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Week 9 game preview: Bears-Dolphins

The Bears host one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

Miami Dolphins v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Just as the Bears begin to turn their offensive fortunes around the defense seems to begin to take a dump.

And then the last week of trades happened.

Now the Bears are less their leading tackler and the pass rusher that commanded the most attention of the opposition. Oh and in that time they also gave up 49 points.

Things aren’t getting easier for the defense, is what I am trying to say. Especially not this week.

As for the offense, it’s showing life, but it’s still not going to be a full unit that can scare opponents.

Maybe their quarterback can (wow, that’s weird to type), but weapons-wise, the Bears lack a lot. And I’m not sure Chase Claypool is really going to be able to make an impact considering he’s been in the building for three days.

The Miami Dolphins are a good football team. They have a very good offense and a solid defense.

Miami Dolphins

SB Nation site: The Phinsider

Record: 5-3, second in the AFC East

Last week: 31-27 win over the Lions

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

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Chicago Bears are five-point home underdogs to the Dolphins.

Bears all-time record against: 4-9

Historical meetings: Week 9, 1998. The 0-7 Bears went down to Miami to face the 5-2 Dolphins.

Inexplicably, on Monday Night Football, the Bears found an offensive game plan that worked.

Erik Kramer played a turnover-free game and threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Raymont Harris ran for 106 yards and another TD.

John Thierry sacked Dan Marino for a safety. Nine different Bears caught passes. Curtis Conway had 100 receiving yards.

For Miami, O.J. McDuffie had 137 yards and a touchdown. Dan Marino was sacked four times, threw an interception, and completed only 48 percent of his passes.

The Bears still had to overcome a 33-18 deficit in the fourth quarter, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes and getting a two-point conversion to tie it with a little more than three minutes to play.

In overtime, Barry Minter sacked and forced a Marino fumble recovered at Miami’s 17-yard line. The Bears kicked a field goal on second down and got their first win of the season. A wild, 36-33 win.

Last meeting: Week 6, 2018.

A battle of 3-1 teams in Miami. The Bears offense played well but the defense couldn’t stop...oh that’s right...Brock Osweiler.

Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. Despite two interceptions and with the help of 158 yards rushing from Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore, the Dolphins managed to win in overtime.

The Bears had no answers for Albert Wilson (155 yards and two touchdowns). The offense had life though, as Mitch Trubisky threw three touchdowns and Tarik Cohen added a rushing touchdown.

The Bears lost 31-28.

Injury report: The Dolphins listed 15 players as limited or not participating Wednesday.


  • RB Jeff Wilson (not injury related)
  • OLB Andrew Van Ginkel (chest/rib)
  • TE Durham Smythe (hamstring)
  • OT Brandon Shell (groin)
  • DB Clayton Fejedelem (groin)
  • DT Raekwon Davis (knee)
  • TE Tanner Conner (knee)
  • OLB Bradley Chubb (not injury related)
  • ILB Jerome Baker (hip)

Did not participate

  • DT John Jenkins (personal)
  • OT Austin Jackson (ankle/calf)
  • OLB Melvin Ingram (veteran rest day)
  • CB Xavien Howard (veteran rest day)
  • WR River Cracraft (illness)
  • OT Terron Armstead (toe)

Offense: The Dolphins come to Chicago ranked seventh in yards and 16th in points.

Their passing offense ranks third, while their rushing attack ranks 28th.

That disparity might be why they traded for Jeff Wilson Jr. at the trade deadline Tuesday.

They shipped out Chase Edmonds as part of the Bradley Chubb deal, as well.

Tua Tagovailoa (69.9 cmp pct/1,678 yds/12 TD/3 INT) is finally hitting his stride as an NFL quarterback and is putting any doubts about his ability to rest. His weapons, of course, are helping.

They include Tyreek Hill (69 rec/961 yds/2 TD), who leads the NFL in receiving yards and receptions, Jaylen Waddle (42/727/5), Mike Gesicki (21/235/4) and Trent Sherfield (15/157/0).

With Chase Edmonds gone, the ground game will go through trade-deadline acquisition Jeff Wilson Jr. (92 att/468 yds/2 TD with San Francisco). Since he’s only had a few days to get up to speed, expect to see one-time Bear Raheem Mostert (101 att/452 yds/1 TD) get most of the load, as he has this season.

Defense: The Dolphins' defense comes in ranked 22nd in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed.

Their rushing defense ranks sixth, while their passing defense ranks 26th.

LBs Jaelan Phillips (3 sk/23 tkls/2 FR/4 TFL) and Melvin Ingram (2 sk/2 FR/12 tkls) are leading the rush, while on the back end safeties Brandon Jones (49 tkls/3 PD/2 sk) and Jevon Holland (46 tkls/2 INT/5 PD/1 FF) are the leading tacklers.

DT Christian Wilkins (39 tkls/7 TFL/0.5 sk) is a big part of stuffing the run for Miami.

Key matchups: The most obvious are Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon against Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. But it’s not just about those two, it’s also going to include Eddie Jackson and Jaquon Brisker, because with those guys’ speed you need help over the top.

It’s not an easy task, but that’s going to be imperative for keeping it somewhat close.

Miami’s quarterbacks have only been sacked 17 times and eight of those were Tua.

The Bears’ OL is going to have their work cut out for them to create running lanes against the sixth-best run defense in the league.

Chicago needs to score points. They’ve been able to move the ball against their last three opponents and put up points in their last two games, but this is a different animal, especially in the passing game.

Luckily for the Bears’ struggling run defense, that isn’t Miami’s strength. But the Bears' defense isn’t exactly a no-fly zone, either. Getting pressure on Tua would also help slow down the Dolphins’ passing game.

Key stats

  • Tua Tagovailoa has the highest passer rating of any QB on third down since tracking began in 1991. (Source: CBS Sports)
  • The Dolphins are one of the most efficient offenses in the red zone, ranking fourth and scoring on 69.6 percent of their red zone trips.
  • Their defense ranks 28th in red zone defense and 24th on third down.
  • Miami’s defense is allowing 7.0 NY/A, tied with the Raiders. The only teams worse are the Steelers, Vikings, Falcons and Lions.
  • They have allowed the seventh-most passing first downs to opponents.
  • Opponents have a 100.0 QB rating against the Dolphins, the fourth-highest by a defense in the league. Justin Fields has had a rating over 100 just twice this season (against the Cowboys and Vikings).
  • The Dolphins rank 11th in blitz percentage but are fourth-lowest in pressure percentage. This is why they went all-in for Bradley Chubb.
  • Miami comes in with the third-highest yards per play in the league, behind only the Bills and Chiefs.

Can the Bears new-look offense keep up with the Dolphins? More importantly, can the defense get a stop?