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Keys to the game roundtable: Bears-Cardinals

The Bears host the lowly Cardinals with a chance to right the sinking ship of the 2023 season

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

Any good vibes felt from the Chicago Bears’ two-game win streak came to a screeching halt in Cleveland last Sunday.

Now, the team turns around and hosts the 3-11 Arizona Cardinals. It’s a chance to finish the season strong, whatever that is worth.

The Bears are favored, at home, something that hasn’t happened a ton this year.

It feels like a game that Chicago should win. But they’ve dropped a lot of games where they held big leads.

Let’s just get to it.

Sam: The Cardinals are among the NFL’s bottom feeders. Would it be the worst thing in the world if the Bears blew this game? No, not really, but I still enjoy rooting for wins. Call me old-fashioned that way. Contain Kyler Murray (Montez Sweat had 1.5 sacks against Arizona back in week one but he was on Washington and Kyler wasn’t playing) and Trey McBride and Hollywood Brown.

For the offense, this is one of the worst defenses in the league (allowing the second-most points in the league) and they are terrible against the run. Re-establish that dominant run game from earlier this year and take care of business at home. That would be a nice early Christmas present.

Taylor: After last Sunday I’m exhausted. I don’t want to lose; I am not in that boat yet but I am in the save my heart some stress boat right now. This defense Is getting better by the week, and with the inconsistencies on the offense and play calling, I think I will just stick to relying on that for now. James Connor can be dangerous but it’s really hard to run on this defense, when Kyler is pressured, he tends to make a lot of mistakes so let’s just continue to do that. For the offense, Arizona's defense is bad, so you should be able to take advantage of that by running the ball and getting Justin to use his legs, also.

ECD: I, too, am exhausted following their latest disaster in Cleveland. This team has the talent to beat the Cardinals. Justin Fields, DJ Moore, and this defense can flat-out dominate this matchup. The coaching staff just needs to get the hell out of its own way. It’s highly likely Luke Getsy, if not Matt Eberflus, are getting fired in January. It would behoove them to finish out this season with some strong performances as they audition for jobs elsewhere.

Josh: You know what? At this point, I am completely unable to believe that this coaching staff will put together 60 consecutive minutes of adequate decision-making. I am therefore choosing to embrace the frustration. Getsy needs to dial up screens, swings, and Cole Kmet runs on every 4th-and-short. Flus needs to drop the defensive backs into very loose coverage and rush two or maybe three guys, tops. They should start every drive with at least two runs directly up the middle and rely on Trenton Gill’s punting prowess. I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Velus Jones Jr., so maybe they could rest DJ Moore’s ankle and put Velus out there with Tyler Scott and Darnell Mooney.

Alternately, they could just actually play aggressive offense, pushing the ball down the field with a mix of deep passes and design runs sprinkled in to keep the Cards honest, using blocking schemes that are recognizable in the NFL.

Lester: My key this week is that Santa Claus would take an early detour through Soldier Field, suit up in a throwback Bears uniform, line up at 3-tech to wreak havoc on the Arizona o-line, and do double duty playing fullback while rushing for three touchdowns. And then, on his way out of Chicago, he’ll stop at Halas Hall and leave pink slips in the coach's mailboxes.

Jack R Salo: Offense: The Cardinals are already eliminated from playoff contention, and while the Bears will be soon, they aren’t yet. Arizona shouldn’t have much to play for other than pride, and their defense wasn’t great even when their games mattered. Honestly, we all know Luke Getsy is gone after this year, so why not break out some trick plays and have fun with it? More of that wildcat, snaps to running backs, pitches and fake pitches, and stretch the field horizontally until the Cardinals spread out enough that you can take some deep shots to Moore and Kmet. If they can keep the Cardinals guessing, they can have plenty of success in this one.

Defense: While it’s important to contain Kyler Murray and it will be a focus of the broadcast crew the entire game, an underrated matchup to watch will be the Cardinals’ running backs vs. the Bears’ box defenders. The Cardinals’ running backs ripped off 177 total rushing yards in their last matchup against the 49ers, and the Bears linebackers have been doing a hell of a job getting interceptions to help this team to the second-most picks in the league thus far. If Eberflus puts too much focus on continuing that trend, they could get gashed on the ground. Shut down the run and the bad passes should follow.

What are the keys to the Bears beating the Cardinals Sunday?