Bears-Cardinals Week 3 predictions
The PFW Chicago staff shares its predictions for Bears-Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on Sunday:
Hub Arkush: Bears 23, Cardinals 13
Thanks to the Aaron Rodgers freak show in the second half of Week 1 and two late touchdowns from Russell Wilson, the stats don’t tell the whole story right now of just how good the Bears defense is, and how much better it can be, but it is already very good.
On the other hand, albeit with a small sample size of just the first two weeks of the season, the Arizona Cardinals have the worst offense in the NFL — 32nd in total yards, time of possession and points scored — and they are just 31st in average gain per offensive play.
So while the Bears have certainly struggled to make big plays and finish drives on offense, the Cardinals are one of the league’s worst on defense, too — 30th in total defense, 28th vs. the run, 27th vs. the pass and 25th in points scored.
The Cards were shutout, 34-0, by one of the NFL’s elite teams in the Los Angeles Rams. But Arizona’s opening-day home loss to Washington, 24-6, also doesn’t strike fear in anyone, and it’s an outcome these new-and-improved Bears have an excellent chance to replicate.
Arizona could be an easier test than Seattle, and the Bears passed that one with flying colors.
Bob LeGere: Bears 21, Cardinals 13
Based on the first two weeks, which is admittedly a small sample, it would be easy to imagine the Bears’ resurgent defense with OLB Khalil Mack as the ringleader, shutting out the Cardinals, who have been abysmal offensively.
The Cards have just 350 total yards in two games and have been outscored 58-6. Not even the versatile and productive RB David Johnson has been able to get on track for Arizona, either as a runner or receiver. It’s also possible that future Hall of Fame WR Larry Fitzgerald could be hindered by a hamstring injury that knocked him out of the embarrassing 34-0 Week Two loss to the Rams. QB Sam Bradford threw for just 90 yards last week, and the Cardinals had just 137 yards and five first downs.
In this matchup of first-year head coaches, Matt Nagy has the much more competitive team, although his offense has much room for improvement. But the Bears’ defense has scored a touchdown on a pick-6 in each of the first two games, and it has 10 sacks by eight different players. The first start by rookie ILB Roquan Smith last week added another weapon to what looks to be a formidable defense.
Arthur Arkush: Bears 24, Cardinals 13
The Bears’ defense flies all over the field but won’t have to respect all of it against a grounded Cardinals offense averaging 3.72 yards per play and coaxing very little from its only two playmakers, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
The way the Bears have harassed Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, it would stun exactly no one if Cardinals top pick Josh Rosen were to replace Sam Bradford — because of injury or ineffectiveness — at some point Sunday.
It also won’t be all that surprising when Mitch Trubisky plays his best game so far this season, as Arizona’s ‘D’ has spent more time on the field than any, consistently surrendering big plays on the ground and through the air. Trubisky would be wise to steer clear of the Allen Robinson-Patrick Peterson matchup whenever possible, instead focusing on Trey Burton and Anthony Miller, with slot receivers and tight ends both faring well against a susceptible middle of the Cardinals ‘D.’
The Bears’ quest for a full 60 minutes of playing to their potential ends Sunday in a rout and Chicago getting over .500 for the first time since Week 3 of the 2014 season.
Eric Edholm: Bears 24, Cardinals 10
The Bears’ defense is peaking at a time when the Cardinals’ offense is scuttling. Who knows what their short-term plan is at quarterback, with Sam Bradford underwhelming and first-rounder Josh Rosen awaiting his chance? But even with a switch, and even if they find more creative ways to unlock RB David Johnson, we can’t see Arizona putting up too much production against this Bears defense right now.
This also is a good chance for Mitch Trubisky and the passing game to gain some confidence, but be warned: This Cardinals’ defense is good. Considering all the bad situations the offense has put it in, we can’t fully blame this defense that has some true difference makers. But we also have taken notice of six second-quarter possessions in which Washington and the L.A. Rams have gutted them for five TDs and a field goal.
Time for the Bears to string back-to-back drives and put forth a more consistent offensive game. And as has happened the first two games — prediction alert — the defense will provide another touchdown. We’ll go out on a limb and say rookie LB Roquan Smith will be involved.