On Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears (3-1) destroyed the Minnesota Vikings (2-2) in a slugfest by a score of 16-6. Chicago proved once again who has the best defense in football as they held the Vikings to just six points even though a couple of key starters were out due to injuries (Akiem Hicks) and personal reasons (Roquan Smith). By stuffing Minnesota, the Bears climbed back into a share of first place with the Green Bay Packers (3-1) who lost on Thursday night to the Philadelphia Eagles (2-2). Let’s take a look at which players were deserving of Bears game balls after Sunday’s win.
Week Four Chicago Bears Game Balls: A Decisive Victory Over Minnesota Vikings Despite Several Key Starters Out
Superstar defensive end Akiem Hicks was out on Sunday because of his injured leg as suffered the previous week in the Monday Night Football game at Washington. Thus, Nick Williams had to fill in for Hicks. As it turned out, not only did Williams fill in, he earned a game ball for his performance against Minnesota
Nick Williams had a fantastic game facing a vulnerable Vikings offensive line. Williams totaled seven tackles, three solo stops, two sacks, and one fumble recovery as the ‘next man up’. Williams is a 29-year-old veteran out of Samford. He was originally drafted in the seventh round in 2013 by Pittsburgh. Williams made the Bears roster last year and has become a prominent part of Chicago’s rotation on the defensive line. Playing in just two games in 2018, already this year he has totaled four sacks in the first four games, the first sacks of his career. If Williams can keep up his production, it will help Hicks stay healthy. That will be important as Hicks notoriously logs the most snaps on the Bears defense (780 snaps last year according to Football Outsiders).
Our second game ball is awarded to Roy Robertson-Harris. Currently starting across from Nick Williams and next to defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, Robertson-Harris is doing a fine job while the injured Bilal Nichols is out. Robertson-Harris continued his aggressive play in 2019 totaling three tackles, two of which were solo tackles, and 1.5 sacks. For the season, he has now put up an impressive total of nine tackles along with 2.5 sacks.
Robertson-Harris gets a game ball but honestly the entire Bears front seven could have gotten game balls this week. They played together as a unit and disrupted Minnesota’s offensive line and thus Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Plus, Chicago held Minnesota to 40 yards rushing on the day. Overall, it was an outstanding performance by the Bears ‘Monsters of the Midway’ defense.
Our final game ball goes to quarterback Chase Daniel. The backup quarterback job is one of the best, and worst, jobs in professional sports. Everyone loves you until you get your chance. Then if you perform poorly and people want you off the roster. Chase Daniel is a solid backup to the starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He’s a good fit for the Bears under head coach Matt Nagy because he understands the offense that was brought to Chicago from Kansas City. Nagy trusts Daniel.
In this game, Trubisky was hurt early and Daniel had to jump into the action with little warning. All he did was complete 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown. Daniel had no turnovers and did his part to win the game over the Vikings. If Daniel needs to play again this week against Oakland he’ll be ready. If he performs the same way, producing a rating of 101.4, the Bears will be happy and should feel confident in a victory over the Raiders.
Player of the Game: Nick Kwiatkoski
The Week 4 Player of the Game is linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. Filling in for the mysteriously absent Roquan Smith, Kwiatkoski played like a difference-maker for the Bears defense. An experienced backup, Kwiatkoski has been around since getting drafted by Chicago in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft. Now in his fourth season out of West Virginia, Kwiatkoski has become an integral piece of the linebacker corps, rotating with both Smith and Danny Trevathan.
In this game, he totaled a team-high 10 tackles, nine of them being solo stops. He added impact plays with two tackles for loss including one sack. Also, Kwiatkoski caused havoc by blitzing up the middle and piledriving Vikings running back Dalvin Cook back into Cousins’ face, which caused a sack by a fellow Bears defender. It was an outstanding performance by a player thrown into a last-minute situation once it was discovered the normal starter couldn’t play due to personal reasons.
The Raiders Are Next
This Sunday the Bears travel to London, England for a matchup with the Oakland Raiders (2-2). Head coach Jon Gruden will be in the spotlight along with Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack due to last season’s fiasco which led to Mack being traded to the Bears on Labor Day weekend 2018. Look for Mack to have a field day against the Raiders offensive tackles. Last year the Raiders gave up 52 sacks which were fifth-most in the NFL. Have they solved their problems this year? So far they have allowed eight sacks in four games which ranks tied for 19th most in the league. That’s a solid improvement by the Raiders, who signed offensive tackle Trent Brown away from the New England Patriots this past off-season. Will Mack be successful against Brown and/or their other tackle Kolton Miller?
How will Chase Daniel play at quarterback for the Bears should he need to play once again for the injured Trubisky? Will Coach Nagy run the ball more frequently with rookie David Montgomery? Last week he logged 21 carries but produced only 53 rushing yards (2.5 yards per carry). The Raiders rush defense is ranked 16th in the league giving up 104.5 rushing yards per game. However, Oakland’s pass defense is ranked 27th in the NFL, giving up 281 passing yards per game. Look for the Bears offense to be successful in this game, possibly having their best passing output of the young season.
Week 5 Prediction
It’s time to predict this week’s outcome. The Bears are favored by five points according to Thursday’s Chicago Tribune. Go ahead and place your bets on Chicago to be victorious as both a straight-up (S/U) winner and also against the point spread (ATS). Confidently pick the Bears by 11.
Chicago Bears 24, Oakland Raiders 13