The Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders are franchises with different goals as the 2013 NFL season approaches. Oakland plays host to Chicago on Friday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, when both teams will likely play their starters into the third quarter.
While every team likes to believe it has a shot at winning a title at the beginning of the year, there are some teams, like the Raiders, that simply don't have enough talent to turn that dream into reality.
Contrarily, the Bears have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to not only get into the playoffs but potentially make a deep run, if not win the Super Bowl.
New head coach and offensive guru Marc Trestman has his work cut out for him this season if Chicago has any hope of meeting such expectations, however. Jay Cutler must take a big step forward in his development, as does the offensive line, which is tasked with protecting him.
Here's what you need to know about this upcoming Bears-Raiders preseason tilt on Friday night.
Where: Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Oakland, Ca.
When: Friday, Aug. 23, at 10 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Lines (via Covers)
Over/Under: 38.5 pts.
Spread: Oakland (+3.5)
Because both teams have struggled to score the past couple of years, it shouldn't be a surprise that oddsmakers expect a relatively low-scoring game.
Chicago should win handily, so take the under on the points and the Bears to cover the spread.
Injury Report (via ESPN.com)
- Matt Blanchard, QB: out (broken hand)
- Earl Bennett, WR: questionable (concussion)
- Henry Melton, DT: questionable (concussion)
- D.J. Williams, LB: questionable (calf)
- Julius Peppers, DE: probable (hamstring)
- Darren McFadden, RB: probable (shoulder)
- Jacoby Ford, WR: probable (hamstring)
- D.J. Haydon, CB: probable (abdomen)
- Tyvon Branch, S: probable (ribs)
- Latavius Murray, RB: probable (ankle)
Bears Player to Watch: Jay Cutler, Quarterback
Chicago features a defense that is capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses, but the team's offense has struggled to move the ball—especially through the air—for years.
Last season, Cutler struggled with accuracy, completing just 58.5 percent of his passes, and barely got over the 3,000-yard mark in 15 games of action. He made too many mistakes, forcing balls into coverage, which was evidenced by his 19-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
The Bears ended the season with the NFL's No. 29-ranked passing attack, which was one of the chief reasons general manager Phil Emery fired defensive-minded head coach Lovie Smith after the team's 10-6 campaign.
Cutler has proven in the past that he's more than capable of running an explosive passing offense, however. In his final season with the Denver Broncos in 2008, he completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 4,526 yards with 26 touchdowns.
The Bears have weapons for Cutler to work with at the skill positions, too. With Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte, there's no reason he can't put together a season this year to match his production in 2008.
Raiders Player to Watch: Darren McFadden, Running Back
Coming out of college, McFadden was one of the most electrifying prospects in the nation.
A player who just oozes natural talent, the former Arkansas star offered a rare blend of size, speed, power and open-field skills—not to mention he can shred opposing defenses as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
But McFadden hasn't been able to stay healthy, missing significant action in each of his first five seasons in the NFL.
Coming off a horrendous season in 2012—his worst campaign as a professional—McFadden has a lot to prove. In a contract year, he's "betting on himself" to earn a long-term deal either with the Raiders or another team after this season:
It won't be easy for McFadden to thrive this year with the Raiders, however. He'll need to overcome not only his own history of injuries but also a porous offensive line.
In his first two preseason games, he's only rushed for 22 yards on eight carries.
The Bears should easily win on Friday night against the Raiders.
At home or away, Chicago's roster is infinitely better from top to bottom. The only way I see Oakland winning is if the Bears shoot themselves in the foot multiple times—which isn't out of the question.
Oakland simply doesn't have enough talent to compete with the Bears, though.
This one shouldn't be close.
Final Score: Bears win 27-13
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