Bears skating on thin ice entering Week 13 matchup vs. Cardinals
TEMPE — It’s been a season to forget for the Chicago Bears.
After manufacturing a 3-2 record through the first five weeks of the season, the Bears dropped their next five matchups, including a 38-3 drumming at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7.
Chicago managed to stop the bleeding in Week 12, though not by much, taking a 16-14 victory over the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions. The win gives the team the thinnest sliver of playoff hope for the time being.
This Sunday, the Bears get a 9-2 Arizona Cardinals team looking to improve their playoff seeding. The Bears are going from worst to first and not in a good way.
On top of taking on the league’s best in Arizona, they have to turn to backup quarterback Andy Dalton for Sunday’s meeting with rookie signal caller Justin Fields (ribs) ruled out by head coach Matt Nagy on Friday.
While Dalton has struggled for most of his time on the field this season, he did turn in a 300-yard, one-score performance in the win over the Lions.
Even with the outing, Chicago is still at the bottom of the NFL barrel in terms of passing yards per game with 169.8.
Not all is wrong with the Bears offense, though, which boasts the eighth-best rushing attack in the league (126.3 yards per game) behind David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.
Over seven games played, Montgomery has rushed for 476 yards and three touchdowns on 113 carries. Herbert has chipped in another 373 yards and a score on 90 attempts over 11 outings. Both backs are north of four yards per carry.
The pair is likely in for a heavy workload on Sunday, which will have to navigate without its third highest rusher on the team in Fields (311 yards and two touchdowns) as well as the cold weather that is expected to hit Soldier Field.
Chicago also has a threat through the air in wideout Darnell Mooney, who paces the team in catches (46), yards (694) and touchdowns (3).
“They have a lot of good skill guys,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Thursday. “Montgomery is an NFL back that runs hard and breaks tackles. … They got a receiver in Mooney, who I think has had back-to-back 100-yard games. You watch him, he’s a playmaker. It’s amazing when you don’t see teams every single week or every couple weeks.
“There’s so many good players in this league. Every team’s got them. The challenge is gonna be … defeat what they do best and make them one-dimension and play on our terms. … It won’t be easy, it never is.”
The name of the game for the Cardinals for most of the season has been to stop the run. That couldn’t be more true in Week 13.