Both the Bears and the Ravens are coming off big divisional games. The Bears had a late rally fall short against Detroit, while the Ravens held on to win in overtime against Cincinnati.
As usual, the Ravens have a stingy defense. They're eighth in the league in scoring defense and 10th in the AFC with 13 takeaways. Their offense hasn't been quite up to par, however, as they're 21st in scoring and 29th in yardage.
For more insight on this matchup I reached out to Baltimore Featured Columnist Shehan Peiris.
What is something you’re concerned about with the Ravens facing the Bears?
SP: What concerns me about the upcoming matchup against the Bears is the production of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Both of them are extremely talented, and Jeffery has established himself as one of the better receivers in the league.
The Ravens secondary played a phenomenal game last week against a talented Cincinnati Bengals receiving corps, but coverage has been inconsistent for Baltimore this season.
If the secondary can replicate their performance from last week, then they’ll be fine. If they can't, Josh McCown is more than capable of finding both of them, especially in the red zone.
I think the duo of Jeffery and Marshall are what concerns most opponents at this point. They're both big, physical and capable of making big plays.
On paper, it looks like the Ravens have a big secondary that may match up well with the Bears' duo. They rank first in pass coverage on Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Their pass rush (third in the league with 32 sacks) could also limit the time they have to get open. If the Ravens give them too much attention, Matt Forte could burn them with some big plays out of the backfield.
What is one area you think the Ravens can exploit in the matchup?
SP: One matchup that is a Ravens advantage is their pass rush. Through a season of inconsistency in every phase of the game, the pass rush has been the one constant.
The Bears line is much better than it was last year, but the matchup of Elvis Dumervil or Terrell Suggs against Jordan Mills should create problems for McCown all game.
I think you hit the nail on the head with this one.
McCown looked great against the Packers, but he was barely pressured. The game is a little different for a quarterback when he's starting to get hit a lot. Mills has struggled all season, so the Bears will almost certainly have to give him help. If they help him, it will leave left tackle Jermon Bushrod one-on-one with either Dumervil or Suggs, an advantage for Baltimore.
Who do you think wins and why?
Unfortunately, I think the Chicago Bears win the game. There have been no signs of life from the Ravens offense, and while a decimated Bears defense could be just the answer, Baltimore (and Joe Flacco) struggle on the road.
It will be a close game, but the Bears offense will be able to make more plays than the Ravens offense. Their ability to run the ball will control the clock, while Baltimore’s drives will stall repeatedly.
This is a close one that I think will come down to turnovers. McCown has shown to be an adequate game manager who can make the occasional big plays. Flacco has been a bit more turnover prone against a defense that thrives at taking the ball away.
I'll take the Bears 20-17 with an interception returned for a touchdown by Major Wright for the go-ahead score.
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