The Bears have gotten back to winning ways and now go on the road to face a reeling Indianapolis Colts team.
The game should be a popular one for Bears fans, since Indy is just a couple hours down I-65 from Chicago and is a perfectly nice city to spend a couple of days drinking.
If you’re going to Indy, I can personally recommend several microbreweries to you if that’s your game. I also might know a spot or two to get a meal.
As for the game, well this one is right in the "winnable" category for the Bears but in the NFL there are no gimmes and for Chicago, "winnable" doesn’t always translate.
The beloved have suffered another big injury as WR Kevin White landed on IR just when he was starting to show promise. Chicago will also likely be without their starting QB, NT and RB.
If the team is to win on Sunday they will once again have to overcome some key injuries.
Let’s meet the enemy for this week.
SBN Blog: Stampede Blue
Record: 1-3 (Tied for second in AFC South)
Last week: Lost 30-27 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. It wasn’t even as close as the score looks either, the Jags led 23-6 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Bears all-time record against: 19-22 in the regular season. 0-1 postseason.
Historical match ups: That one postseason loss was in Super Bowl XLI. That was pretty historical. The Bears have lost only twice to the Colts since they moved to Indianapolis, once in the Super Bowl and once in 2004.
Last meeting: A 41-21 Bears win in Week 1 of the 2012 season. Andrew Luck threw three interceptions in that game, his first career start. Alshon Jeffery caught his first career touchdown in the contest as well.
Key injuries: WR Donte Moncrief has a shoulder injury and will miss the game, CB Darius Butler and returned to practice in a limited fashion Wednesday but has missed two straight games. RB Frank Gore missed Wednesday practice. Starting offensive linemen Joe Reitz and Denzell Goode were both limited in practice Wednesday.
Offense: The Colts come into the game ranked 17th in offensive yards but rank seventh in points scored, averaging 27 per game. The offense starts and ends with Andrew Luck, the next great QB who has certainly flashed but has also gotten the crap knocked out of him and is surrounded by some questionable talent. The WRs he throws to are solid, starting with T.Y. Hilton (25 rec./336 yds/2 TDs), the speedy little wideout that will be giving Tracy Porter fits all day. Filling in for Moncrief is second-year wideout Phillip Dorsett (9/215/1) and while Dorsett’s speed can be a killer (he leads the league with a 23.9 yards per reception) he has only caught 50 percent of his targets (9 catches on 18 targets). Last season he caught only 46.2 percent of his targets. Josh Ferguson has been the third down back of choice (17/117/0) while Frank Gore (13/66/1) also catches out of the backfield and tight ends Jack Doyle (14/143/2) and Dwayne Allen (11/133/1) round out Luck’s favorite targets.
The Colts have not had a 100-yard rusher in 52 games. That is not good. The Colts come into this game with the sixth-most passing attempts (144) against the 25th-fewest rushing attempts (91) (the Bears are 30th in rushing attempts with 81). The Colts have been passing 65 percent of the time on offense. Although they are still ahead of the Bears in terms of rushing yards (352 to 329) and rushing TDs (4 to 2). Gore leads Indy with 253 yards and two TDs. Robert Turbin, the short yardage back, also has two TDs to go with his 25 rushing yards. Luck can run with the best of them, as evidenced by his 10 rushes for 66 yards.
Defense: This is where a lot of the problems have been for the Colts. The defense ranks 24th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed, surrendering 31.2 points per game to opponents. The Colts are 24th in pass yards allowed and opposing QBs have a 100.4 rating against them, throwing a total of 5 TDs to just 1 INT.
Indy is doing a little better against the run, allowing the 18th fewest yards per game (105.8). They have allowed five rushing scores and are giving up a healthy 4.2 YPC average to opponents.
Erik Walden has been the Colts’ most fearsome pass rusher, notching 4 sacks through the first four games. As a team they have only seven sacks, which is tied for 19th in the league and just one ahead of Chicago’s six.
Key match ups: This game feels a lot like last week: Team with pass-first attack and bad defense against a team that wants to run the ball better and win the time of possession.
The Bears will need to get after Andrew Luck, who has been sacked a league-leading 15 times in four games. The Chicago pass rush has been anemic but this should not be the case against a sorry Colts offensive line. If the Bears still can’t generate a rush this week, then there needs to be some serious questioning, even without Eddie Goldman and a banged up Leonard Floyd. So this is about the Bears front seven vs. the Colts OL.
Downfield, can Porter keep Hilton from getting open? Can Bryce Callahan, Jacoby Glenn and the safeties keep the speedy WRs of Indy in front of them? Those will be the key match ups there.
Look for Jerrell Freeman to have a big day against his former team. He sounded a little, um, bitter, about how things ended. He will be in coverage from time to time against Allen and Doyle, among others.
For the offense, this is about Alshon Jeffery taking advantage of what should be a favorable match up. Yes, the Bears; No. 1 receiver is banged up himself but the Colts have been shredded through the air by opponents. There should be plenty of running room for Jordan Howard again and the Bears need to continue to be run-first but there should be some big plays available downfield for Jeffery.
What to watch for: The Bears finally got an offensive rhythm going against Detroit and will be looking to keep that going against another suspect defense. Colts fans are passionate, but are used to winning so I suspect that Lucas Oil could be up for grabs by a strong traveling Bears fanbase if the road team can jump out to an early lead.
The Bears defense must get some pressure on Luck or he can stand back in the pocket, roll out and scramble for time and pick the Bears apart downfield. He has some decent weapons but he hasn’t had a chance to use them early in games. Luck is very good at bringing teams back from behind, so if the Bears get an early lead they need to keep their foot on the gas and use the run game to keep Luck and the Indy offense on the sideline.
Key stats: Since 2012, Andrew Luck has the most seasons with more than 15 interceptions and more than 10 fumbles.
The last time the Colts had a 100-yard rusher was Vick Ballard in Week 15 of the 2012 season. Don’t believe me? Here is a list of every 100-yard rusher for the Colts since 2012.
The Bears are 1-0 all-time at Lucas Oil Stadium.