Prediction, Three things to watch during Bears-Raiders
|Friday, October 8, 2021, 4:44 PM- -|
It is week five of the 2021 NFL season, and we are almost 33% of the way through the year. Entering the week with a 2-2 mark, the Bears will hit the road again for a huge game against the Las Vegas Raiders (Sunday 3:05 PM CDT CBS). This week will mark the first time the Bears have ever played in Las Vegas so that alone is history in itself.
Coming off a Monday night loss against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders are entering this week sporting a 3-1 record and good for a three-way tie for first in the NFC West. They have been a very impressive team all season, and Jon Gruden and his bunch will be angry. Historically speaking, these teams have been locked in several tight games, which is why the Raiders lead the all-time series 8-7.
This is a very winnable game for the Bears, but they will have to play their most complete game effort of the season if they want to take down one of the more impressive teams to start the season. Here are a few things to look for heading into week five.
How will the loss of Montgomery affect this offense: Despite all the inconsistencies this offense has had, one thing has been clear, and that has been the emergence of David Montgomery. Not only has he been the best player on the offensive side of the ball, but he entered this week ranked in the top five in rushing yards as the Bears have leaned on him heavily.
However, with a knee sprain suffered against the Lions, Montgomery will now be out 4-5 weeks which is a significant blow to this team. It will take a running back by committee to replace Montgomery's production with Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert, most likely to shoulder the load the next few weeks.
Expect that to be the case until Tarik Cohen comes back as the Bears need to run the ball to win games, and hopefully, missing Montgomery won't prove to be their undoing. Chicago is entering a brutal stretch in their schedule, and it would be great to have Montgomery healthy and ready. With him out, it will be interesting to see if Bill Lazor goes with a more pass-heavy attack to compensate for the loss of Montgomery.
It is Justin Fields team now: Coming off a great week four in which Fields went 12-18, passing for 215 yards, Matt Nagy has finally given Bears fans the answer they have been waiting for in naming Fields the starter going forward. It was bound to happen at some point this season, but up until recently, Andy Dalton was still considered the starter when healthy.
Well, not anymore, as Fields is not only the starter now, but the starter for the foreseeable future as this is his team now. Given what he can do on the field with his arm and legs, he gives the Bears the best chance to win now and can make more plays than Dalton could ever dream of.
He is coming off a great week against the Lions, but he still needs to do a little bit more to take those next steps. Hopefully, the Bears continue to open the playbook for him and let him do what he does best, as this offense can be lethal when they figure it out.
Get Pressure on Derek Carr: As good as the Raiders have been this season, the offensive line hasn't been that great as the Raiders rank 25th in QB pressures and hits. You heard Joey Bosa talk about it after their win against the Raiders on Monday, and now the blueprint may be out.
The best way to beat the Raiders is for them to self-destruct, and a big way to do that is to pressure Carr early and often. The more you pressure and hit him, the more likely he will panic and eventually shut down. When you look at what Josh Jacobs did against this team two years ago and having a guy like Darren Waller at the TE position, getting Carr uncomfortable could be the biggest key for Chicago winning.
Prediction: BEAR DOWN
As history has shown us, it doesn't matter the records between these teams as they will treat fans to a great game. Out of their 15 previous contests, eight of which the Raiders have won. 10 of them have been decided by single digits, including the last four. That means that these teams go at it for a full 60 minutes, with the game often getting decided late.
I fully anticipate that being the case once again this week as both teams need a win in the worst way. Chicago needs a win on the road against a quality opponent to potentially jumpstart their season in the right direction. A win guarantees the Raiders that they will be in first place one more week, which is all you can ask for five weeks into the season. This is a big game for both teams, but I like the Bears to go out west and pick up a huge road win knocking off the Raiders 24-20.