Bears Game Day: Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

The Bears are one loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention, but let’s face it, they’re not playing postseason football this year. Chicago currently occupies the 13th seed, but the Giants, who like the Bears are 5-9, hold the tiebreaker edge. That means the Monsters of the Midway have less than a one percent chance of making the playoffs. They’re not out of it, and you can game potential scenarios here, but what’s the point?

The Bears are in evaluation mode, with the biggest questions surrounding Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney, and Jaylon Johnson. Fields is the most polarizing of the three, and fans are divided on his status for next season. Mooney will be a free agent and is unlikely to return. Johnson is at the end of his rookie contract, wants an extension, and could be traded or tagged as a franchise player. GM Ryan Poles started his offseason work a little early by gifting a four-year contract extension to placekicker Cairo Santos.

The Bears tanked last season, and after a very good draft, gave 10 rookies significant playing time this year. Chicago is still rebuilding, but the team’s defense is vastly improved, and Fields is enjoying the best passing year of his career. He and D.J. Moore have established a dominating connection. Cole Kmet is also having a career-best year. GM Ryan Poles could end up with the top pick in next year’s draft courtesy of the Panthers. Things are looking up for the Bears and the team should be ready to legitimately compete for the NFC North title and a playoff berth in 2024.

Matt Eberflus will most likely return, but a strong showing in Chicago’s final three games will go a long way toward locking him in. He’ll need a new defensive coordinator and might need to replace offensive coordinator Luke Getsy if he is dismissed or finds work elsewhere. Getsy could be in line for one of several expected head coaching vacancies. Poles will spend the final three weeks of the season preparing final evaluations on the coaching staff and all of the Bears’ players.

The Bears are penned as 3.5-point home favorites today, with the over/under at 43.5. Chicago is -200 on the money line (bet $200 straight up to win $100).

Field Conditions

It will be 52 degrees at game time with a small chance of rain and lingering morning fog. The turf at Soldier Field is in good shape, and the weather won’t benefit either team. Winds will be SSE at 10 to 15 mph.

Bears Trends

  • The Bears have scored first in nine of their last 17 games.
  • The Bears have rushed for 1,895 yards this season — fifth-most in the NFL. The Cardinals have allowed 1,966 yards rushing — second-most in the league.
  • Chicago is 1-9 against top-10 defenses since 2022, but the Cardinals are ranked 25th this season.
  • The team’s defense has not recorded a sack (71 pass attempts) in the red zone this season.
  • The Bears went three and out on 50% of their drives last week, the worst in the NFL.
  • Fields has succeeded on just 18% of his passing attempts this season while being pressured.
  • The Bears are winless (0-8) when throwing at least 1 interception this season, tied for last in the league.
  • Chicago is 1-9 (.100) when committing 1 or more turnovers this season.
  • The Bears are 5-5 in their last 10 games after an 0-4 start. Two of those wins came against teams very much in the playoff race, Detroit and Minnesota.

Cardinals Trends

  • The Cardinals are winless (0-19) when scoring 22 points or fewer since the start of the 2022 season.
  • Arizona tight ends have averaged 10.8 targets per game with 111 receptions, which leads the league. The Bears have allowed 5.9 receptions per game to opposing tight ends. The Cardinals throw to their tight ends on 33% of their plays.
  • The Cardinals’ defense has allowed a passer rating of 118.5 when blitzing (271 Pass Attempts) since 2022, the worst in the NFL.
  • 20% of the plays run against the Cardinals have been in the red zone this season, with 22% of those coming in the second half. Both are league-worst.
  • The Cardinals are winless (0-5) when losing at least one fumble this season.
  • The Cardinals have thrown for 20+ yards on 27 of 456 (5.9%) attempts this season. The Bears have allowed 20+ yards on just 7.2% of attempts this season.
  • Arizona has just one road win all season.

Why the Bears Will Win

Chicago has become a takeaway machine since trading for and extending Montez Sweat in November. The Bears have also totaled 15 sacks with 14 takeaways in their last five games. Sweat has six of those sacks since coming over from Washington and currently leads both the Commanders and Bears in sacks, an NFL first.

On offense, the Bears have major issues up front with their blocking and have no quality weapons besides Fields and Moore. The third-year quarterback has shown flashes of brilliance at times but remains wildly inconsistent as a passer. Fields is fighting to prove that he is still the answer in Chicago, and is coming off one of the worst games of his professional career. Expect a big rebound this afternoon because the Cardinals are ranked 29th in passing yards allowed

It looks like rookie Roschon Johnson will get the bulk of the carries at running back this afternoon, but Arizona is very stingy against the run, especially in the red zone. The Cardinals are allowing 26.9 points per game, however, and the Bears will win if they score that many points.

Why the Cardinals Will Win

Arizona’s offense has shown signs of life since Kyler Murray returned and with James Conner in the backfield. Tight end Trey McBride has also enjoyed seeing Murray under center. McBride is No. 1 among all NFL tight ends in receptions (38) and receiving yards (425) since Murray made his season debut in Week 10. The Cardinals have nothing to play for and do not seem to be tanking.

That said, Arizona needs turnovers and ball possession to beat the Bears. If the Cardinals’ pass rush can get to Fields and force turnovers, Arizona will pull off the upset. Keeping the score close will also give the Cardinals an edge. They’re 7-7 against the spread this season.

Key Stats

  1. The Bears are the NFL’s fifth-best team against the run but are ranked No. 28 in pass defense.
  2. Chicago has won three of their last five games and has allowed just 77 points (15.4 PPG) in those contests.
  3. The Bears’ defense has not recorded a sack (71 pass attempts) in the red zone this season.
  4. 53% of the plays run against the Cardinals have been in their own territory this season. The league average is 42%.
  5. Like Fields, Murray is playing with something to prove this season because the Cardinals could draft one of the top quarterbacks in next year’s draft. The Cardinals should have a top-three pick.
  6. McBride had 10 receptions for 102 yards in last week’s 45-29 loss to the 49ers. He should have a big day against the Bears today.

Did You Know?

The Cardinals originated in Chicago and both teams are the only two remaining, continuously run franchises since the NFL was chartered in 1920. The Cardinals left Chicago for St. Louis in 1960 and then moved to Arizona in 1987. The franchise has never won a Super Bowl and hasn’t won a league championship since 1947. They’re tied with the Cleveland Guardians for the longest championship drought in professional sports.

Game Day Quote

“I was raised by my grandparents, so they’re very old school, so a lot of old-school habits and morals and principles that I was raised upon. Just ‘yes or no, sir,’ looking a man in the eyes when you talk to him and just being respectful and humble anytime you walk into a room.” – Sweat

Injury Reports

Players of the Game

Fields, Moore, and Mooney will have big games and if Fields surpasses 225 passing yards Chicago will win. Expect another big game by the defense, with Sweat, Jaquan Brisker, and T.J. Edwards doing a lot of the damage. Tyrique Stevenson should also have a big game.


Our own Sean Holland analyzed today’s game and predicted a 27-13 win by the Bears and I am in full agreement. The Bears should greet Christmas with a 6-9 win but will still be eliminated from playoff contention.


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