Week 5 sees the takeaway-happy Chicago Bears raiding London as they face the Oakland Raiders. There is a caveat, however, as Chase Daniel will be starting in the place of the injured Mitchell Trubisky. While the defense will get back Roquan Smith in some capacity, a boon for the group, but there is an undeniable trap-game feel to this game.
Chicago Bears Raid London
Daniel came on in relief of Trubisky in the opening minutes of the Bears Week 4 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and mostly played like anything but a backup. He looked decisive with the football, threw a touchdown, and the biggest risks involving him were taken by his head coach who threw caution to the wind and called a designed quarterback run.
— NFL (@NFL) September 29, 2019
But Daniel only threw for 195 yards on 30 attempts. After the opening-drive touchdown, the Bears managed three more scoring drives but all were field goals. Yes, getting any points is always a good thing, but even those drives dried up. Chicago punted on four of their final six drives and turned the ball over on downs on their last drive.
Daniel had a similar performance against the Detroit Lions in 2018, his first of two starts last year after Trubisky injured his other shoulder against the Vikings. He finished that game with 230 passing yards and two scores with no picks. The Bears won that game 23-16, sealing it on the strength of back-to-back picks by Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller; the former scored.
The other shoe dropped the following week, though, when the Bears faced the New York Giants. Daniel’s first pass was intercepted and housed by Alec Ogletree. The 10-year veteran threw 39 times, completing 26 for 285 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. That game saw Tarik Cohen and Odell Beckham Jr. throw touchdowns and Akiem Hicks run for one, but the Bears fell, 30-27 in overtime.
The injury bug has bitten the Bears and the defense is no exception. Down Bilal Nichols and Hicks, Smith missed the contest against the Vikings. Nick Kwiatkoski (and Nick Williams) filled in admirably and Chicago shut down Minnesota, who came in with Dalvin Cook leading the league in rushing.
Thankfully, Smith is set to return this week after stating his personal issue (yes, that is an acceptable explanation, nosey) was behind him. Hicks will reportedly be a game-time decision. With Daniel starting, the Bears will need all available hands on deck. The Bears currently sit second in the NFL in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed per game.
Roquan Smith: does the right thing, faces Chicago media after personal issue.
— Wes Blankenship (@Wes_nship) October 2, 2019
The Raiders are 21st in both points and yards allowed per game; not quite a juggernaut. But the Giants were 19th in scoring and 21st in yards last year when they knocked off the Bears. Chicago let New York get within four points with a field goal before halftime then allowed points on four of six New York drives in the second half.
The Bears have their bye week in Week 6 so it is not hard to imagine a situation where they are looking past a sub-par opponent to a chance to recuperate. But knowing how much this game means to former-Raider Khalil Mack, there should be ample motivation to get the job done. If not, they could have a repeat of Week 13 2018.
London: Bridge or Trap?
All the signs of a trap are there just as they were for that Giants tilt. Daniel will have to play better this time than his last start and the defense will have to, well, keep doing what they do. The Raiders are 2-2 and coming off a 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Derek Carr (72.1 percent completion, 888 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions in 2019) has been sacked two times per game. That number figures to be higher after Sunday with the Bears averaging over four per game.
Prediction: The Bears defense, on the strength of Mack’s motivation and Smith’s return, shut down Josh Jacobs (91.1 YPG) and lay out Carr; cruising into the bye. Bears 24 Raiders 16
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