Bears-Cardinals Prediction
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

Bears-Cardinals Prediction

by - Senior Writer -

A historic rivalry will be renewed on Christmas Eve, just not the rivalry you would think as the Bears and Cardinals get ready to hit the field. No, this isn't your typical Packers/Bears, Bears/Vikings type of rivalry, but instead, it is a rivalry that dates back more than 100 years when these teams played in the same state and eventually the same city.

To honor those days, the Bears have announced that they will be going back to their 1936 uniforms to give fans a little beat of a treat heading into the Christmas holiday. They could make things even better for the fans by picking up a win, and that is their mission heading into the weekend.

After letting another big lead get away, the Bears are infuriated at how they have played down the stretch as they single-handedly cost themselves three games in the fourth quarter. Had they not done that, you're looking at a team that is 7-7 or 8-6 and right in the middle of the playoff picture.

Here are some things to look for heading into week 16.

How does the Bears respond?

Losing a game the way they did against the Cleveland Browns was not only a gut punch for the Bears, but it is also one of those games that can linger for a long time. Fortunately, unfortunately, the Bears have been involved in many of those games this season, so they have expereince with bouncing back from tough losses.

They will need to do that on Sunday, although you could make the case that most fans want this team to lose to get two of the best possible picks they can. However, with a realistic possibility that the final playoff team sneaks into the playoffs with only eight wins, the Bears have a shot at winning out, as their remaining schedule is very winnable.

That starts this week as the Bears will look to respond and send a message in the process. Far from a polished team, this Bears team is a different team that started the season and is much more equipped to handle adversity.

Put an end to the streak

This portion of the game preview is for the history buffs out there who know what I am talking about. When you talk about winning streaks, the Cardinals have a winning streak in Chicago, as they have won the past three meetings at Soldier Field and haven't lost in this building since 2003.

That means 20 years have passed since Arizona lost a game in Chicago, which is an incredible feat when you think about it. If these teams played each other twice a season or at least every other year, that feat would be even more impressive, but a 20-year streak without a loss in one building is challenging to do.

The one thing the Bears have going for them is that they are a better football team than the Cardinals, and they are playing better than Arizona is at this point. With both teams unsure of who their QB might be beyond this season, consider this a prove-it game, as will every game the rest of the way.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

As rough as things have been for the Bears defense for most of the season, it's time to give credit where credit is due, and Matt Eberflus deserves a ton of credit. Since taking over the play calling from Alan Williams after he was let go due to inappropriate activity, the Bears defense took the bumps, but have steadily improved to the point where they are a top 10 defense.

Their ability to stop the run has played a role in that, but so has the addition of Montez Sweat, as he continues to give the Bears the pass rush they lacked earlier in the season. That increased pressure has turned a once vulnerable defense into one of the better turnover-forcing defenses in the league as the Bears continue to force turnovers.

After picking off Joe Flacco three times on Sunday, the Bears are now second in the NFL with 18 interceptions this season, including 12 over the past few weeks. Throw in the fumbles and everything else with it, and the Bears have forced close to 20 turnovers since week 12, which is by far the most in the NFL.

They will look to continue that this week against a very turnover-prone quarterback in Kyler Murray. Should that happen, it will be a long day for the Cardinals and their offense as they continue to ride their defense to set the tone for the offense.

Prediction: BEAR DOWN

Can you imagine the conversations we would have had if the Bears closed things out against the Lions and Browns? This would be a playoff team had they done that with a shot at doing more. Yes, they still have a shot to make the playoffs, but it won't come easy, and this team will need help.

From a roster side, the Bears have the more talented roster, but the Cardinals have been trading away most of their talent after being playoff contenders for the better part of six seasons. This could all come down to the coaching, and with both coaches having a combined three years of experience, expect mistakes to happen on both sides. Regardless, you have to like the Bears chances to pick up their sixth win as they take down the Birds 27-20.

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