The Chicago Bears will face the Houston Texans at home for their Week 14 matchup. The Bears are on a miserable six game losing streak, and will hope to turn the tide against the 4-8 Texans. Here are 3 Bears keys to the game for Week 14.
Run the football
Last week, against the Detroit Lions, Chicago ran the ball very effectively. They had 140 rushing yards on 31 carries with three rushing touchdowns. Their usage of the running game was a large reason why their offense was able to score 30 points.
In the end, their downfall was partially due to stopping to hand the ball off. In the last few drives, when they should have been running the clock out, they decided to call more pass plays than run plays. With Chicago up by three points, the Lions got the ball inside the Bears 10 yard line after a strip sack on 3rd down. If Chicago ran the ball instead of throwing it, this would not have happened.
There was growth in Chicago’s dedication to running the football in Week 13. However, Chicago will need to take it a step further and continue to focus on the ground game against the Texans.
The Bears should be successful if they do decide to commit to the rushing game, as the Texans are a bad defense, particularly against the run. They have allowed the second most rushing yards, fifth most rushing touchdowns and the second most yards per carry.
To beat the Texans, the Bears will need to continue running the football successfully.
Blitz the quarterback
Over the past few weeks, the Bears pass rush has been virtually non-existent. In their past three games, they only have three sacks and eight quarterback hits. They must turn this around against the Texans.
These terrible statistics are largely because of defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s play calling. He rarely blitzes, as Chicago ranks 29th in blitzes per drop back. The Bears defense that was once stellar at hitting the quarterback can no longer do so, due to Pagano’s unwillingness to blitz. This must change against the Texans.
Theoretically, it should not be difficult for the Bears stars to get to the quarterback. Houston’s offensive line is not good by any means. They have allowed the sixth most sacks and the second most hurries. It is just a question of whether or not Pagano calls blitz plays.
Another factor in this matchup is Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The superstar is known for his agility and mobility, and can be very difficult to bring down. This means that the Bears must be disciplined as well as quick in getting to the quarterback.
The Bears recent struggles on defense are largely due to their inability to pressure the quarterback. If they call more blitzes against Houston and are able to disrupt Watson, Chicago’s defense should be much more successful.
Key on Brandin Cooks
Three of the four top Texans wide receivers at the start of the year will not be playing against the Bears. Randall Cobb is injured with a toe injury, Will Fuller was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs, and Kenny Stills was dropped. This leaves Brandin Cooks.
The veteran speedy wide receiver has had a solid year so far. He has 57 receptions on 86 targets, 784 yards and three touchdowns. He has a clear connection with quarterback Deshaun Watson and is a true threat.
After Cooks, there is a big drop off on the Texans roster. Their next wide receiver after Cooks, Keke Coutee, only has 179 yards on 14 receptions. He is average, and much less of a threat than Cooks.
Therefore, by stopping Brandin Cooks, the Texans will be forced to throw to other, less skilled targets. This will make it easier for the Bears defense to stop Houston’s passing game.
After six straight losses, it is difficult to predict a Bears win. The Texans, although only 4-8, have had a lot of close games as of late and have played tough teams. The recent track record for the two teams will continue, and the Texans will beat the Bears in another disappointing defensive performance.
Texans 27 – Bears 24
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