Oct 16, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: The Chicago Bears are taking a trip to Foxborough, MA this weekend to take on the New England Patriots, as Chicago tries to rebound after an ugly loss to the Miami Dolphins. Meanwhile, New England sits at 5-2 and are currently on a three game winning streak. New England started the season off slowly when they were beaten soundly by the Dolphins (sound familiar?) 33-20 in week 1. They followed that up with a convincing 30-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, before eking out a win over the hapless Oakland Raiders 16-9. The Oakland game started to call Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense into question, and a subsequent embarrassing 41-14 Monday night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs began to give credence to those claims. That loss, however, only served to light a fire under the Patriots and they haven’t lost a game since, beating the Bengals, Bills and Jets in consecutive weeks. Tom Brady has been on fire since the Kansas City game, and is really starting to look like the vintage Brady we’ve all come to expect. I’m afraid that doesn’t bode well for our beloved Chicago Bears, but we’ll get to that later on.
Injuries: The New England Patriots’ injury report is murky, as usual. Bill Belichick dislikes giving away who will be playing in any given week until he absolutely has to, so the Patriots’ injury report is routinely laden with questionable players. The two definitive injuries on their roster are to running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo, both of whom have been placed on injured reserve. The loss of Ridley will hurt, but the Patriots are not a run first team and have a number of capable backs on their roster so the visible impact of this injury should be negligible. Mayo, on the other hand, is the heart and soul of the Patriots defense and one of the few players on the team that plays every down. His loss will be a significant blow. New England was also missing a pair of centers last week in veteran Dan Connolly and rookie Bryan Stork. Both are recovering from concussions but, having already missed last week, are unlikely to miss another.
Key Matchups: The Bears’ defensive line absolutely must get pressure on Tom Brady to have a chance in this one. If not, Brady will shred the Bears’ injury ravaged back seven without a doubt. Also keep an eye on Jermon Bushrod another week removed from his injury. If he can’t keep Chandler Jones away from Jay Cutler, it could be a long day for the Bears’ offense. My final player to watch is New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis. If Revis can shut down either Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffrey one on one, the Patriots should be able to give the other side help and severely limit the Chicago’s passing attack.
The Way I See It: This matchup doesn’t look good for the Monsters of the Midway. The New England Patriots are rolling right now and look to be in mid-season form, while the Bears… well, let’s just say they’re still improving. With all the reports of the shouting coming from the Bears’ locker room after last week’s loss, it will be intriguing to see how they respond. This game will provide a lot of insight into the direction this team is heading in. As the Patriots have shown since their Monday night debacle against the Chiefs, every team loses games but the good ones rebound quickly. Even a close loss could pick up my spirits for the future.
What do you guys think? Will the Bears respond to their disappointing loss with increased effort and dedication, or are they truly sunk? Let me know in the comments section.