The AFC’s best team meets one of the NFC’s best in a midseason inter-conference battle. Week 10’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Houston Texans (7-1) and the Chicago Bears (7-1) is an instant classic in the making.
Houston was rattled, beaten and then some the last time it played an NFC North team. The Green Bay Packers strolled into Reliant Stadium and laid the smack down on the Texans in front of their hometown crowd.
Luckily for Houston, the Chicago Bears don’t have the high-flying vertical game that the Packers do. But, they do have an opportunistic and tenacious defense that’s carried them to their hot start.
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
When: Sunday, November 11 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports All Access
Listen: NFL Audio Pass
Spread: Chicago -1 (via Bovada)
This one’s definitely going to be a close one. You’re picking a winner here so go with the team you think has the best shot at winning. Chicago has a stout defense but it will be facing one of the best zone-run-blocking teams in the NFL.
If the Bears commit to stopping Arian Foster the team’s secondary may be susceptible to the play-action passing of Matt Schaub. That and the J.J. Watt-led defensive front of the Texans will cause nightmares for Jay Cutler, and his offensive line is the reason the Texans are going to come away with the win.
Chicago is 2-2 at home against the spread while the visiting Texans are 2-1 while on the road.
Over/Under: 41.5 (via Bovada)
Barring a vastly uncharacteristic game by both of these teams this game is going to fall well short of the 41.5 point over/under. What I mean by that is both teams play a game-control type of offense and stingy defense that rarely make mistakes. Both teams are Top 10 in the league in rush defense and the Texans are fourth-best against the pass.
Defense wins champions and makes for close, hard-fought Sunday night contests.
Injury Report via CBS Sports (as of 11/8)
LB Bryan Braman, Neck, Probable
RB James Casey, Illness, Questionable
NT Shaun Cody, Ribs, Questionable
TE Owen Daniels, Back, Questionable
S Quintin Demps, Thumb/forearm, Probable
WR Lestar Jean, Knee, Probable
CB Jonathan Joseph, Quadriceps, Questionable
S Shiloh Keo, Back, Probable
CB Brice McCain, Knee, Questionable
NT Earl Mitchell, Ankle, Probable
LB Jesse Nading, Foot/neck, Probable
DE Antonio Smith, Ankle, Questionable
RB Ben Tate, Hamstring, Questionable
WR Kevin Walter, Groin, Questionable
QB T.J. Yates, Elbow (Throwing), Probable
DE Israel Idonije, Ankle, Probable
WR Alshon Jeffrey, Hand, Questionable
DT Henry Melton, Back, Probable
DT Matt Toeaina, Calf, Questionable
Fantasy Big Plays
Houston: RB Arian Foster
Arian Foster is a master of his team’s offensive system. In the process, the zone-blocking scheme has lifted Foster to elite running back status. He’s an absolute every-week starter no matter who he’s going up against.
Foster has the ability to break a big run at any time and also has the ability to kill secondaries if he can get the ball out in space on a screen or delay pattern.
Expect your top fantasy stud to produce a good day of fantasy points despite the tough matchup he’s going into.
Projected Stats: 22 carries, 92 yards, 1-2 TDs; 2 receptions, 35 yards, 1 TD
Chicago: RB Matt Forte
Forte has scored in consecutive weeks and looks to be at or near 100 percent health-wise as the Bears head into their toughest matchup since Week at Green Bay.
If anyone on the Bears is going to make an impact it’s going to be Forte, no matter whose defense is lined up across the line-of-scrimmage from him. His solid play, especially around the goal line, has helped him to secure the majority of carries in the Bears’ backfield.
Michael Bush is a threat to take a few touches, but Forte has been getting the majority of red-zone looks.
Projected Stats: 18 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD; 4 receptions, 43 yards, 0 TD
Key to Victory
Jay Cutler has been sacked a second-to-highest 28 times so far this season. That’s one more time than Michael Vick and just one less than league-leader Aaron Rodgers. The Texans are tied for third in the NFL with 25 sacks led by league leader J.J. Watt who has 10.5 himself.
This battle will decide the game. If the Bears can find a way to get Cutler away from the pressure by moving him out of the pocket and by keeping down and distances manageable, the Bears will have a shot to win. If it’s open season on Cutler, it’ll be a long night for Chicago on national television.
As good as the Bears are on the line-of-scrimmage, the Texans are better—on both sides of the ball. Jay Cutler will be sacked multiple times and Arian Foster will help carry the Texans’ offense to a narrow but decisive victory at Soldier Field on Sunday night.
Final Score: Texans 20, Bears 14