign that improvement is needed on both sides of the ball.