Sunday could prove to be a turning point for the Chicago Bears season.
A winnable game against an inferior opponent, at home, a rookie quarterback, on the road. If the Bears want to be the team that fans are expecting them to be, that they can and should be, then they should take care of business Sunday.
However, things are never that simple, especially when it comes to the Bears, right?
The New York Jets appear to be a rudderless, banged up team with a struggling rookie quarterback and missing key players. But the Bears also couldn’t beat Brock Osweiler on the road two weeks ago and a defense that had 18 sacks and was giving up barely a couple touchdowns a game suddenly has surrendered 69 points in their last two games.
This is a different opponent, a different week, but will the results be the same infuriating thing we’ve seen the last two weeks or a return to what we want form to be?
New York Jets
SB Nation site: Gang Green Nation
Game Day/Time/TV: Sunday, noon CST, CBS
Last week: 37-17 loss to the Vikings at MetLife
Bears all-time record against: 8-3
Historical match ups: There isn’t a lot of history between these teams, such is the way it is when neither team has a ton of recent playoff experience and the two conferences never really played each other before realignment.
So let’s look at the 2006 game, which was a week 11 meeting.
The 0-0 halftime tie was broken by a Robbie Gould field goal in the third quarter and then a 57-yard Rex Grossman to Mark Bradley at the start of the fourth was enough to seal a 10-0 shutout.
Chad Pennington threw interceptions to Nathan Vasher and Brian Urlacher.
Last meeting: A 27-19 week 3 victory in 2014.
The Bears jumped out early to a 7-0 lead on a Ryan Mundy pick six off Geno Smith on the second play of the game. Alshon Jeffery had 105 yards and Martellus Bennett caught two touchdowns.
The Bears moved to 2-1 on the season and all appeared to be headed in the right direction.
Offense: The Jets come into this game ranked 26th in yards and 13th in points.
Their passing offense ranks 27th in yards while their rushing game is 12th.
No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold (56.1 completion percentage/1,552 yds./10 TD/10 INT) is struggling as rookies often do. His 10 INTs lead the league.
In his last three games he has six TDs and five INTs.
His best receivers are Quincy Enunwa (22 rec./287 yds./1 TD), who is injured, Robby Anderson (17/314/3), Jermaine Kearse (16/165/0) and Terrelle Pryor (14/235/2).
Other receivers of note include TE Christopher Herndon (11/145/2).
The Jets receiving back, Bilal Powell (11/110/1 receiving, 80 att./343 yds./0) went on I.R. this week, leaving leading rusher Isaiah Crowell (81/459/5) as the main running back.
One-time Bears QB coach Jeremy Bates is calling the plays.
Defense: The Jets defense ranks 20th in yards allowed and 17th in points allowed.
They are 21st against the pass and 14th against the run.
Up front they have Leonard Williams (3 sacks/6 TFL/10 QB hits) and Henry Anderson (2.5 sacks/3 TFL/4 QB hits). LBs Jordan Jenkins (2.5 sacks/6 QB hits), Brandon Copeland (2 sacks/5 TFL/8 QB hits) and Avery Williamson (2 sacks/4 TFL/3 QB hits) are lurking too.
In the secondary is Morris Claiborne (2 INTs/9 PDs/2 TFL) playing very well, along with Trumaine Johnson, who is injured, (1 INT/2 PDs) and playmaker Jamal Adams (1 INT/6 PDs/2 FF/6 TFL). LB Darron Lee (3 INT/5 PD/2 TFL) is also making plays.
This is another unit that is going to show Mitch Trubisky a lot of exotic and disguised fronts to throw him off. They have some corners who can play man well and Trubisky has struggled against man coverage.
The Jets have had some struggles but there are some playmakers on the defense, especially in the secondary.
Injury report: The Jets had 14 players on their Wednesday injury report.
Limited: S Marcus Maye (thumb), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot), CB Buster Skrine (concussion)
Did not participate: WR Robby Anderson (ankle), T Kelvin Beachum (back), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder/foot), WR Quincy Enunwa (ankle), CB Trumaine Johnson (quad), LB Darron Lee (illness), C Spencer Long (knee/finger)
Full participation: G James Carpenter (shoulder/ankle), RB Isaiah Crowell (foot), WR Andre Roberts (foot/ankle), DL Leonard Williams (back)
Key match ups: The Jets are very banged up but assuming that at least Claiborne can go, it will be interesting to see how he matches up against Taylor Gabriel (unless Allen Robinson plays and Claiborne flips sides to cover him with Johnson possibly out).
The pass rush should have some opportunities against the Jets, who have allowed 16 sacks, but can the Bears generate a pass rush if Khalil Mack is still hampered by his ankle injury?
What to watch for: Will the Bears finally get back on track after two struggling weeks?
If there was a match up that favored Vic Fangio and the defense to get their game straightened out after two bad games, this is it. The Jets can put up points and with the way the Bears have been gashed by James White and Frank Gore, Crowell could make it a long day.
That said though, the secondary will have some chances, especially if Akiem Hicks can get back on track and maybe Leonard Floyd shows up?
This is another test for Mitch Trubisky to play soundly and take care of the football because Jamal Adams will be lurking back there waiting for an errant throw into double coverage.
Key stats: The Jets have allowed 71 points the last two weeks, the Bears have allowed 69.
The Jets have the third most turnovers in the league with 16, the Bears are second in the league in takeaways with 17. The Jets defense is just behind the Bears, with 15.
The Bears have the league’s fourth best third down conversion rate on offense at 46.8 percent. The Jets rank 28th at 34.4 percent.
Prediction: This game favors the Bears and in Vegas the spread is up to 7.5 in some places. I think that the Bears can cover this game, but that it might end up being closer than fans would like. My pick is Bears 28, Jets 17. To see my pick on the total click here to see my piece on Sports Bet Collective. My pick is free when you create an account.
Do you think the Bears can get back in the win column this weekend?