The Chicago Bears roll into Pittsburgh Sunday night sporting a 2-0 record and leading the NFC North Division. The match-up seems to be tilted in the Bears direction as the Steelers try to prevent an 0-3 start and a deep divisional hole to climb out of. But, as is always the case in the modern day NFL, anything can happen and the difference between a win and a loss often comes down to match-ups.
Let’s look at the most intriguing match-ups for Week #3
Julius Peppers vs. Ben Roethlisberger
Julius Peppers and the Chicago defensive line have been a point of concern over the first two weeks of the season. Lack of consistent pressure has put tremendous strain on the Bear secondary and has led to numerous big passing plays. (In fairness to Julius Peppers and the rest of the line the Cincinnati Bengals game planned away from long drops; getting the ball out quick which minimized the line rush and against the Minnesota Vikings, Peppers was battling the flu.) Week 3 is a prime spot for the D-Line and Peppers specifically to get things going. The Steelers offensive front is young and doesn’t pass protect very well. Depending upon what side Peppers lines up on he will eat up young tackles like Mike Adams. Shedding blockers is only half the battle when playing Pittsburgh, however. Ben Roethlisberger is the hardest quarterback in the league to bring down and his ability to extend plays after being wrapped up is uncanny. ”Big Ben” is an elite quarterback and Peppers will have his hands full if he gets into the backfield. If the Bears aren’t able to get quick penetration Roethlisberger will extend the play for additional seconds which will make the Steeler receivers nearly impossible to contain.
Marc Trestman vs. 3-4 Defense
This will be Trestman’s first look at a hybrid “3-4″ defense this season. This will match the offensive guru Trestman against the defensive tactician Dick LeBeau. The 3-4 defense will present new if not difficult coverage adjustments for the Bears. LeBeau is famous for his zone blitzing schemes and this will be a good test for Trestman’s play calling abilities. Remember, Green Bay also uses a variation of a 3-4 defense and quarterback Jay Cutler has traditionally struggled against the Packers.If anything this is going to be a great “test drive” for Cutler. Although, any defense that was ranked #1 overall in the league isn’t going to be an easy test drive no matter who they’ve lost in the off-season. Matt Forte is going to be critical to this match-up for Trestman. How he uses Forte will determine how well the Bears offense plays. If he can run weak side and continue to find Forte open on wheel screens out of the backfield the Chicago offense will be in great shape.
Jay Cutler vs. Prime Time
Is the “Jay can’t win at night” argument still valid? Probably not. Jay has performed well enough over the last few seasons to at least make up for some terrible prime time appearances in the past but this game is worrisome. The 3-4 defensive scheme always tends to give Cutler trouble especially one that disguises itself as well as LeBeau’s does. Cutler’s patience and decision making are going to be vitally important. Lack of patience and poor decisions are why he tends to struggle against the Packers who run a similar scheme. Cutler will need to take what the defense is going to give him. Not every play will turn out to be a home run but the patience and proper decision making will eventually lead into something bigger. If Jay doesn’t stay patient and tries to force too much against this defense he could turn into a turn over machine which would then make for a long night for the Bears.
This is a very winnable game for the Bears but it is all about match-ups and these 3 are critical for win number 3 in week number 3.
Stay locked into BGO for the best Bears coverage leading up to kick-off and the best break-down after the game is over