Bears vs. Raiders: Full Breakdown and Analysis for Preseason Week 3

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Bears vs. Raiders: Full Breakdown and Analysis for Preseason Week 3
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The Chicago Bears are trying to get back into contention in the NFC North after a 10-win season wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs a year ago.

Unfortunately for new head coach Marc Trestman, this year's Bears team looked a lot like last year's Bears team in its win over the San Diego Chargers a week ago.

The defense played well, but the offense was choppy outside of the connection between quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, which appears as strong as ever.

For the Oakland Raiders, Week 2 of the 2013 NFL preseason was a game best forgotten.

Oakland's 28-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. The Raiders were carved up like a Christmas goose by Drew Brees, and to say that the offensive line was Swiss cheese is an affront to cheese.

The two teams square off Friday night in a preseason game that should feature extensive playing time for the starters, and here are some of the storylines we'll be watching as the game unfolds.

 

Chicago Bears Major Storyline No. 1: Offensive Continuity

The Bears scored 33 points against the Chargers last week, and Jay Cutler completed 80 percent of his passes, but those stats are about as misleading as you can get.

All four of Cutler's completions went to Brandon Marshall, and a revamped Chicago offensive line struggled in pass protection, an issue that was the team's Achilles' heel on offense a season ago.

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If there was a silver lining in an uneven performance by the offense, it was the running game, which generated over 130 yards. That included eight carries for 74 yards from Matt Forte, who peeled off a 58-yard run that set up a Cutler-to-Marshall scoring strike.

A matchup with an Oakland defense that has struggled mightily should be just what the doctor ordered, although Cutler needs to get wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett involved in the passing game.

 

Chicago Bears Major Storyline No. 2: Bostic the Boss?

The retirement of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher left a big hole in the middle of Chicago's 4-3 defense, and it was originally believed that hole would be filled by veteran free-agent acquisition D.J. Williams.

However, Williams has been nursing a calf injury, and by the time he gets onto the field, he may not have a job.

That's because of the stellar play of rookie Jon Bostic, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the preseason opener and laid a crushing hit on wide receiver Mike Willie in the second preseason game.

Granted, Bostic has also made his fair share of rookie mistakes, including some missed assignments and bad angles. This game with the Raiders will give Bostic an extended audition with the starters, and a strong showing will solidify his grip on the starting job at "Mike."

 

Oakland Raiders Major Storyline No. 1: They're Not Blocking, Coach!

The New Orleans Saints blitzed the Oakland Raiders more than many teams usually do in the preseason, and the results for the Raiders were positively catastrophic. The Raiders allowed seven sacks, including five of starter Matt Flynn.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Granted, the loss of left tackle Jared Veldheer to a serious triceps injury certainly didn't help matters any, and head coach Dennis Allen admitted that the Raiders are still exploring outside options, according to Steve Corkran of the San Jose Mercury News.

"We always have to look at what options are out there," Allen said in a conference call. "Anthony Munoz, he's not out there right now."

In the interim all the Raiders can do is try to improve the players they have, and Allen said that the Raiders have "got to do a better job in the passing game of being able to execute when [they] do have pressure."

The Bears are going to pose another stiff test for that offensive line. They probably won't blitz as much as the Saints did, but defensive ends Julius Peppers and Corey Wooton and tackle Henry Melton are more than capable of causing pressure on their own.

 

Oakland Raiders Major Storyline No. 2: Defense? What Defense?

As badly as the Oakland offensive line performed against New Orleans, the defense may have been worse.

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Yes, Brees has made more than one defense look silly over his career, but the Raiders defense provided what amounted to no resistance. Brees led the team on five first-half scoring drives, completing 14-of-18 passes for over 200 yards.

The pass rush was a major problem, in that there wasn't one. Granted, the Raiders had a lot of personnel turnover up front this year, but Oakland's starting front four was unable to generate any real pressure, which in turn exposed a shaky Raiders secondary.

This week the Raiders won't be facing an offense that's nearly as potent as that of New Orleans, but if the Oakland pass rush can't generate any more pressure against Jay Cutler than it did against Drew Brees, then it's going to be another long night.

 

Bottom Line

Neither of these teams was especially impressive in its last game, and frankly there really isn't anywhere for the Raiders to go but up.

With that said, however, the Raiders are going from facing the NFL's worst defense from a year ago to going up against one of the best.

As badly as the Raiders played, the starters did avoid turning the ball over. Going up against a team that specializes in forcing them, though, that's likely to change, and the Bears will win this game handily.

Final-Score Prediction: Chicago 27, Oakland 10

 

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