The Bears’ extended preseason is over. It’s time to put the big boy pads on and invite a legit team to Soldier Field as the 7-1 Houston Texans come to Chicago to face the 7-1 Bears. This is a game where strength goes against strength. The Bears take the ball away more than any team in the league while the Texans give it away the least. It’s fastball pitcher against fastball hitter. Both defenses are ranked in the top 5 and the Sunday night forecast is calling for heavy rain, so this doesn’t set up for a shootout.
To help get some insight on the upcoming opponent, we reached out to Riley Cavanagh, editor for Toro Times to tackles our 5 Questions. Here are my questions and Riley’s answers:
1. JJ Watt is having an MVP-caliber season and the Bears’ offensive line is one of their weaknesses. What’s the secret to his success? What can the Bears do to slow him down?
Honestly, the guy can’t be stopped. He is the best defensive end in the league and what he is doing is unprecedented for someone in a 3-4 scheme as an end. The only player comparable to him is on your roster in Julius Peppers as the Bears move him inside and he is adept at both run-stopping and pass-rushing. After watching the Bears a lot this year I would say the only way to slow him down is to play the way you did against the Cowboys and run at him and run play action boots away from him like they did against Ware. Take advantage of him overpursuing the quarterback. If they come out with the gameplan they had against the Packers it’s going to be a long night for Jay.
2. On the other side of the ball, Arian Foster is having another stellar season so far while the Bears are really good at stopping the run. Fantasy owners and Bears fans alike want to know – what kind of a night can we expect from Foster? What do the Bears need to do to slow him down?
Arian Foster has been having another good year, even to his standards, but the run game as a whole is down. I think the best thing the Bears can hope to do is to hold Foster between 80-90 yards on what is sure to be about 20-25 carries. If they do that they should shut down the running game altogether as Justin Forsett and Brandon Tate have been nearly irrelevant this year.
3. Continuing with the Texans’ offense, Andre Johnson once dominated stat sheets, but he’s having a down year by his standards with only 42 catches for 562 yards and 2 TD’s. What’s up with him? Is it just a down year or is he on the decline?
I would actually argue the contrary in regards to Andre. He has certainly not been the receiver he was in his prime but the two years prior to this it appeared that he was done. This year however, he has again become Matt Schaub’s favorite target and when we need a chunk of yardage we know who the ball is going to. The best thing I can hope for against someone like Peanut though is for Andre to hold on to the football. If he has five catches for 50 yards and no fumbles I will be ecstatic.
4. All we’ve heard about this week in Chicago are the Bears takeaways while the Texans are among the stingiest in giving the ball up. Has that been a point of emphasis in Houston this week? Are the Bears going to be able to get any takeaways?
This is the ultimate unstoppable force versus immovable object scenario. The Texans are one of the best in the league at protecting the ball and the Bears are possibly the best of all-time at taking it away. Will the Bears force a turnover? Sure. I don’t think it will be a Matt Schaub turnover though. If I had to guess I’d say either Arian, who has been known to be careless with the football, or Ben Tate who has already fumbled once this year will cough it up.
5. What’s your prediction for the game? Please include a score.
5. My prediction for the game is that the Texans will force more turnovers than the Bears simply because as Charles Woodson put it “same old Jay” will throw you the ball if you are in the right spot. The Texans will be relatively ineffective running the ball and try to dink and dunk. It will be a field position game and will come down to the quarterbacks in the clutch and I like mine more. Thus I say the Texans win in a close one 24-21.