This Sunday, the 3-0 Chicago Bears return home to host the 2-1 Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field. In a matchup of veteran quarterbacks and tough defenses, this week’s game has all the makings of an instant classic.
For the Chicago Bears, the Nick Foles era officially begins. After the team fell behind early against the Atlanta Falcons last week, longtime starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was benched in favor of the former Super Bowl MVP. Foles led the Bears offense to three late touchdowns to complete the comeback, solidifying himself as a starter in the process. Matt Nagy will have his hands full with the Colts’ defense, which ranks near the top of the league in most categories.
For the Indianapolis Colts, Philip Rivers has brought a sense of stability to the offense. In his first season with the team, Rivers is completing nearly 80% of his passes while compiling three touchdowns through as many weeks. However, Rivers has also averaged an interception per game. The danger of the Colts offense lies in their backfield, led by rookie running back Johnathan Taylor.
|Per Game Stats (Offense)||Bears||Colts|
|Points||24.7 (20th)||28 (13th)|
|Total Yards||368 (17th)||384.0 (12th)|
|Passing Yards||230 (23rd)||264.7 (10th)|
|Rushing Yards||138 (11th)||119.3 (15th)|
While the Bears gave up 371 yards against a high-powered Falcons offense last week, the team still ranks in the top ten of the league. The pass rush looked to come alive last week, with linebacker Khalil Mack recording a half-sack and constantly keeping pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan. Akiem Hicks continued his All-Pro level dominance as well, finishing with 1.5 sacks and as well as FIVE quarterback hits.
Statistically, the Colts rank at the very top of the league in yards allowed. Players such as Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie have returned to dominance in a secondary that has two touchdowns returned. Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner have also been key to the Colts’ defensive success. This is a group that will be a difficult test for Nick Foles’ first start in Chicago.
|Per Game Stats (Defense)||Bears||Colts|
|Points||20.7 (9th)||15 (1st)|
|Total Yards||364 (15th)||225.3 (1st)|
|Passing Yards||735 (16th)||132 (1st)|
|Rushing Yards||357 (16th)||93.3 (4th)|
Per usual, I am joined by fellow Bears On Tap contributors Kevin Gora and Aalap Desai to give our X-Factors of the week.
Duke: Entire Offensive Line
“Across the board, the offensive line took a step back last week. Mitchell Trubisky was the leading rusher of the team and he was benched in the third quarter. Any run that started with the quarterback under center was almost destined to fail. Luckily, Nick Foles delivered some strikes under pressure, otherwise the box score would’ve looked pathetic. This was against a banged-up Falcons defense that ranks near the bottom of the league. This won’t work against the top unit in football. If the Bears offense stands a chance to put up points in this one, they must win the line of scrimmage early and often.”
– Duke Coughlin (@ThatPodGuyDuke)
Kevin: WR Darnell Mooney
“Darnell Mooney will be the man who can blow this game open. He will not record a bulk volume of receptions throughout the 2020 season, but he has big-play potential every game. The Colts lack depth in their defensive backfield, which can be an advantage for the Bears when Mooney steps onto the field. He is still new to the league, so the fifth-round rookie likely won’t draw much attention as a real threat. If this game is close and the Bears need a deep play, Mooney may have enough support from the coaching staff to be on the field for an expendable play.”
– Kevin Gora (@kevingora21)
Aalap: DL Roy Robertson-Harris/Bilal Nichols
“These two players will be tasked with lining up against Quenton Nelson on Sunday. It’s crucial that they don’t get pushed around by the 6-foot-5, 330 lb left guard. If Robertson-Harris and Nichols can’t handle their business against Nelson, that will open up running lanes for rookie running back Jonathan Taylor. The last thing the Bears defense can afford is the Colts gashing them on the ground. They need to stop the run and force Philip Rivers to beat them. If they’re able to do that, Rivers will be handing out gifts to the Bears secondary like it’s Christmas morning.”
– Aalap Desai (@ADesai410)
Duke: 24-17 Bears (3-0)
“While many expect the Bears offense to explode this week, I expect growing pains early on. The Falcons have become a factory of sadness after blowing 16-plus point leads in two straight weeks, so forgive me for taking the victory last week with a grain of salt. However, I believe the offense will score enough to get it done with an efficient day from Nick Foles and a balanced attack on the ground. The defense should have a field day with good ole Philip Rivers, who will give them a chance at the ball. If the front seven can contain Johnathan Taylor, expect the pass rush to pin their ears back and wreak havoc early and often.”
Kevin: 27-21 Bears (2-1)
“I made the mistake of choosing the Falcons against the Bears, but I have come back to my senses this week. This is a game the Bears aren’t supposed to win. They’re going up against a team that many argue is better. This sounds like the perfect formula for Nick Foles’ debut start for the Bears. The storyline is perfect for a player who thrives in doubt. The Colts new quarterback, Philip Rivers, has had a shaky start to the season, but the rest of the team has picked up the slack to help Indianapolis begin the season with a 2-1 record. The matchups for each team will be close. The only position group that is substantially better for the Colts is their offensive line. On the other side, one can argue Foles may have a higher ceiling of play. If the Bears’ veteran QB picks up where he left off in week three, then the Bears will grind this one out to stay undefeated.”
Aalap: 30-27 Colts (3-0)
“This game is really a tough one to predict. I’ve been jostling with it in my head for days. The Bears defense is still pretty solid but they’re leaky against the run. The secondary is stacked with ballhawks and Philip Rivers is on the other side. The Bears offense, now led by Nick Foles, is capable of scoring…I think. This game is a coin flip for me. It will really come down to coaching and each team’s ability to limit mistakes. Frank Reich is not Matt Patricia, Joe Judge, or Dan Quinn. He’s not prone to making poor decisions. He’ll keep running on the Bears until they prove they can stop it, which may be too little, too late for Chicago. It’s time for Chuck Pagano to pull out all the stops against his former team. My heart says Bears but my right now my brain says Colts.”
That does it for the On Tap Sports Net crew’s week four preview. The Bears and Colts were originally scheduled for a noon kickoff, but the game has now been pushed back to 3:25 PM central time on Sunday, October 4th. The game will still be broadcast on CBS. For further analysis and commentary on all things Bears, be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast.