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Chicago Bears vs Baltimore Ravens Preview: Inside the Numbers

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Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12).
Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

This Sunday, the Chicago Bears (5-4) will take on the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (4-5). Both teams are poised to make runs at their respective divisions, despite major injuries and recent mediocre play. The Bears and Ravens resemble each other in many ways; specifically, each team has one phase performing at a high level while the secondary phase struggles. More simply, Chicago has a dynamic offense and a porous defense, whereas Baltimore relies on its defense as the offense sputters. Let’s go inside the numbers, courtesy of the advanced analytics from Pro Football Focus.

The Ravens could be viewed as a cautionary tale for Bears fans. Thanks to his meteoric ascension throughout the playoffs, which culminated with a Super Bowl victory, QB Joe Flacco earned a $120.6 million contract. Despite this, one would be hard-pressed to find an expert who considered Flacco one of the league’s top five signal callers. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome was able to assemble some patchwork replacements, but Flacco’s megamoney certainly tied his hands. The Bears will face a similar decision this offseason, assuming Jay Cutler finishes out the year on a high note. Perhaps Phil Emery will approach the situation differently than Newsome, but expect Cutler to ask for $100 million. Back to the matchup, though. What do you think? Should Cutler get Flacco money? Respond to the poll below:

Flacco leads the second-worst offense (-93.4) according to PFF. Just how bad is that grade? Well, in 2012, Baltimore had a (108.8) grade, so the dropoff has been absolutely staggering. Flacco’s play has been downright appalling, as he’s the fourth-worst QB with a (-13.2) grade, ahead of only rookies Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel, and developmental guy Terrelle Pryor. The blame, of course, should not fall solely on Flacco’s shoulders. Premium possession receiver Anquan Boldin was shipped off to San Francisco, safety blanket tight end Dennis Pitta has yet to suit up, and running back Ray Rice lacks the short area quickness that once made him an elite ground option. Flacco has been statuesque in the pocket this year as well, as he’s taken 30 sacks thus far, third most in the NFL.

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