The Chicago Bears are looking for their first 4-game winning streak since the 2012 season. That feels like a really, really long time ago. The fact that the Bears are in this position, with such a young, controllable team should make everyone feel pretty giddy. The biggest hurdle might not actually be Ryan Tannehill, Robert Quin, Adam Gase, or this Dolphins team at all. History is not on the Bears side in this game.
If we look at the early season DVOA—provided by Football Outsiders—for both teams, this looks like the opposite of the Bucs game. The Bears are 1st in defensive DVOA, while Miami checks in at 5th. The Bears are 17th offensively, with the Dolphins right behind them at 18. This seems like 2 very similar teams, on paper. The difference is that this Dolphins teams is more polished, while the Bears have plenty of room to grow on both sides of the ball. Will the more talented team (Bears) or the more polished team (Dolphins) win this one?
So far through 4 games, the Bears seem to have the slight advantage and this is what I will be watching for:
What to Watch For
On offense, it will start up front, as it always does. Unless it rains, which is always a possibility in Florida, I don’t expect the Bears to grind out the game on the ground. That really isn’t Matt Nagy’s style. I also expect the Dolphins to blitz heavily for the second consecutive week. It is difficult to beat the blitz with the running game, so it is going to come down to Nagy’s preparation and play-calling, and Mitch Trubisky’s execution of the offense. But first, he is going to need time to hit his hot receivers.
Many folks are calling for a huge game from Jordan Howard, I just don’t see it, mainly because I expect teams to blitz the Bears heavily. Where I think Howard might surprise is on the passing game. If the Dolphins do blitz, look for Howard to get a lot of touches as a receiver this week, as well as Cohen. With Miami’s ballhawking ways, Look for Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller to get the lion’s share of the targets and Allen Robinson to be the decoy. Gabriel and Miller have been the most “open” so far this season and I expect the Trubisky to have ball security as priority number one against the NFL’s leader in interceptions.
Defensively, it will also start up front. Miami’s offensive line is beat up and they were all that great to begin with. It looks like Laremy Tunsil is going to play this week, but with the NFL’s Concussion Protocol, you never really know. If he does, I expect Khalil Mack to lineup on his usual defensive left alignment, but if Tunsil doesn’t play, Mack will be a chess piece all game long, searching for any weakness he can exploit. Also, I like the sound of an angry Akiem Hicks:
Akiem Hicks on his mindset this week after not getting suspended and being able to play against the Dolphins:— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) October 11, 2018
“Destroy. Destroy everything."
The Dolphins don’t have much of a running game and the Bears have the 3rd best run defense by DVOA. I expect them to throw the ball. If Tannehill has to throw, and the Bears can pressure him, he will throw the ball up for grabs. He completely fell apart in the second half against an inferior Bengals defense. If the Bears come out angry, they might just destroy everything.
That’s what I will be watching for on Sunday afternoon, what about you? The Bears steamrolled the Bucs before the bye, but will they stay hot or will the forecasted rain cool them off?
Watch out for my ‘which players to watch for’ coming later today.