Arkush: Do Bears have enough left to challenge NFL's top team?
Contrary to what people may think, the Bears and the Cardinals hold the NFL's oldest rivalry, dating back to 1920. Of course they both played in Chicago from 1921-1959, and they are the only two remaining NFL charter franchises.
The Bears and Packers have met more often than any other two NFL teams (as Packers joined the NFL in 1921), and Bears and Lions is the longest continuous rivalry with the two having met every season since 1930.
Ironically while the Bears are one of the league's most storied and successful franchises and the Cardinals are in the race for most dysfunctional, Arizona enters this game as the NFL's best team at. Meanwhile the Bears are struggling near the bottom of the standings.
The Bears are 7½ point underdogs, and the over/under is 44½
Matchups to watch
Bears ground game vs. Arizona run defense
The Bears are No. 1 in the league rushing the passer and Arizona is third, but the Cardinals are 21st in QB sacks allowed and the Bears are 32nd.
With Andy Dalton at QB, the ball will come out quicker but he's also less likely than Justin Fields to keep plays alive if they break down quickly.
The Bears will not compete here without a big day from their eighth-ranked rushing game and Arizona is 17th defending the run and 30th in average gain per rush allowed.
How to handle Kyler Murray
Murray is one of the league's top two double threats along with Lamar Jackson. The goal with Jackson is to keep him in the pocket. With Murray, are you better off making him move when you consider his 110.4 passer rating, the Cardinals are best in the league at average gain per pass play and he has been consciously running less this year with just 49 rushes for a 3.0 average?
Pick your poison.
Players to watch
Murray, James Conner, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Chandler Jones and Isaiah Simmons
Hopkins and Green speak for themselves, and along with Kirk they are the top wideout trio in the league.
Conner is the workhorse on the ground and has 12 TDs, but just a 3.8 yards per carry average.
Jones is one of the best edge rushers in the league but had a nasty battle with COVID that sat him down for three weeks and he's been slow to bounce back. Simmons at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds is one of the best athletes in the league and can make plays all over the field from his linebacker spot.
Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz and linebacker Marcus Golden; Bears injuries
After losing starting tight end Maxx Williams for the season the Cards moved quickly to trade for Pro Bowler Zach Ertz and he has not disappointed, although he and Murray are still developing chemistry with Murray out quite a bit since Ertz arrived.
Golden in his second go-round with the Cards at 30 is having his best season as a pro leading the team with 10 QB sacks and 8 tackles for loss.
Injuries are no excuse, but the Bears list speaks for itself.
Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds and wide receiver Rondale Moore; Bears tight ends Jimmy Graham and Jesse James
Edmonds is the Cards No. 2 running back, the third down choice with 30 catches for a 7.0 average and on the ground he has a 5.7 average.
Moore is the rookie out of Purdue drafted to be an explosion waiting to happen out of the slot. He has one 77-yard catch among his 47 receptions, just two fewer than team leader Christian Kirk, but only an 8.8 average to date.
With Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin out, if Graham and James don't step up what chance do the Bears have?
Cardinals are fifth in points scored (28.2), 4th in points allowed (18.4)
Bears are 18th in points allowed (23.1), 29th in points scored (16.3)
The final word
Cardinals 30, Bears 19
To win the Bears have to rush for at least 175 yards, own the clock, win the QB sack battle, win the turnover battle and avoid all dumb penalties.
With many of their best players limited or missing, how do they get that done?