Bears Rest Jay Cutler, What Other Weaknesses Can Ravens Exploit?
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By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens (4-5) narrowly escaped with a 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Now they’ll turn their attention towards the Chicago Bears (5-4) who weren’t as lucky in their contest against the Detroit Lions.
Bears on Offense
Jay Cutler is widely considered to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Unfortunately for Chicago, Cutler will not play against the Ravens on Sunday. The Bears QB suffered what has been reported as a high ankle sprain in the loss against Detroit. Josh McCown will play in place of Cutler against Baltimore.
McCown has played relatively well in relief duty for the oft-injured Cutler. So far this season, he’s thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions. His quarterback rating is a respectable 103.2. Even with those numbers, expect the Bears to put the ball in the hands of Matt Forte. The Ravens defense made Bengals QB Andy Dalton look like a college freshman last Sunday and will look to do the same to McCown. If Forte can get things going on the ground, it will definitely open things up in the passing game.
The Ravens realize this and will do their best to force McCown to beat them with his arm. That will also mean containing big-play wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Defensive backs Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith did a great job shutting down the Bengals receivers. They’ll need a similar performance against Marshall if they want to keep Chicago away from the scoreboard.
Bears on Defense
The Bears defense hasn’t played particularly well this season. But against the Lions on Sunday, the unit played well against Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Bears held Detroit to 219 yards through the air. Unfortunately for Bears fans, they also gave up 145 rushing yards on the ground.
Chicago won’t have to worry about that against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens possess one of the worst rushing units in all of football. They won’t have a hard time getting to the ball carrier in the backfield. The emphasis for Chicago this week will be containing Joe Flacco. With a diminished supporting cast, Flacco has been forced to do more with less. The Bears won’t have to force Baltimore to become one-dimensional, they’re already there. However, Chicago will need to keep Flacco from hitting on the big play. One or two deep passes could be all the difference for both teams.
Marc Trestman is the head football coach for the Chicago Bears. He has admitted in the news recently that he might have let Cutler stay in the game too long against the Lions, aggravating his starting quarterback’s injury. Maybe this will have an effect on how he manages a potential pounding by the Baltimore defense. But don’t count on it.
The Ravens are tied with the Bears in the all-time series at 2-2. The Ravens won the last meeting between these two teams 31-7 in 2009.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.