The Las Vegas Raiders host the Chicago Bears on Sunday and the last I checked the home team is favored by 5.5 points. These two teams are eerily similar in some aspects, both have bad offensive lines, both have good pass rushes, and both are shaky in the secondary, but the big play potential from the Vegas offense is more established than that from the Bears.
Chicago’s offense flashed last week with Justin Fields throwing the ball deeper that what we’re accustomed to seeing, but this is the norm for the Raiders. If the Bears can slow down the explosive shots from Derek Carr, and have a few of their own from Fields, the Bears could win this game.
Here are the keys to how the Bears can pull off the upset from several of our WCG staffers.
Josh and RZ are having too much fun with these this season.
Josh Sunderbruch: Nagy, we must talk. Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, get squished, just like a grape. Here, running an offense, it’s the same thing. Either you hand over play-calling “yes”, or hand over play-calling “no”. You hand over play-calling “guess so”, you get squished, just like a grape. Understand?
Robert Zeglinski: There’s an NFL tradition to not talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you. I’m sure playing meaningful games in December is beyond the Bears’ wildest dreams, so let’s just keep it right there.
Forget about the crowds, the size of the hotels or casinos, their silver and black uniforms, and remember what got you here.
And most important, don’t get caught up thinking about winning or losing this game. If they put their effort and concentration into playing to their potential, to be the best that they can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game.
In my book, they’re gonna be winners!
ECD: Quite honestly, the Raiders aren’t as good of a team on the field as they are listed on paper. The Chargers’ defense obliterated the Black and Silver O-line, which made Derek Carr crumble under pressure early. Enter Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, who are teaming up to be a dynamic duo rushing from the edge. The former is looking for revenge on his last game against the Raiders.
Meanwhile, it will be on Matt Nagy to make the right decision at QB. Justin Fields is the kind of guy who can beat this Raiders defense. Darnell Mooney’s emergence — largely in thanks to Justin Fields — will finally take the top off any coverage and exploit a weak Raiders secondary. A big question remains with the Bears’ running game; however, Bill Lazor adapted quickly once David Montgomery went down on Sunday. Both Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert should fair well in a 1-2 punch at RB.
Special teams, of all things, might be what this game comes down to. The Bears just acquired Jakeem Grant, an All-Pro returner from a year ago. I like how he matches up against the Raiders return coverage units. And Cairo Santos is Cairo Santos. He’s arguably the most dependable kicker in the NFL right now.
Jack Salo: Much has been made about the Raiders tendency of falling behind early and coming back to win late. The vagabond NFL team found themselves down 14-0 to the Ravens and Dolphins and won those games in OT. They also fell behind 21-0 against the Chargers and cut the lead to single digits in the second half, ultimately losing that contest. The Bears probably don’t have the offensive firepower to put the Raiders on their heels early, so it will take a strong second half of shutting Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs down. Defensive 3rd down efficiency in particular: get off the field even if you aren’t stacking turnovers.
Kev H: The Bears are possibly the most susceptible team in the league to a team who has a tendency to start slow and finish strong.
Patti Curl: On offense, find a way to help Peters and Ifedi keep Crosby and Ngakoue from ruining Justin Fields’ day.
On defense, find a way to reunite Derrick Carr and Khalil Mack.
Sam Householder: If I’m Sean Desai I’m reminding Khalil Mack of his 2019 stat line against the Raiders in London every day this week. Three solo tackles, one QB hit, one fumble recovery. You know, they didn’t want to pay you, right? You know they didn’t want you? That guy over there, he didn’t think you were a priority and now he wants you back. They wanted you back and we aren’t willing to give you back. Show him what why he should want you back.
For the offense, keep that protection we saw a week ago, keep the tight ends in to block every so often, I don’t think there’s a gigantic drop-off from Montgomery to Williams, other than the obscene yards after contact ability that Montgomery has. Get Williams going early though so that Fields can use play action to effectively get the defense to bite and give up some big pass plays.
Ken Mitchell: Pressure. It’s all about pressure this week.
Can the defense put enough pressure on Derek Carr to rattle him (because he does come unglued when he’s under serious heat).
Can the offense keep the Raiders from pressuring Justin Fields?
If Chicago wins the pressure game, then they win the Raiders game.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: The Raiders overall defense is average at best. They can get after the quarterback for sure, but they aren’t very good against the run, and their secondary is a mess. I would expect a similar game plan that the Bears used a week ago. Plenty of Williams and Herbert at tailback, a lot of tight ends on the field, some schemed up deep shots, but I expect more running options from Fields on Sunday.
The Raiders offense will put up points for sure, so the Bears need to slow things down by controlling the clock. If the Bears can make them one dimensional by taking away their run, then Quinn, Mack, and Chicago’s interior pass rushers can attack Las Vegas’ bad offensive line. I picked the Raiders earlier this week, but the more I’ve listened to the Raiders’ media guys on our podcasts this week, the more I think the Bears can win the game.
What are your keys for the Bears to win this week?