The 3-1 Bears will look to continue their winning ways on the road after winning a huge game in Dallas last week. With a ton of early-season momentum, the Bears are emerging as the favorite in the NFC North and will only bolster that status with a win over the Jaguars.
Jacksonville, on the other hand, is desperate for a win after a tumultuous 1-3 start to the season. A win against a legitimate team like the Bears in front of the hometown crowd would certainly be the highlight of this young season.
Here's a breakdown of this AFC-NFC showdown.
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
When: Sunday, October 7, 4:05 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX (check local listings)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Chicago Bears -5.5 (according to Bovada)
Given the Bears' recent success on the road against a much more potent team, the Bears seem like a pretty safe play here.
Chicago is on a nice run to start the season off and has taken care of business against opponents that aren't on their level. All three of the Bears' wins this season have been by double digits, so if they are going to beat the Jaguars, there's a good chance that they cover the spread.
Over/Under: Total 41 (according to Bovada)
The oddsmakers made life difficult for gamblers with this line.
Half of the Jaguars' games have gone over the 41-point mark, while the Bears have gone over this mark in three of their four games. However, with the Bears earning most of their success with a stifling defense, the under is a bit more appealing in this one.
The Bears will most likely look to run the ball with a lead against this porous defense. That could make the game shorter and more likely to stay under the 41-point threshold.
Key Injuries (via CBSSports.com)
Chicago RB Matt Forte is Probable with an ankle injury
Chicago WR Earl Bennett is questionable with a hand injury
Chicago DE Julius Peppers is questionable with an ankle injury
Jacksonville WR Laurent Robinson is questionable with a concussion
Jacksonville DE George Selvie is questionable with a knee injury
Jacksonville LB Daryl Smith is questionable with a groin injury
Fantasy Big Plays
If you own Forte, he is an absolute must-start this week. The stud running back has struggled to find his rhythm thanks to injuries early on this season, but he's in line for a rebound game against Jacksonville.
The Jaguars rank 30th in the league in run defense and give up a whopping 24.8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
Forte is still trying to get healthy, but he won't need a ton of touches to put up fantasy points. There should be plenty to go around for him and Michael Bush as the Bears should look to establish the run.
Lewis isn't a big-name tight end from week-to-week, but if you're looking for a spot-start with high upside, Lewis is your guy.
The Bears' defense doesn't have many weaknesses. It effectively stops the run and consistently creates turnovers in the passing game. However, they have given up considerable yardage and fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
The Bears have given up the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends this season. The Jaguars could be forced to throw a lot in this one with the presence of the Bears' run defense, so Lewis should have plenty of opportunities to put up points.
After scoring a touchdown last week, Lewis has high potential as a red-zone threat too, which should only add to his value this week.
Keys to a Bears Win
The Bears just need to show up.
Chicago has shown that it is a legitimate playoff contender, but it must show that it can win on a consistent basis.
Given the poor defense of the Jaguars, the Bears will need to use this game to get the offense in sync and minimize turnovers. If the Bears put this game squarely on the shoulders of Forte and Bush, they will win this one easily.
The only way the Bears lose this game is turnovers. In a mismatch like this, turnovers can be the great equalizer, so the Bears must play disciplined.
Keys to a Jaguars Win
If Jacksonville has a prayer in this game, it will need to find a way to stop the run and pressure Jay Cutler in the passing game.
Cutler is known for turning the ball over sometimes, and the Jaguars will need to force that to happen early and often if they want a shot in this one.
The offense has struggled under the leadership of second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert, so putting them in good positions will be key. If the Jaguars can get some early drives with good field position, it could go a long way in getting this unit comfortable.
If they have to come up with consistent long drives, it could be a long game.
On paper, this game just doesn't look close.
There's always a chance that Jay Cutler has one of his historically bad games and keeps the Jaguars in it, but there's an equal chance that he throws three touchdown passes in a rout. This game is the Bears' to lose.
Look for Chicago to get ahead early and use the run game to dictate the pace. The Jaguars' passing game is still in development, so it's hard to imagine much of a comeback effort if the Bears seize the lead in the early going.
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