Sunday will most likely be Tom Brady‘s last start in Soldier Field of his career. It would be another eight years before the New England Patriots would come back to play the Chicago Bears in the city of Chicago.
Brady is a future Hall of Famer, and it will be a great experience for Bears fans going to the game. However, if the Bears want to stay in first place in the NFC North, they will need to beat the Bill Belichick led Patriots, which seems like a daunting task.
It shouldn’t though, especially considering how the Patriots have played so far this season. If there was ever a time for the Bears to beat the Patriots it would be on Sunday. While their offense is scary, the defense is vulnerable and can be bested by the right coaches.
Andy Reid‘s offense put up 40 points on the Patriots last Sunday. In the Super Bowl Doug Pederson, a coach from the Andy Reid coaching tree devised an offensive gameplan with QB Nick Foles that scored 40 points on the Patriots’ defesnse.
Bears’ head coach, Matt Nagy, is also a member of the Andy Reid coaching tree. Does that mean the Bears should win? No, but they should at the very least score and compete against the Patriots.
Here are some things to watch on Sunday.
1st Down: Khalil Mack
Bad news: Khalil Mack tweaked his ankle on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Good news: Adam Schefter of ESPN expects Mack to suit up against the Patriots on Sunday.
The Bears ruled out any longterm issues with Mack’s ankle, so that tells us it could be something like a minor sprain. Either way, Mack will have it taped up and ready to go on Sunday. The question now becomes how effective will he be?
After hurting his ankle last Sunday, Mack was ineffective. In fact, Pro Football Focus gave Mack the lowest grade of his NFL career in the loss against the Dolphins.
In terms of overall grade, yesterday was Khalil Mack’s lowest-graded game of his career (47.8)#Dolphins tackles Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James deserve a ton of credit for their efforts against the All-Pro👀#CHIvsMIA #FinsUp
— Ryan Smith (@PFF_RyanSmith) October 15, 2018
Mack will play in his 70th straight game against the Patriots, but that means nothing if he can’t make Brady uncomfortable. Hopefully, he has some added motivation after Belichick dismissed him in the Lawrence Taylor comparisons (I agree with Belichick by the way).
With Mack being able to play, Akiem Hicks could have a monster game against his old team. I touched on that here.
— The Loop Sports (@TheLoop_Sports) October 18, 2018
2nd Down: Tarik Cohen in Space
Like most defenses in the NFL, the Patriots will have a difficult time covering and shutting down RB Tarik Cohen on Sunday. An easy way to attack the Patriots’ defense is over the middle with speed.
While their LBs are very talented pass rushers, they have issues in coverage. Opposing teams are throwing over the middle 62% of the time against Belichick’s defense. Over the last two weeks, Cohen has led the Bears in targets with 17.
Don’t expect Jordan Howard to get more usage than Cohen on Sunday. This is another spot where the Bears will get Cohen the ball, especially because WR Allen Robinson isn’t at 100% because of a groin injury.
Third Down: Marcus Cannon Will Not Play
This was big news we got late on Friday afternoon. The Patriots will be without their right tackle Marcus Cannon on Sunday.
Cannon was unable to clear concussion protocol in time to be ready to go against the Bears. LaAdrian Waddle will most likely start in his place. He came into the game after Cannon suffered the concussion against the Chiefs.
The Bears’ defensive line has a good matchup on paper against the Patriots offensive line. They also had an even better one last week and we know how that turned out. On an unrelated note, I’m still having nightmares about Brock Osweiler.
4th Down: Final Thoughts/Prediction
To me, this game will come down to a few plays like last week. Also, the effectiveness of Mack. The Patriots are coming off a huge win last week against the Chiefs, while the Bears are trying to bounce back after losing a game they should have won in regulation.
Belichick will disguise formations that will make things difficult for QB Mitch Trubisky at times.
We’re going to find out a lot about this Bears team on Sunday. Still, until they actually beat the Patriots I’m not betting against one of the greatest dynasties of All-Time.
Patriots 31 Bears 30
Season Record: 3-2