Broncos - Bears Week 14 Preview

The Chicago Bears will visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday for a matchup that brings mixed feelings. In what was ordained at the beginning of the season to be a rude homecoming of sorts for Jay Cutler, has now been reduced to just another game between two 7-5 teams. The disgruntled former Bronco Quarterback broke his right thumb against San Diego in Week 11 and won't get to incur the wrath of the Mile High crowd he scorned. the Bears also lost the league's 3rd leading rusher Matt Forte, who suffered a knee injury in the Bears 10-3 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. That was their second straight loss after five wins in a row and with two of their top stars out of commission, the Bears are reeling. Meanwhile, the Broncos have won their last five and are peaking at the right time. After overcoming some early adversity, they find themselves leading the AFC West division and poised to make a playoff run. Take the jump with me and I will fill you in on Denver's opponent.

Weather and Conditions

The game is set for Sunday December 11th, 2:05 pm MST at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and televised by the FOX Network. Kenny Albert will call the play by play, Daryl Johnston will do the color commentary and Tony Siragusa will be reporting from the sidelines. You can also check the Regional Telecast map for the game coverage in your area.


The weather report is forecasting a decent afternoon for a football game in the Rockies for December. At post time, the forecast looks like this:

Few
Mostly Sunny
Temperature: 22/51f

For the latest up to date weather readings, visit here.


Injuries and external factors


Chicago will be without quarterback Jay Cutler, who has a broken Right Thumb. They are also without their leading rusher Matt Forte. The Bears will use a two-headed rushing attack of Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell in the meantime. Other victims to the Injured Reserve List are LB J.T. Thomas (Back), TE Kyle Adams (Hamstring), G Chris Williams (Dislocated Wrist), DB Anthony Walters (Hamstring), Rookie OT Gabe Carimi (Knee) and LS Patrick Mannelly (ACL)

OFFENSE


This chart represents the Rankings for the Bears Offense as compared to the Broncos Defense. I have also included last week's rankings for the Broncos so you can see progress or regress. The DVOA stat is taken from Football Outsiders and is explained here.

Bears Broncos
Offense Rank Category Rank Defense
24.3 7th Points For 24th 24.3
325.8 19th Total Yds 24th 366.4
206.4 22nd Pass Yds 23rd 245.2
119.4 12th Rush Yds 20th 121.3
34 7th Most Sacks T-5th 33
N/A N/A Forced Fumbles T-14th 10
13 T-20th Least Interceptions T-23rd 9
32.70% 27th 3rd Downs 12th 36%
25th -8.30% Overall DVOA 17th 5.60%
7 5th Turnover Margin T-21st -3
62 7th Most QB Hits Allowed N/A N/A

With Jay Cutler's injury, Caleb Hanie (29/60, 387 yds, 48.3%, 2 TDs, 6 INT, 40.8 QBR) has been named as the starting Quarterback for the Bears. Behind him are Josh McCown and Rookie Nathan Enderle.

At Running Back, Marion Barber (76 carries, 281 yds, a 3.7 avg, 5 TDs and 3 Rec, 18 yds) will be counted on to pick up the slack in Matt Forte's absence. Kahlil Bell (15 car, 57 yds, 3.8 avg.) is the next option available. Bell figures to see more action now, with Matt Forte recovering from a sprained knee. He had 34 yards on four carries, including a 26-yard run last week.The Fullback is Tyler Clutts (7 catches, 46 yds).

The starting Wide Receivers for the Bears are, Roy Williams (24 Rec, 335 yds, 1 TD) and Earl Bennett (19 Rec, 281 yds, 1 TD). Johnny Knox (33 Rec, 675 yds, 20.5 avg, 2 TDs) is the 3rd man up. Devin Hester (25 Rec, 355 yds, 14.2 avg, 1 TD), CFA signee Dane Sanzenbacher (19 Rec, 172 yds, 9.1 avg, 3 TDs) and Sam Hurd (8 Rec, 109 yds, 13.6 avg.) fill out the Unit. Knox had a season-high five catches for 53 yards last week and Devin Hester finally got back involved in the Offense with 3 catches for 35 yards. In the last month he's only had one 12-yard catch.


Tight End Kellen Davis (14 Rec, 175 yds, 4 TDs) had two catches for a career-high 40 yards against the Chiefs. His 28-yard reception was the Bears' longest play of the day. Matt Spaeth (7 Rec, 50 yds, 2 TDs) and Andre Smith are the backups.

The Offensive Line for Chicago is made up of LT J'Marcus Webb (10 Penalties, including 7 False Starts, 2 Holds, 8 SK Allowed) , LG Edwin Williams (1 FS), C Roberto Garza (2 Penalties, 1 Hold, 1 SA), RG Chris Spencer (2 FS, 1 HLD, 0.5 SA) and RT Lance Louis (1 FS, 5.5 SA). The backups are Frank Omiyale (6 HS, 4 SA), Levi Horn and Rookie Ricky Henry, who was recently promoted from the Practice Squad. The Bears lost LG Chris Williams to a season-ending left wrist injury against Detroit in Week 10. Edwin Williams has taken his place

DEFENSE

This chart represents the Rankings for the Bears Defense as compared to the Broncos Offense.

Bears Broncos
Defense Rank Category Rank Offense
20.2 9th Points Against 20th 21.3
359.3 20th Total Yds 25th 314.8
259.5 28th Pass Yds 31st 155.8
99.8 8th Rush Yds 1st 158.9
24 T-20th Sacks 16th Most 27
10 T-14th Forced Fumbles N/A N/A
16 T-5th Interceptions T-5th Least 8
35.50% 11th 3rd Downs 28th 32.10%
-10.60% 4th Overall DVOA 23rd -2.90%
81/638 12th Most Penalties 14th Most 77/668
N/A N/A QB Hits Allowed 25th Most 48

The Bears run a true 4-3 Base scheme. The starters along the Defensive Line are LDE Israel Idonije (38 TKL, 4 SK, 1 FF), LDT Henry Melton (17 TKL, 6 SK), RDT Matt Toeaina (9 TKL), RDE Julius Peppers (31 TJK, 4 PD, 8 SK, 1 FF). Amobi Okoye (20 TKL, 4 SK, 1 PD), Anthony Adams (12 TKL), Rookie Stephen Paea (7 TKL, 1 SK, 1 SAF), Chauncey Davis (4 TKL) and Corey Wootton (2 TKL) are the reserves.

LOLB Nick Roach (30 TKL, 4 PD), MLB Brian Urlacher (72 TKL, 7 PD, 3 INT) and ROLB Lance Briggs (84 TKL, 4 PD, 1 INT, 2 FF) are the heart of the Bears Defense. Dom DeCicco (12 TKL), Patrick Trahan (1 TKL) and Jabara Williams are their backups.

The Cornerbacks are Tim Jennings (64 TKL, 9 PD, 1 INT, 1 FF) on the left side and RCB Charles Tillman (80 TKL, 3 FF, 10 PD, 1 INT, 1 TD) on the right. D.J. Moore (37 TKL, 6 PD, 3 INT, 1 TD), Corey Graham (10 TKL, 1 FF, 3 PD, 3 INT) and Zackary Bowman (6 TKL) fill out the rest of this unit.

The Strong Safety is Major Wright (42 TKL, 5 PD, 3 INTs, 1 TD) and Craig Steltz (30 TKL, 1 FF) is his back up. The Free Safety is Rookie Chris Conte (26 TKL, 2 PD, 1 INT). Brandon Meriweather (26 TKL, 2 PD) and Winston Venable (5 TKL) are the backups.

SPECIAL TEAMS


This chart represents the Rankings for both teams Special Teams Units.

Bears Rank Special Teams Rank Broncos
43 26th Punt-Avg(Gross) 6th 47.9
40.8 11th Punt-Avg (Net) 3rd 43.2
18.1 1st Punt Ret-Avg 3rd 14.5
3.3 1st PR-Avg Allowed 14th 9
22.7 23rd Kick Ret-Avg 3rd 27.8
24.1 18th KR-Avg Allowed 10th 22.8
24/27 8th FG Made/Att 31st 15/20
10.30% 1st Overall DVOA 5th 3.20%

The Kicker for the Bears is Robbie Gould. He is 24 for 27 (88.9%) on Field Goal Attempts with a long of 53, which is one yard shy of his career long. Robbie is 31/31 on Extra Points. His Kickoffs land around the 5 yard line and 34 of his 66 Kickoffs (51.5%) have gone for touchbacks and 30 have been returned for a 24.6 average.

The Punter and Holder is Adam Podlesh, who has punted 63 times for a gross average of 43.0 and a net of 40.8 yards. 11 have been downed, 15 have landed Inside the 20 and 18 have been Fair Caught. 30 have been returned an average of 3.3 yards.

The Long Snapping Specialist is Chris Massey, who was signed two weeks ago to replace Patrick Mannelly who went on IR. Massey is a 10-year veteran who spent the last 9 seasons with the St. Louis Rams where he played in 135 games. He has made 361 consecutive clean snaps and has 19 career Special Teams Tackles and one Fumble Recovery. Chris made the Pro Bowl in 2003.


The Return men are Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. Hester has returned 22 Punts for an 18.5 average and 2 Touchdowns. His longest this year was 82 yards. Devin also has 24 Kick returns for a 22.6 average, including a 98 yard Touchdown. Knox has one 9 yard punt return and 14 Kick returns for an average of 26.7 yards and a Long of 56.

SERIES HISTORY


This is the 14th regular season meeting between these two teams. The Bears lead the series 7-6. The record in the Mile High City is 4-3. The last contest took place at Soldier Field and the Bears won 37-34 in OT (2007). the last meeting in Denver was 2003, with the Bears winning 19-10. You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find the most recent Bronco Home victory, a 17-12 win on November 10th courtesy of John Elway, Shannon Sharpe and Terrell Davis.

The Wise Guys in Vegas have the Broncos favored by 3.5 points


THE BOTTOM LINE


I think this will be another tough matchup for Denver. They can win this one, but the Bears have a better Defense than the last four Bronco opponents and have a healthy secondary. Not having Jay Cutler and Matt Forte will make a difference in the outcome though. Chicago's O-Line has given up quite a few Sacks and allowed a ton of hits on their Quarterbacks. Young Caleb Hanie will get regular visits from Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller and as long as Britton Colquitt and Matt Prater do not kick the ball to Devin Hester, everything will work out fine.


Go Broncos!


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