Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
And it will be intriguing/exciting to see Justin Fields use the extra practice time to develop chemistry with his offensive playmakers. Will Come Kmet continue to ascend? Will Allen Robinson finally deliver? Will the Bears get anything from the bottom of their wide receiver depth chart?
A Must Win, For Both Sides, For Different Reasons
The Ravens have designs on winning the Super Bowl. That’s what teams strive for when they have MVP candidates at quarterback. They currently sit at 6-3, third in the conference, with a fascinating schedule to come: home Browns, at at Steelers, at Browns, home Packers, at Bengals, home Rams, home Steelers. That is five division rivalry games and two games against the best of the NFC. John Harbaugh will know the team can’t afford to lose Sunday at Soldier Field if they want to avoid needing three road wins to get to a Los Angeles in February.
The Bears have lost four straight, and they have two games in five days. Matt Nagy has heard the discussion. He knows his time with the Bears is coming to an end and he also knows there is only one way to stave off his termination: win big down the stretch of this season. That has to start Sunday. A Bears loss will give them seven on the season, and five straight (after losing six straight a season ago). That would be definitively “it” for Nagy. A win, followed by a win in Detroit on Thanksgiving, would move them to 5-6, and at least give their home tilt with Arizona on December 5th, Justin versus Kyler, some juice.
Two Hilarious Phone Calls from The Wire
The Wire has, like it or not, becoming Baltimore’s iconic piece of art. But the comic moments are not usually the ones that receive the most attention. Here are two phone calls I still reference all the time.
Stats of the Week
Kevin Eck, a staffer at Ravens.com, wrote a terrific encapsulation of where Baltimore has struggled this season, identifying four statistics of note. Here is the entirety of that analysis:
Minus-5: Ravens’ turnover differential
“The Ravens have forced just seven turnovers and have committed 12. That’s not a winning recipe. Given its myriad injuries, Baltimore is not explosive or talented enough to continue to lose the turnover battle and win games. … Causing more turnovers will help the offense and give it shorter fields. Committing fewer will keep the defense out of more tough spots. The Ravens have to play better complementary football, limiting their mistakes on offense and forcing more on defense.”
7 and 0: Number of 50-plus yard plays allowed by the Ravens defense and gained by the Ravens offense
“In the Ravens’ three losses, their opponents have 11 total plays of more than 30 yards. Any defensive improvement starts with allowing much fewer chunk plays and forcing teams to win by stringing together long drives. Offensively, the Ravens are much improved in the downfield passing game. However, they are the only team in football without an offensive play of 50-plus yards. Hitting on more big plays would make life easier for [Lamar] Jackson and give the Ravens more margin of error.”
34.21 percent: Ravens third-down conversion rate
“The Ravens’ yearlong struggles on third down hit rock bottom against Miami, as they went 3-for-14 against the Dolphins and didn’t convert one until the third quarter. … If the Ravens aren’t winning on first and second down, they’ve provided little evidence that they will be able to get the necessary yardage on third-and-longs, when defenses are attacking them with blitzes. The Ravens need to be far more productive on early downs to set up more third-and-shorts. When they get to third down, they have to convert at a much higher rate.”
85.2: Jackson’s passer rating against the blitz
“Coaches and players from 30 other teams were watching the Dolphins blitz Jackson at will and hold the Ravens to their worst offensive output in the Jackson era. Jackson looked uncomfortable throughout, and the offense as a whole was disjointed and dispirited. The Dolphins took it to an extreme, but more teams are using the blitz against the Ravens and getting relatively good results. Four of the Ravens’ nine opponents have blitzed the Ravens on at least 40 percent of Jackson’s dropbacks. Until the Ravens start punishing the blitz, they are going to see it more and more.”
Tweet of the Week
Ravens vs. Bears note:
Lamar Jackson will face his 28th NFL team Sunday. He’s 25-2 when facing a team for the first time.
Only the Chiefs in the 2018 regular season and the Titans in the 2019 playoffs earned wins over Jackson in their first meetings. pic.twitter.com/UHBiou9zzE
— Jordan Dajani (@JordanDajani) November 16, 2021
It’s hard to explain the unique challenge of Lamar Jackson. The best approach? Score a ton of points and get the Baltimore offense out of their comfort zone. They have no problem running 18-play, 10-minute drives – they did so against Minnesota – but they need the game to break their way to do it. Some will think the Miami model – just blitz the hell out of him – is the new template for success. But Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman will be ready for that approach this week. The Bears have an uphill battle.
Both teams need the game desperately. How on earth could one objectively pick Nagy over Harbaugh in this spot?
Baltimore Ravens 23, Chicago Bears 17