The Chicago Bears must use the run game to control the flow to make Vegas one dimensional
Clock management will be a huge factor in the outcome of this game. In fact, there are two things the Chicago Bears need to accomplish if they want to win this game. First, if they win the toss, they must defer to the second half. Put the ball in Derek Carr’s hands immediately.
The importance of this is two-fold. 1) The Bears need to impose their will on the Raiders’ offensive line as quickly as possible – they cannot let them establish a rhythm. 2) Derek Carr has been borderline abysmal in the first quarter of games this season. In the 1st quarter of games this season, Derek Carr has a passer rating of 50.7, a completion percentage of 47.1, zero touchdowns, and one interception.
The second big objective is to rely on the run game heavily to control the clock. The Chicago Bears need to find a way to dominate on the ground despite the loss of David Montgomery from the rushing attack. Their compensation for Montgomery should also include the utilization of Justin Fields’ legs. The Raiders’ 23rd ranked rushing defense will also make accomplishing this task a much simpler feat.
The importance of an established running game will be especially important in the second half because the Bears will need long putaway drives. Derek Carr and the Raiders have been nothing short of sensational coming out after halftime and executing their plan. In the third quarter this season, Carr has a passer rating of 138.4, a completion percentage of 82.1, four touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The longer the Bears keep the ball out of his hands in the second half, the more they’ll nullify the Raiders’ halftime adjustments only making life more difficult for the Raiders’ offense and easier on the Bears defense.
It will also be crucial for the Bears to play with a lead in this game because I believe the Raiders will be quick to abandon the running game if they’re facing a deficit. The Chicago Bears defensive line in this game is talented enough to handle the Raiders trio of running backs.
This is because the Raider’s backs are physical bruisers who run in between the tackles. The Bears won’t need to worry a lot about the outside zone or screens with this group. Additionally, read-option is probably off the table given Carr’s limited mobility.
If Chicago can get a lead quickly, I feel confident that the Raiders will be quick to put the ball in Carr’s hands as they get frustrated with the lack of production from their running backs, making life easier for Sean Desai as he can let his defense pin their ears back and attack.
While the Bears do have a clear path to victory, the Raiders are 3-1 for a reason and have to be respected. They’ve been excellent at controlling game flow themselves despite the absence of a rushing attack. We can’t ignore their receiving threats too like Waller and Ruggs which could even open some running lanes underneath given the right situation. Additionally, there’s the added element of experience that Derek Carr has in excess over Justin Fields.
On paper, the Bears definitely have the ability to control the flow of this game but so far this season, the Raiders have proven their ability to obtain and maintain control more often and more consistently, even against high-quality opponents better than the Bears.
Advantage: Las Vegas Raiders (by a hair)