Chicago Bears vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Game Preview

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IOctober 5, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 09:  (L-R) Lance Briggs #55, Brian Urlacher #54 and Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears run onto the field during player introductions before taking on the Indianapolis Colts during their 2012 NFL season opener at Soldier Field on September 9, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears, sitting at 3-1 and coming off of a 34-18 win over the Dallas Cowboys, will travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars this coming Sunday afternoon.

The Bears need a win against the Jaguars to help them enter their bye week on a positive note, as well as keep the momentum they've found going in the right direction.

Jacksonville currently has a 1-3 record heading into this game and lost last week to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10.  The Jaguars start second-year player Blaine Gabbert at the quarterback position for this game, and while he is still growing and learning, he has struggled so far this season.

So without further delay, here is an in-depth look at the Bear’s game this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.


When the Bears have the ball

The Bears found their offense in their game against the Cowboys, and it appears as if things are starting to work.  Quarterback Jay Cutler, getting decent protection, was able to find his receivers down the field and move the ball through the air.  That has to happen in their game against the Jaguars and it looks like it will.

Keeping some extra players in to block seemed to help, and the Bears may end up doing more of that in this game.  They have to keep Cutler upright and healthy, and make sure that he can get the ball down the field.  Throwing to Brandon Marshall has opened things up for the Bears in the passing game, and Cutler is sure to send more than a fair share of balls Marshall’s way in this game.

Chicago needs to establish the running game and should be able to do that with Matt Forte having returned from an ankle injury (he came back in the Monday night game against Dallas, although it appeared he was hobbling a little bit) and Michael Bush running well.  Establishing the ground game will take some pressure off of the passing game and allow for Cutler to have some time throwing the ball using play action.  Running the football would also allow the Bears to control the clock much better and keep the ball out of the hands of the Jaguars' offense.

Look for Cutler to air it out with success in this game, especially if he has time to throw the ball.  They will also run the ball a lot early to open up the passing game and make things difficult for Jacksonville. 


When the Jaguars have the ball

The Bears' defense has been getting turnovers like crazy over their past few games, and they currently lead the league in that category.  This week, they face a second-year starting quarterback in Gabbert and he’s been prone to making mistakes, so the Bears have the advantage.  Getting pass pressure on the young quarterback will not only force him to make those mistakes but also take pressure off of the Bears' secondary and stall the Jaguars' passing game.

One thing that the Bears may have to be concerned about is running back Maurice Jones-Drew.  Drew has had a good start to the season and has been hard to stop.  The Bears' rushing defense has held teams in check for the most part but need to step it up to contain Jones-Drew.  If they can shut him down and force the Jaguars to pass the ball more, the Bears will have them right where they want them.

The defense also needs to create some turnovers and they should be able to do that.  Look for the defense to have a good game against the Jaguars' 32nd-ranked offense.


Special Teams

Devin Hester is long overdue to return a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown, and if he gets his hands on a ball in this game he could be heading for the end zone.  The Jaguars will probably choose to keep it away from him as much as possible.

Kicker Robbie Gould is having a fine season and is very reliable.  If the game comes down to a field goal to win it, Gould should be able to deliver.  The punting game has been solid with Adam Podlesh punting the ball well.  Coverage teams have been playing very well since their disaster in Green Bay (when the Packers scored a touchdown on a fake field goal) and haven’t allowed any big returns.

Look for special teams to play an important role in this Sunday’s game.


The Final Word

The Bears need to take a copy of their game plan from Monday night and do the same thing all over again against the Jaguars this Sunday.  The Bears should be able to get something going against the Jaguars in this game as Jacksonville hasn’t been playing good football.  But can the Bear’s offense continue to improve and put up some of the same numbers that it did against the Colts and the Cowboys, or will they slip backwards into mediocrity and not perform as well as they potentially could (see the Green Bay game)?

If the Bears offense is up and performs well in this game, they will win.  They have the capability to have a good offense and should have success against the Jaguars, but the Bears have stumbled at times with their offense in the past few games.  Let’s hope that the offense can pick up where it left off against the Cowboys and have a good game.

The defense promises to be up to the challenge and could have a big outing with second-year quarterback Gabbert leading the Jaguars.  Their primary mission will be to shut down Jones-Drew and force the Jaguars to pass the ball, which could lead to problems for Jacksonville.  The pass rush will have to get some pressure on Gabbert and force him to throw the ball quicker than he wants to, giving the Bears some opportunities for turnovers. 

Chicago needs to win this game not only to keep pace with the Vikings (who are playing the lowly Tennessee Titans this weekend) but to also keep momentum going heading into their bye week.

Prediction: Chicago 28 Jacksonville 13