The Chicago Bears escaped their challenging first two games at 1-1. Nobody had that happened. So there is an opportunity for them to gain ground in the NFC. It starts with a game against the Houston Texans on Sunday. While their opponent is winless, both of their games were close. They tied the Indianapolis Colts and lost by a touchdown to Denver. So it isn’t wise to assume the Bears can win this one handily.
That said, it is a game they have a favorable chance to pull out. It comes down to how they respond to that ugly wake-up call in Green Bay. Early signs indicate a frustrated team and eagerness to get back to work. That suggests they’ll be ready to go on Sunday. It may not be the breakout everybody wants, but there aren’t any extra points for style. The only thing everybody is interested in is a win.
Chicago Bears face an interesting challenge against Houston
The national broadcast will try to make much out of Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago. That doesn’t matter. With all due respect, Smith ceased being the head coach of the Bears a decade ago. While his tenure was the second-most successful of the Super Bowl era, fans have long since moved on. No, this game will focus on the two young quarterbacks, Justin Fields and David Mills.
Both have struggled to start the season. Fields is averaging 95.5 yards passing through two games with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mills hasn’t been much better, completing only 56% of his passes with two touchdowns and three fumbles. He’s also been sacked six times. Each needs a rebound game after frustrating losses in Week 2. Whoever succeeds may build some vital momentum moving into October.
Roquan Smith (hip) – Not only did Smith struggle in the loss to Green Bay, but now he’s dealing with an injury that knocked him out of Wednesday’s practice. The linebacker is trying desperately to play well with a lucrative contract at state. It seems like luck is turning against him. The Chicago Bears hope he can still play, considering how weak their run defense has been since the season began.
Maliek Collins (knee) – Houston’s interior defensive line was already a problem when everybody was healthy. Their pass rush isn’t good, and their run defense might be much worse. So losing a veteran starter like Collins hurts. He’s one of the few in that group that can at least be counted on to know his assignments. The timing could be bad, too, with the Bears’ interior offensive line getting healthy.
Darnell Mooney vs. Derek Stingley Jr. – Chicago hasn’t been able to get their top receiver going through two weeks. Mooney has two catches for four yards. They’ll focus on getting him the football in this game and seek matchups against the Texans’ rookie cornerback. Stingley is talented but has shown his inexperience on several occasions. Mooney’s speed and route-running could give him problems.
Justin Jones vs. Scott Quessenberry – Starting Texans center Justin Britt is out with an injury. That puts Quessenberry in as the replacement. He’s a veteran but has a dubious track record in pass protection. Jones didn’t generate much pressure for the Bears through the first two weeks. With a backup center and a young quarterback with limited mobility, this could be his biggest opportunity yet.
Brandin Cooks (WR) – The speedy wide receiver might be among the most underrated in the NFL. He’s been the focal point of Houston’s passing attack thus far, with 22 targets. That is ten more than the next closest receiver. Mills is going to look his ways multiple times in the game. The Bears must ensure they don’t let him get deep because he can shift momentum with one big play. Sammy Watkins proved that last week.
This is a straight up superhero run from #Bears David Montgomery.
Give me all the crow, he was outrageously good at the second level on Sunday. Utterly heroic performance, nigh untacklable.
What a phenomenal way to get extension talks brewing. pic.twitter.com/xLKYzke1ZA
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) September 20, 2022
David Montgomery (RB) – Houston’s defense is 30th in the NFL against the run. They have 27 missed tackles. Montgomery leads all running backs with eight broken tackles through two games. This feels like a recipe for disaster from the Texans’ point of view. Chicago has shown a willingness to feed Montgomery. If he gets to the second level often enough, he could make life miserable for their defense.
Prediction: Bears win 24-20
This is the first game where it feels like the Chicago Bears match up well with their opponent. Houston struggles to stop the run and is vulnerable to the deep pass. Their pass protection is inconsistent, and they don’t have a proven running game of their own. The Bears are back at Soldier Field with a chip on their shoulders after what happened last week. If they can avoid too many mistakes, they should win this game.