The Bears had their best performance of the year heading into their bye week, which was a mixed blessing.
On the one hand, it was a nice game to put fans at ease and squash two weeks of ‘what’s wrong with the Bears’ and other such sports radio nonsense. Likely they would’ve revolved around Mitch Trubisky and his growth.
The other side of it though was disappointing because now there is genuine excitement for Bears games, so having to wait a whole other week to watch a game and have something fresh to talk about was a bummer.
Hopefully, fans spent some time with their loved ones and the people that are typically ignored in favor of the Bears and now can return to their couches for latter three-fourths of the NFL season.
This week the Bears are heading to Miami to face the Dolphins, with former Bears coaches Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains on the opposing sideline. It should be a good road test for the Bears, but on paper, Miami is reeling after a 3-0 start.
I always say, weird things happen when these two teams meet. Whether it was 1985 or 2006, there have been some upsets by the Dolphins and a lot of blowouts. Nine of the 12 meetings between these teams was decided by two or more scores.
Hopefully the Bears are on the correct side of any lopsided score this weekend.
SB Nation site: The Phinsider
Game day/time/TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX
Last week: 27-17 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati. The Dolphins led 17-0 at one point
Bears all-time record against: 4-8 (For more on that check out Jack’s piece)
Last meeting: 27-14 loss to the Dolphins at Soldier Field in 2014. That was the game Brandon Marshall melted down after and began the awful spiral toward the end of the Marc Trestman era.
Historical match ups: The Bears have had some clunkers against the Dolphins, again, check out Jack’s piece. Everyone knows about 1985, so I’ll mention 2006, when the 7-0 Bears hosted Miami and Ronnie Brown went wild. Brown had 157 rushing yards and Rex Grossman threw three picks.
Offense: The Dolphins come in ranked 30th in offensive yards and 28th in points.
Former Bears offensive coordinators Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains can’t manage to get more out of their offense than the 28th most passing yards or 22nd most rushing yards.
Miami has the least passing attempts in the league and ranks near the bottom in several offensive categories, according to Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post:
Miami Dolphins offense: PPG (29th), YPG (30th), 3rd downs (29th), TOP (31st)— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 8, 2018
The Dolphins are led by Ryan Tannehill (65.9 cmp./972 yds./8 TDs/5 INTs), who may finally be on his last leg as a starting QB.
Catching his passes are Albert Wilson (17 rec./204 yds./2 TDs), Danny Amendola (16/151/0), Kenny Stills (14/241/3) and Jakeem Grant (11/152/2).
Running the ball are veteran Frank Gore (47 car./202 yds./0 TDs) and Kenyan Drake (39/153/1). Drake has also added 17 receptions for 124 yards and a TD as a pass catcher.
Numbers-wise, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference from what Loggains was doing with the Bears last year, except that his QB has more experience and better weapons.
Defense: The Dolphins defense ranks 16th in points allowed and 22nd in yards.
However, their pass defense is one of the best units in the league, while they rank 20th in pass yards allowed, they have allowed the third-fewest touchdown passes (3) and have the most interceptions in the league (10).
The rush defense ranks 20th in yards allowed but has faced the fewest rushing attempts against them and are allowing a middling 3.7 YPC.
That said, this defense gave up 52 points over the first three games of the season and has given up 65 points in the past two weeks.
They lack a dangerous pass rush, having notched just eight sacks, which leads them tied for the third-fewest in the league.
The defense is led by LB Kiko Alonso (33 tkls/2 FF/ 2 INTs), rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (15 tkls/3 PDs/1 INT) and Xavien Howard (3 INTs/5 PDs). Reshad Jones is the other safety and he’s a playmaker too (2 INTs/4 PDs/2 TFL).
Miami has two players with two sacks each; Jerome Baker (2 TFL, 2 QB hits) and William Hayes (3 TFL, 2 QB hits) and four with one each. Cameron Wake (1 sack/1 TFL/3 QB hits) and Robert Quinn (1/1/3) are among those four.
Injury report: The Dolphins listed 16 players on their Thursday injury report. For brevity, I am only going to list those that weren’t full participants during Thursday’s practice:
Limited: LB Chase Allen (foot), DE Andre Branch (knee), TE A.J. Derby (foot), WR Jakeem Grant (shoulder), WR DeVante Parker (quadricep), TE Durham Smythe (ankle), OT Laremy Tunsil (concussion)
Did not participate: RB Frank Gore (Not injury related), CB Bobby McCain (knee), DE Cameron Wake (knee)
Key match ups: The Bears receivers are going to be tested against this secondary and Mitch Trubisky is going to have his decision making tested.
Miami clearly has some ballhawks in their secondary and as a team have forced a turnover in every game this year.
On defense, the Bears secondary will want to avoid getting beat deep by Kenny Stills. Gase, like Nagy, is good at spreading the ball around; six Dolphins already have touchdown catches and five have double-digit receptions already.
Tannehill has been sacked 11 times and with Tunsil on the injury report and a couple of other OL starters already on IR, there will be some chances to get pressure on Tannehill and make him uncomfortable.
What to watch for: Let’s see how the Bears come out of the bye week and see if they can come out with a strong performance on the road and keep the good plays going.
If the Bears are going to be a true playoff team, this is a game that they need to win.
Key stats: Both defenses have 11 takeaways, but the Bears are +6 in the turnover margin, while Miami is +2
The Dolphins have the most interceptions in the league with 10, the Bears are tied for third with eight
The last time the Bears beat the Dolphins on a Sunday was Nov. 13, 1994
Miami scored 75 points in the first three games of the season but have scored just 24 in the last two games
The Bears scored 63 points in the first three games of the year but scored 48 in their fourth game
The Dolphins are 30th with 15.4 first downs per game. The Bears allow 15.5 first downs per game, first in the league.
Prediction: I feel like weird things happen when these two teams meet. There have been a lot of lopsided scores or they were decided by a field goal. No in between. I think it will be closer than Bears fans want it to be but I think they win 24-23. To see my pick against the spread and the O/U, click here to see my article on Sports Bet Collective (first article is free with sign up).
Do you think the Bears can win Sunday?