3 Ways the Bears Can Upset NFC-Leading Cardinals in Week 13
The Chicago Bears face one of the most daunting Week 13 matchups.
Matt Nagy's team hosts the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals off a bye week.
Arizona will have a healthier Kyler Murray patrolling the pocket with a full complement of offensive weapons to work with.
Chicago needs to bank on some of the successes it achieved earlier in the season to come close to pulling off an upset at Soldier Field.
Four of the Bears' five lowest rushing-yard concessions came from their four victories. They limited the ground attacks of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 and Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5. The other two wins came against the winless Detroit Lions.
If the Bears play well on the interior, make Murray feel uncomfortable and stick to what they are good at offensively, there is a chance they can pull off their most surprising result of the season.
Contain Arizona's Rushing Attack
Chicago's defense has a clear blueprint to success.
The Bears are 4-1 when they hold an opponent under 100 rushing yards.
The NFC North side must limit James Conner's progression on Sunday to have a chance of upsetting the Cardinals.
Conner has been one of the most effective running backs in the NFL this season. He has 555 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Conner should be asked to carry a majority of the rushing production on Sunday as Kyler Murray works his way back into a rhythm in the pocket.
Murray has been rested since Week 9 due to an ankle injury, but he could start in Week 13 after receiving another week to rest up. Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury has not made an official decision on his starting quarterback as of Wednesday morning.
The Bears need to prepare for Murray to start, and if that is the case, they must keep him within the hash marks on the gridiron to avoid a large rushing concession.
If the Bears limit Conner's progress and force Murray to throw instead of scramble, they will at least have a shot to stay close with the Cardinals.
Keep Feeding David Montgomery
The Bears need their rushing game to be more effective than Arizona's to win on Sunday.
David Montgomery should be prepared to earn one of his largest workloads of the season. Chicago needs to set the tone in the trenches and keep the ball out of Murray's hands.
Montgomery ran the ball 17 times for 46 yards, and he caught all three of his targets on Thanksgiving Day.
Montgomery needs to increase his yards per carry and hold the same effectiveness in the passing game to help the Bears move the ball down the field.
Both the Carolina and Green Bay offenses possess high-volume running backs who can also do damage in the aerial game.
If Montgomery earns four or five yards per carry and makes a few catches in key spots, Chicago has a chance to compete as long as the defense limits Murray's production.
Target Tight Ends at a High Rate
Andy Dalton had success throwing to his tight ends on Thanksgiving Day.
Cole Kmet had eight catches on 11 targets for 65 yards, and Jimmy Graham produced 34 yards and a touchdown.
Dalton needs Kmet and Graham to be effective in the middle of the field on Sunday since Darnell Mooney will receive a ton of attention on the outside from the Arizona cornerbacks.
Justin Fields and Allen Robinson II were both listed as questionable on Tuesday, per ESPN.com, but we will not know until later in the week if either player will step on the field Sunday.
Chicago needs to use Kmet and Graham often no matter who is active for the clash with the Cardinals.
The Bears are not going to have many large gains, so they need to methodically work the ball down the field through Montgomery and 10-15-yard passing plays.
Kmet thrived in a high-volume role against the Lions and in the Week 9 clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he had a season-high 87 receiving yards.
Graham's physical presence could be vital in the red zone, especially if Arizona crowds the box in an attempt to stop Montgomery.
Chicago needs to hit Arizona's defense from as many angles as possible, and if Robinson is out or limited, the tight ends will play a massive role in spreading out the Cardinals.