Usually, writing a preview for an NFL game during the previous week's Monday Night Football game is a bit too early.
However, three things have forced me to be more anxious to write a preview for this Thursday's matchup between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins. One of those factors, obviously, is the fact that the game is to be played on Thursday.
Therefore, as much as I would like to savor the Bears' victory over Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, I have to put my focus on the task at hand a little earlier than usual.
Another reason for the early preview is, well, the Eagles have already sealed the Monday night victory over the Redskins. The other, and perhaps most important, factor is a piece of breaking news that is very relevant to the upcoming game.
Due to injuries to Dolphin quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, Miami will start its third-string quarterback. His name is Tyler Thigpen.
Yes, Tyler Thigpen. Former quarterback of the mediocre 2008 Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, before Bears fans prematurely celebrate a second big victory in five days, there are a couple of things Chicago must do to make sure they leave South Beach with a win.
Contain the Dolphins' Running Game
In Chicago's win over the Vikings, the Bears' run defense held Minnesota to a total of 70 yards rushing. Adrian Peterson ran for only 51 yards on 17 carries.
It doesn't get any easier for the Bears' defense, as it faces Miami's running duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
If the Bears can shutdown the Dolphins' running game like it did the Vikings', it will force Thigpen to win the game for Miami. Brett Favre couldn't get Minnesota a win by himself, so there's no reason to believe Thigpen, who hasn't started an NFL game since 2008, will be able to do so either.
Keep Up the Balanced Offense
Considering Mike Martz's reputation as a pass-first offensive coordinator, I was impressed with his ability to mix some runs in his offensive game plan the past two games.
In Chicago's victory over the Buffalo Bills, Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined for 24 rushing attempts, in comparison to Jay Cutler's 30 passes. In the Minnesota game, Forte and Taylor 21 and 11 times, respectively, while Cutler threw the ball 35 times.
Mixing in some runs has worked out for the Bears not only by giving Cutler more passing options as a result of defenses having to respect the running game. It also keeps the opposing offense on the sidelines.
If the Bears can win the time-of-possession battle against the Dolphins, it will help them win this game.