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Week 16 game preview: Bears-Cardinals

The Bears look to bounce back at home with the Cardinals coming to town.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

All we want for Christmas is a Chicago Bears win. Oh and maybe the first overall pick.

That would at least be a nice consolation prize to having to watch the Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy show every week for two seasons.

But Sunday appears to be winnable, at least on paper. The Bears have proven that it can be anything but, even when carrying a lead into the fourth quarter.

Here come the Arizona Cardinals, wayward as ever. Their passing numbers are weak and their defense is even weaker.

Let’s break down the opponent and see what it will take for Chicago to earn a win.

Arizona Cardinals

SB Nation site: Revenge of the Birds

Record: 3-11, last in the NFC West

Last week: 45-29 loss to the San Francisco 49ers

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, 3:25 p.m. CT, FOX

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bears are 4-point favorites over the Cardinals. The total is set at 44.

Bears all-time record against: 59-29-6

Historical meetings: The Bears have never played on the Cardinals on Christmas Eve but in 2012 they played on Dec. 23.

The Bears came in at 8-6, clinging to playoff hopes. The Cardinals were 5-9.

Following punts from both teams, the Cardinals started their second drive from their own four yard line. On the second play, Beanie Wells fumbled and Zackary Bowman picked it up and returned it one yard for a touchdown.

The Bears added touchdowns from Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, while Ryan Lindley could only lead the Cardinals to field goals.

On the Cardinals’ first drive of the second half, Charles Tillman intercepted Lindley and took it back for another Chicago TD.

The Cardinals turned to Brian Hoyer after that, but couldn’t muster any more offense. The Bears couldn’t either for their part.

Arizona finally got into the endzone when Olindo Mare’s 20-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Adrian Wilson and returned 82 yards for a touchdown with two minutes left.

The Bears won 28-13.

Last meeting: Week 13 of the 2021 season, the 4-7 Bears took on the 9-2 Cardinals.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 14-0 lead and eventually took it to halftime with a 24-7 lead.

The Bears never got closer than 10 points. Andy Dalton threw four interceptions.

Bears lost 33-22.

Injury report: The Cardinals had nine players on their injury report Wednesday.


  • S Andre Chachere (shoulder)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (calf)
  • DB Bobby Price (quadricep)
  • DT Kevin Strong (knee)

Did not participate

  • WR Marquise Brown (heel)
  • LB Victor Dimukeje (foot)
  • WR Greg Dortch (shoulder)
  • CB Garrett Williams (knee)
  • TE Travis Vokolek (Not injury related)

Offense: The Cardinals come into the game ranked 25th in points and 24th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 29th and their rushing offense ranks seventh.

Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray (62.1 pct cmp./1,075 yds./4 TD/4 INT) is back from his knee injury but isn’t really quieting a lot of his critics, although this isn’t exactly a stacked roster.

Leading receivers are WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (51 rec./574 yds./4 TD) an TE Trey McBride (66/712/2). Behind them are Rondale Moore (31/265/1) and Michael Wilson (28/435/2).

On the ground, James Conner (143 att./717 yds./5 TD) is running strong. Emari Demercado (56/274/2) is second on the team. Moore (24/159/1) gets some carries and Murray (29/155/3) is still dynamic with his legs, too.

Defense: The Cardinals defense comes in ranked 31st in points and 25th in yards.

Their passing defense ranks 13th and their rushing defense ranks 31st.

With Kyzir White on IR, the defense is now led by Jalen Thompson (3 INT/68 tkls/5 PD/1 FF/4 TFL/1 sk), Budda Baker (63 tkl/3 TFL) and former Bear Josh Woods (61 tkl/1 FF/1 PD/2 TFL/0.5 sk).

Leading their pass rush are OLBs Dennis Gardeck (5 sk/3 PD/7 TFL/12 QB hits), BJ Ojulari (4 sk/4 TFL/5 QB hits) and VIctor Dimukeje (4 sk/1 FF/1 PD/5 TFL/7 QB hits).

Other playmakers are Zaven Collins (35 tkls/3.5 sk/3 PD/1 INT/5 TFL) and Antonio Hamilton (8 PD/1 INT/29 tkl).

Key match ups: For the defense, it’s all about containing Kyler Murray and James Conner. Those are really the two biggest difference makers for the Cardinals’ offense.

Kyler can be an effective scrambler to buy time and make big plays, but he lacks a lot of consistent weapons. Conner is averaging a healthy 5-yards-per-carry.

For the offense, this Cardinals defense has strugged. There is no reason it shouldn’t be able to put up yards and points. They are especially bad against the run, so rely on Justin Fields’ legs and D’Onta Foreman to get the ground game going and set up play action and roll outs.

Key stats

  • Arizona has the 12th-most turnovers in the league. The Bears defense has the sixth-most takeaways.
  • The Cardinals have the 31st-ranked third down defense in the league.
  • Arizona has six interceptions on the season. The Bears have five in their last two games.
  • Kyler Murray has been sacked 14 times in the four games he’s played since returning from his knee injury. He was sacked three times last week by San Francisco.
  • James Conner is averaging 5.0 yards per carry on the season. His lowest single game average is just 4.2 YPC. That was against Pittsburgh, when he had 25 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Conner has zero fumbles on the season. He also leads the Cardinals in broken tackles with 19.
  • Arizona’s defense is allowing the second-fewest receptions and yards to opposing tight ends.
  • The Cardinals have allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns to opponents and the second-most rush yards.
  • The Bears and Cardinals have traded off wins and losses in their last five meetings. Cardinals won in ‘09, Bears in ‘12, Cardinals in ‘15, Chicago in ‘18 and Cardinals in ‘21.
  • Arizona is 1-6 on the road this season.

Can the Bears get a victory over a three-win team? What will happen if they blow another game this season?