Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals: Three Key Match-Ups
As Lovie Smith stated this week, the tournament starts now for the Bears, they need to win their final two games to have a chance of making the Play-Offs, starting with the Arizona Cardinals.
The two teams have not met since 2009 when the Cardinals beat the Bears 41-21 at Soldier Field, although the Bears do lead the overall series 55-27-6.
The 5-9 Cardinals are, like the Bears, a team built on defense. This could be a low scoring one with both teams’ offenses really struggling.
Both teams are experts in taking the ball away and the game may come down to whoever wins the turnover battle.
The Bears will be missing Brian Urlacher and potentially Henry Melton, a huge blow for the defense, but they do welcome back Geno Hayes and maybe Tim Jennings who is questionable.
The Cardinals have won only one of their last ten games, and the Bears have won one of their last six. It is two of the NFL’s most out of form teams going up against each other, but the Bears should get the win if they get the best of these three match-ups:
Brandon Marshall vs Patrick Peterson: Marshall is the Bears’ key player so whoever he is up against is going to be one of the key match-ups. He will have his hands full with Peterson though, the second year cornerback is playing the best football at his position in the NFL – that’s according to Brandon Marshall himself. Peterson has seven interceptions this season, one behind Tim Jennings who still leads the league with eight. The Cardinals have the fourth best pass defense in the league, the Bears will need to get Marshall involved to get any sort of success through the air.
Matt Forte vs Cardinals run defense: With the Bears passing offense struggling (currently ranked 28th in the NFL) they may need to rely on the run game for offensive success. Forte has not had a 100-yard game since the win over the Tennessee Titans on November 4, but the run blocking from the offensive line has been poor this season. With the Cardinals ranked 28th in the NFL in run defense and giving up an average of 136.5 yards per game on the ground, it seems the Bears’ best chance for offensive success is through the run game. However they will be without Michael Bush who has been placed on injured reserve, Armando Allen and recently re-signed Kahlil Bell will be the back-up RBs for the game.
Larry Fitzgerald vs Charles Tillman: Fitzgerald is comfortably the Cardinals most talented player on offense, his 61 receptions for 674 yards and four touchdowns at this stage of the year is below average for his standard, but he has been hampered by poor QB play. Tillman will likely follow Fitzgerald all around the field as he usually does with the opposition’s #1 receiver and this will be a great match-up. If the Bears can take Fitzgerald out of the game then that could force the Cardinals to look to the run game, which is currently ranked last in the NFL.