The Bears have just three days off in between Sunday's home win against the Vikings and Thursday night's meeting with the 5-4 Miami Dolphins. All things considered, this short week, and game against a team with a winning record, could not come at a better time for the Chicago Bears. The team should be riding relatively high after a standout win on Sunday, and though the Dolphins are fresh off a win against the Tennessee Titans, injuries have piled up for Miami, making things that much easier for the Bears on the road.
The Dolphins lost starting QB Chad Pennington for the season with a right shoulder injury on Sunday, and then second string QB Chad Henne with a knee injury later on during the third quarter of the same game. For Pennington, the shoulder may be a career-ender, as the battered veteran quarterback may not have another return from injury waiting under his belt.
Yesterday's practice for Miami saw three additional players sidelined with injuries. Left tackle Jake Long, center Joe Berger, and safety Chris Clemons all missed practice with a shoulder, knee, and hamstring injury respectively. However, only Pennington, and likely Henne, have been ruled out for Thursday's game. Either way, the Dolphins are unquestionably beat-up right now, and that is good news for the Bears.
The Bears are 3-1 on the road thus far in 2010-11, and will be facing third string quarterback Tyler Thigpen when the festivities get underway. I still need to see this team perform as solidly as they did against the Vikings for a few games in a row before I will truly be buying-in to this year's edition of the Bears, but with confidence rolling high and injury issues maiming the Dolphins, this appears to be an opportune time for the Bears to string together two good games in a row and get on a bit of a roll.
Likewise, the Dolphins are a frustrating 1-3 at home this year, and have been outscored by their opponents by 20 points over the course of the season. Both teams could be propelled to greater endeavors with a win on Thursday, but look for the Bears to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.
A victory over Miami in Florida would be key for the Bears. They will have beaten a winning team on the road, the perfect way to follow-up the home win against Minnesota, and can then take extra time prepping for the Philadelphia Eagles, who come to Chicago 10 days later.
Losing to Miami surely would not be a nail in the Bears' coffin, but it would be quite a buzzkill following their performance on Sunday. Maybe I am just drunk from the decisive Bears victory over Favre and all his children (soap opera pun anyone?), but don't the Bears just feel good right now? I have a feeling that they will head into Miami healthy and confident, which may be enough by itself to lead them past the Dolphins. I don't see the game being a blowout either way, but the Bears could really set themselves up nicely with another calculated and well-executed game on Thursday.
Short weeks are never easy on players in the NFL, but knowing the other team is more beat-up than you are certainly helps. The Bears could lose on Thursday; sadly that is a possibility... but I like their chances with the way the defense has played and the crippling injuries to Miami's quarterback positions.
How do you think the Dolphins would feel if they knew they were lucky enough to face Todd Collins or Caleb Hannie on Thursday? Sometimes things just get timed-out right for a team, and this week that team appears to be da Bears.