The Chicago Bears season continues to sink lower and lower. After a loss to the Minnesota Vikings that dropped their record to 1-5, the Bears now welcome in the Las Vegas Raiders where they find themselves a home underdog with no Justin Fields under center thanks to his dislocated thumb.
To help get us ready for the match-up, we sat down with our sister site, Silver and Black Pride, and spoke to Matt Holder, who gave us some answers and insight on the Bears’ opponent.
1. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high expectations for the Raiders this season. But they sit at 3-3 with a chance to move above .500 with a win on Sunday. Why have the Raiders had success to this point?
Holder - Surprisingly, the Raiders’ defense has carried them for most of the season. The offense hasn’t scored more than 20 points yet this year, a safety pushed Las Vegas to 21 points last week, and the defense has been pretty strong outside of Week 2 against the Bills. While they did allow 23 and 24 points to the Steelers and Chargers, that was primarily due to the offense turning the ball over three times in each game. Maxx Crosby has been an absolute force so far this season and other guys like safety Tre’von Moehrig are starting to come along, too.
That being said, I do think the Raiders record is a little bit of fool’s gold right now. Their three wins have come against the Broncos, Packers and Patriots, who have a combined record of 4-13, while New England and Denver own the second- and fourth-worst point differentials in the league, respectively. I’d consider Las Vegas to be an average team which might be exceeding expectations for some people.
2. It seems like Josh McDaniels is quite unpopular with the fan base. How has his tenure been to this point and is there reason for hope with him on the sidelines moving forward?
Well, McDaniels is supposed to be an offensive genius, he has his hand-picked quarterback and one of the best wide receivers and running backs in the league, yet the Raiders’ offense can’t even score 20 points! Oh, and this is coming off of a season where the team set an NFL record for blowing double-digit second-half leads and went 6-11 after being a playoff team the year before.
So, to answer your question, there isn’t much hope right now with McDaniels, lol.
3. Aidan O’Connell might be someone Chicagoans know who follow Big Ten football since he went to Purdue, but I know he’s already had one opportunity to start this season. What are the positives and negatives you’ve seen from the rookie?
O’Connell was the talk of the preseason as he was really sharp in two out of three games and was one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded quarterbacks in August. He’s only played in one regular season game so far, getting the start in Week 4 against the Chargers when Jimmy Garoppolo was out with a concussion. Los Angeles’ pass rush made life tough on the rookie with seven sacks, six from former Raider and Bear Khalil Mack.
O’Connell had a really bad first half where he lost two fumbles and then had another on the first play of the third quarter that Las Vegas recovered. However, I thought he showed a lot of resolve by fighting through the adversity to cut a 17-point halftime deficit into a one-possession game that came down to the wire. Unfortunately, he threw a pick on the goal line that sealed the win for Los Angeles, but I blame McDaniels more for that because he essentially gave O’Connell a one-read route and it was the same play-call from earlier in the game, so Asante Samuel Jr. knew what was coming and jumped the route.
Brian Hoyer is technically the Raiders’ No. 2 quarterback and he came in when Garoppolo went down at halftime last week. Hoyer was solid and took care of the ball, so I lean toward McDaniels being safe and rolling with the veteran if Garoppolo can’t play, especially since the team has a chance to break the .500 mark and the coach needs to stack up wins to keep his job.
4. The Bears and Raiders seem to have one thing in common: two franchises that don’t necessarily make the best choices for success. Since the move to Las Vegas and the new regime in place, is there more trust in Mark Davis and the Raiders front office moving forward or is it still a big question looming over the franchise?
When the franchise first moved to Vegas and Jon Gruden—who has been a popular coach with the fanbase for years—had had the team consistently in playoff contention, Raider Nation was gung-ho about Mark Davis. Then the email scandal happened—coincidentally, right before the last time the Raiders and Bears played—that led to Gruden’s forced resignation.
Rich Bisaccia took over as interim head coach after that and when asked about retaining Bisaccia/Gruden’s staff moving forward, Davis consistently reiterated that the expectation is for the team to still make the playoffs and he’ll evaluate those decisions at the end of the year. Las Vegas ended up making the postseason but the owner had already made his mind up, moving on Bisaccia and company.
Davis then hired general manager Dave Ziegler and McDaniels, who were already somewhat unpopular within the fanbase given their connections to the Patriots. And the subsequent losing has only angered people more, to the point where fans were vocal and somewhat harassing Davis during the Chargers game asking him to fire the coach. To which he replied; “Smarten up!” while pointing toward his head.
Long story short, it’s still a big question looming over the franchise, especially since the team has spent the better part of the last 20 years doing a lot more losing than winning. Fans are getting tired of it and bad decision after bad decision means the person calling the shots becomes more and more responsible. Granted, the Aces—who Davis also owns—just won back-to-back WNBA Championships, so maybe the Raiders are just cursed!
5. Is there a particular player prop bet you like that’s currently listed on DraftKings? Do you have a suggestion for a good bet for an anytime touchdown scorer?
With both teams having questions at quarterback, there aren’t a ton of player prop bets available for the game, but I do like Cole Kmet over 34.5 receiving yards. I’d imagine the Bears’ coaching staff is going to give Tyson Bagent some layups early in the game to help him build a rhythm and Las Vegas runs a “bend but don’t break” defense, so they’ll give up the dink and dunk passes. Also, I like how Crosby matches up against the Bears’ beaten-up offensive line, so could see Bagent hitting a few checkdowns to the tight end.
At the time of writing, I don’t see any odds for anytime touchdown scorer, but I do think Josh Jacobs would be a pretty safe bet. The Raiders will probably lean on him heavily since they’re also likely starting a backup quarterback and Jacobs has scored in two out of the last three games.
So there you have it, what has happened in Vegas, didn’t stay in Vegas. The Bears are going to have to rally around their undrafted rookie quarterback and see if they can win for the second time in three weeks. But to do it, it’s going to take a total team effort and the Bears’ trenches are going to have to play above expectation.
And as always, if you want to place a little wager on the game, DraftKings Sportsbook has you covered.