Against the Offense
Against the Raiders offense, it all starts with stopping the running game. Darren McFadden was on a tear before he went down to a hamstring injury, but Michael Bush has picked up where McFadden left off. For the year; Bush has 599 rush yards, 5 touchdowns, off 139 carries. He’s a powerful runner with decent speed and that allows him to pick up big chunks of yards on the ground. To stop Bush it starts for the Bears front 4 dominating the trenches against the Raiders O-Line. The Raiders O-Line are a big physical bunch that specialize in power blocking rather than zone, so the interior defensive line can’t get swallowed up by the Raiders interior O-Line and allow them to make blocks on the LB’s.
The Bears will have a great chance of winning this game if they can shut down the run and put it on Carson Palmer and a young WR group to win the game for them. If the Bears are able to make the Raiders offense one dimensional, it makes their passing attack not that much of a threat. The Raiders WR’s are a talented bunch with a lot of speed on the outside.
The Bears get a little boost with WR's Jacoby Ford expected to miss the game with a foot injury, and Darius Heyward-Bey might also be out with a neck injury, so guys like Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens will likely play a bigger role in the offense this Sunday. The Bears likely are going to stick to the formula they been using since the Philly game, which is a lot of cover-1 masked in a cover-2 shell. The Bears have done a great job over the past 3 weeks confusing defenses after the snap. Against such a young WR group, with a veteran QB that doesn’t have much experience with these young WR’s; the Bears secondary should be able to control their passing attack.
Great secondary play should be able to help the pass rush from the D-Line, as it will leave a statue QB in Palmer to hold the ball a second or two later than should.
Against the Defense
Pass protection will need to bring it up a notch going into this game and moving forward now that they don’t have Cutler’s arm back to bail them out at times. The Raiders are going to blitz Caleb Hanie in hopes of rattling the veteran QB that’s seeing his first start in his NFL career. Kamerion Wimbley and Richard Seymour are the team’s best pass rushers, but the Raiders use various blitzes if not get to the QB then force him into a mistake.
The secondary is young but very opportunistic; they will take chances throughout the game so double moves from the wide outs can take advantage of that. Working the middle of the field will be tough against an Oakland Raiders back 7 that have great athletes at LB (Rolando McClain and Aaron Curry). Roy Williams and Earl Bennett have been doing a pretty good job the past weeks exploiting that area of the field especially on 3rd downs. Hanie will need to be careful with the ball by not trying to squeeze it in tight windows. He’s an accurate passer in the short to intermediate range so throws to Williams and Bennett should be his bread and butter all game.
Hanie has a strong enough arm to test the Raiders safeties vertically down field, so if the shots are there I expect him to take them to keep the defense honest. The screen pass should be a weapon that Martz utilize against a blitz attacking defense like the Raiders.
Not only has Forte been quiet the past two weeks in the run game, but also as a receiver. Some screen passes and getting Forte the ball in open space should be the best recipe against a defense that most likely will be scheming to get to Hanie. The key match-up to watch is J’Marcus Webb vs. Wimbley. Wimbley is probably the best speed rusher that Webb is going to face all year, but Webb has proven he can hold his own against some of the league’s best.
The ground game is in a slump now that opposing defenses are stacking the box with an 8th man. The Bears are going to have to lean on Matt Forte and Marion Barber against one of the more talented front 7’s in the league. If Forte and Barber can get going on the ground, the play action will be a huge weapon at Martz disposal.