Widely penned as a possible Super Bowl preview, the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears will meet tonight in Chicago as a battle between 7-1 teams. Both have rolled to this point, each coincidently only losing to the Green Bay Packers. While all eyes will be on the defenses, the ability for the offenses to move and protect the football could be the key to coming away with a victory tonight.
Protect The Football
The Bears’ defense leads the NFL in takeaways, including seven interceptions returned for touchdowns. The Texans, on the other hand, have turned the ball over the least amount of times in the league. The lack of turnovers have been a key to the Texans’ success so far this season, and today they face their greatest challenge protecting the football. The Bears’ offense benefits greatly from the optimal field position created by the turnovers, so the Texans can not only help their offense score points, but can also help out the defense by giving them more field to work with by not turning over the ball.
Stay Balanced On Offense
The last couple of weeks, the Texans have opened up their playbook a bit and given QB Matt Schaub more responsibilities by calling more drop back passing plays. While it was the right decision and has been successful, the Texans will need to get back to their patented combination of zone-blocking runs and play-action passes. Keeping the Bears’ defense off balance will go a long way to gaining serious yardage and putting up points.
Put Pressure On QB Jay Cutler
The Bears’ offense has been excellent this season, but does have its weaknesses, far more than their defense has. One of those that the Texans can take advantage of is an average Bears offensive line and a quarterback in Cutler who has a habit of holding onto the ball a little too long at times. The Texans’ pass rush has an opportunity to be in Cutler’s face frequently, causing him to become flustered which always leads to turnovers and bad plays.
BIG GAME ALERT
OLBs Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed
As mentioned above, the Texans D has an opportunity today to put some added pressure on Cutler. All eyes will be on blocking DE J.J. Watt, who rightfully so has gained the attention of all pass protectors around the NFL. This should open up things for Barwin and Reed, who are likely to face a good deal of one-man blocking. Each has a chance today to repeatedly beat the man lined up in front of them and spend a lot of time in the Bears’ backfield.
The Texans have played two marquee games this season against the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens, and neither lived up to the billing. I think today’s game is going to be different. Look for a low scoring, defensive battle in poor weather that will feature plenty of the ground game. In the end, the Texans will keep the ball in Arian Foster’s hands, will limit their turnovers, and take advantage of the bad weather and the Bears’ O-line.
TEXANS 17, BEARS 14
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