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Bears bounce back after bye? Bears-Ravens preview

Lamar Jackson and Co. come to Soldier Field looking to get right after a Thursday night upset last week.

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Matt Nagy after a bye has been, well, terrible.

Awful, really.

The Chicago Bears are 0-3 off their bye week under Nagy, including losses by 11 and 16 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

In games in which the Bears had extra prep time (Thursday night games) they are 2-2.

On the bright side, this year the Bears have Justin Fields, who they did not before. But that isn’t really convincing a whole lot of people.

To that point, the Bears are underdogs again this week, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bears are 4 point underdogs.

Baltimore Ravens

SB Nation site: Baltimore Beatdown

Record: 6-3, first in the AFC North

Last week: 22-10 loss to the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, CBS

Bears all-time record against: 4-2

Historical meetings: The last time these teams met at Soldier Field, in November of 2013, the game took over five hours due to a weather delay.

The 5-4 Bears hosted the 4-5 Ravens with Josh McCown starting in place of Jay Cutler.

The Bears scored just one offensive touchdown, a McCown to Forte pass, which came with 10:33 left in the game.

David Bass intercepted a Joe Flacco pass and returned it for six in the second quarter.

The Ravens forced overtime though and despite losing the toss, the Bears forced the Ravens to punt.

McCown drove the Bears down, with a big play of 43 yards to Martellus Bennett and Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yarder for the win.

Last meeting: The Bears upset the Ravens on the road in Mitchell Trubisky’s second start.

The Bears were 1-4 and the Ravens 3-2.

Chicago pulled out all of the stops with Tarik Cohen throwing a touchdown pass to Zach Miller on a track play.

In the third quarter Mitch hit Dion Sims to send the Bears up 17-3.

The Ravens didn’t score on offense though, all of their touchdowns came on returns: a 96-yard kick off return from Bobby Rainey and, later, a 77-yard punt return by Michael Campanaro that tied the game in final two minutes.

Adrian Amos had a pick six as well.

Finally though, in overtime, Conner Barth hit the game winner from 40 yards out to give the Bears the win.

Injury report: The Ravens had seven players on their Wednesday injury report.

Limited

  • OL Patrick Mekhari (ankle)
  • RB Latavius Murray (ankle)

Did not participate

  • C Bradley Bozeman (illness)
  • QB Lamar Jackson (illness)
  • WR Marquise Brown (thigh)
  • OLB Justin Houston (rest)
  • CB Jimmy Smith (hip)
  • DT Brandon Williams (shoulder)
  • CB Tavon Young (foot)

Offense: The Ravens come in with the 12th ranked offense in points and second in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 10th and their rushing offense ranks first.

Lamar Jackson (64.4 pct cmp/2,447 yds/14 TD/8 TD) is a one-man offensive machine. Not only are his passing numbers very good, but he’s also the Ravens leading rusher (106 att/639 yds/2 TD).

His receiving weapons are Marquise Brown (52 rec/719 yds/6 TD), TE Mark Andrews (48/623/4), Devin Duvernay (19/166/2) and Sammy Watkins (18/299/0).

After a stint on IR, first round pick Rashod Bateman (19/241/0) has been coming on the last couple of weeks so keep an eye out for him as well.

The Ravens’ ground game, outside of Jackson consists of Latavius Murray (59 att/212 yds/4 TD), Devonta Freeman (43/223/2) and Ty’Son Williams (33/180/1).

Defense: The Ravens defense ranks 22nd in yards and 24th in points allowed.

Their passing defense ranks 32nd in the league while their rush defense ranks fourth.

The defense is led by LB Patrick Queen (47 tkl/6 TFL/2 sk/1 FF), CB Anthony Averett (43 tkl/9 PD/2 INT), Odafe Oweh (4 sk/11 QB hits/5 TFL/2 FF) and Justin Houston (3 sk/13 QB hits/3 TFL/1 FF).

Beyond their passing yards allowed, they also rank low in Net Yards per Attempt (NY/A) with 7.3, which ranks 29th in the league. They also rank 25th in rushing touchdowns allowed (10) while ranking fourth in rush yards allowed.

Key match ups: Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see that this isn’t a week for a game plan that’s heavy on David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.

It’s time to let Justin Fields loose. His deep passes have been getting better and he’s taken more and more deep shots the last couple of weeks and the Ravens defensive numbers don’t lie: third most 20+ yard pass plays allowed and tied for second-most 40+ yard pass plays allowed.

That’s not to say that Montgomery and Herbert aren’t still a key component to the offense because of what they can do and what they allow the offense to do as far as play action and getting Justin Fields outside the pocket. But this is a week to really let Fields work the passing game more.

Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson against the Ravens secondary is going to be key too, they obviously have to be open downfield in order for Fields to be able to throw it to them.

For the defense, if Roquan Smith is healthy, his match up against Lamar Jackson in the running game and Mark Andrews in the passing game is going to be huge. The corners obviously are going to have their work cut out for them against Marquise Brown but Smith is so important to playing both the Ravens run and pass game.

Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks are going to be key to plugging running lanes as well, but as always against a quarterback like Jackson, who is just so fast, playing disciplined on the edge is going to be vital. That means the linebackers, corners and EDGE players are all going to have to play smart and make sure they don’t over pursue and let Jackson get outside and downfield.

Key stats

  • Ravens opposing QBs have a 95.3 rating against them, which is 18th in the league. They are just ahead of recent Bears opponents the Steelers (95.5), 49ers (97.0) and Raiders (96.5). Fields QB rating against those opponents was 89.9, 84.6 and 91.9, respectively.
  • Despite some alarming defensive stats, the Ravens do rank highly where it counts: they have the number two third down defense and number one red zone defense
  • Their offense on the other hand, ranks 29th in third down conversions but ranks third in the red zone.
  • Lamar Jackson has been sacked just one time fewer than Justin Fields. Fields still is the most-sacked QB on the season, having been taken down 29 times.
  • Fields has rushed for more than 40 yards in three of his last four games and has over 35 rushing yards in four straight games
  • The Ravens have a worse takeaway differential (-5) than the Bears (-4)
  • The Bears have won the last two meetings in the series, with each game being decided by a field goal

Can the Bears break out of Nagy’s post-bye slump? Can the Bears defense contain Jackson or will it be up to Fields to outscore Baltimore?