Position-by-Position Breakdown for Bears vs. Ravens
|Saturday, November 20, 2021, 9:32 AM- -|
The 3-6 Bears welcome the 6-3 Baltimore Ravens into Chicago for this week 11 matchup. The Ravens have been one of the most impressive teams in the NFL this season, while the Bears have dropped four straight games.
Let's dive in and see where the Bears may have an advantage:
Justin Fields had his best day as a pro week 9 against a very good Steelers defense, passing for 291 yards and a touchdown. He led the Bears down the field for what would have been a game-winning touchdown drive before the Steelers made the game-winning field goal. Although it was tough seeing the Bears lose the way they did, it was great seeing Fields perform so well at the end of the game situation on the road in primetime against a top-tier defense. Already confident, he gained even more, and hopefully, this can be built off of.
The Ravens line up the ultra-athletic Lamar Jackson under center. Jackson has passed for 2447 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 639 yards and two touchdowns through the first nine games. He is as dynamic as they come both through the air and on the ground. The Dolphins had success in slowing Jackson down last week by bringing pressure and forcing him to make quick decisions, and I expect the Bears to do the same. They will have to be careful because if a defense brings pressure and lets Jackson get out of the pocket, it will be a long day for the Bears.
The Ravens have had terrible injury luck this year, and the position impacted by this the most has been the running backs. Their top two RBs, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman, were not even on the roster until days before their week one game. They both have been effective, with Freeman getting the majority of passing down work, but their best and number one rushing option is their quarterback. David Montgomery returned from injury against the Steelers and ran for 63 yards. Montgomery will be the best running back in this game by a wide margin.
Allen Robinson will not be playing for the Bears this week, which is a significant loss. Darnell Mooney has been the number one receiver this year, but will formally take on that designation this week with Robinson out. Marquise Goodwin and Jakeem Grant will likely get some more playing time this week, but I expect the majority of the available targets to go to Mooney. Goodwin will be used to stretch the field, and Grant likely in the screen game. The Ravens are lead at WR by speedster Marquise Brown, but Devin Duvernay has been very involved the past few weeks and they also have their first round pick Rashad Bateman in mix after missing the beginning of the season to injury. Allen Robinson being our makes this a pretty clear advantage for the Ravens.
Cole Kmet was finally a main piece of the offensive gameplan for the Bears against the Steelers with 6 catches and 87 yards. I personally have been wanting this for a while and I do not think it is a coincidence that Justin Field’s best game of his career came with Kmet’s best game of the year. He will need to continue this production this week with Allen Robinson being out and be the safety net for his quarterback. Jimmy Graham likely will get a little more playing time than he has in previous weeks to help in the passing game. The Ravens number one tight end, Mark Andrews, is one of better offensive players at his position in the league. Andrews is his quarterback’s favorite target ranking second on the team in both catches and yards.
The Bears offensive played pretty well against a very good Steelers' front seven. A Tevin Jenkins return appears to be on the horizon, but he will not be suiting up this week. Larry Borom stepping in at right tackle has been a big help thus far for the offense. The Ravens lost their best lineman, and starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley earlier this year to injury, but even with this loss, the Ravens suit up a solid unit overall. After leaving Pittsburgh, Andrew Villanueva was signed as a free agent and has stepped right into the vacant left tackle position. The Ravens are a run-heavy team, and their line allows them to do this very effectively.
Akiem Hicks is out again this week, meaning Mario Edwards Jr will get more playing time again. Hicks is always a big piece to lose, especially with the injuries the Bears have at linebacker. Calais Campbell is a monster on the defensive line for the Ravens, but they are pretty thin outside of him upfront. With Hicks, I think the Bears would get the nod, but with him out, I give the slight advantage to the Ravens.
It is now official: Khalil Mack is out for the year. This is a obviously a huge blow because Mack was very productive rushing the passer this year and every team they played has to gameplan for him, giving opportunities for teammates to have better matchups. The positive news is that the Bears still have the league’s fourth leading tackler in Roquan Smith, and Robert Quinn has been very good in his own right rushing the passer this year. The Bears did sign veteran Bruce Irvin, who should get playing time right away. The Ravens best linebackers are second year player Patrick Queen and eleventh year veteran Justin Houston. Queen makes his impact in stopping the run and pass coverage, while Houston plays more of the Robert Quinn role of being mainly a pass rusher. Even without Mack, the edge her goes to the Bears.
The Chicago secondary has had a few shaky weeks in a row and is just not forcing turnovers. This Bears team is in desperate need of turnovers but ranks near the bottom of the league in total turnovers forced (9) and interceptions (4). Eddie Jackson looks like he will return this week and he better be ready to step up and make some tackles because Lamar Jackson will be running the ball a lot. The Ravens have one of the better corners in the league with Marlon Humphrey. I expect him to match up with Darnell Mooney a lot and try to force Fields to throw somewhere else.
Kicker Cairo Santos may have missed his first field goal of the year against the Steelers, but it was not at all his fault. Matt Nagy should know how strong his kicker’s leg is and never should have sent him out for 65-yard attempt at a notoriously hard place to kick in Pittsburgh. Regardless, the Ravens have probably the best kicker in NFL history in Justin Tucker and he is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.