Lost amidst the storylines surrounding Peyton Manning resting and Brock Osweiler starting is an interesting fact related to a previous Denver Broncos quarterback: this will actually be Jay Cutler's first start against the team that drafted him, the Denver Broncos, in the regular season.
It's a bit shocking - it's been over six years, after all, since then-Broncos coach Josh McDaniels traded Cutler to the Bears. But in that time, the Broncos and Bears played only once (2011), and Cutler was injured. This 2015 meetup nearly didn't happen as well: Cutler has been embattled as starting quarterback the past several seasons. But offensive coordinator Adam Gase - coincidentally, another former Bronco - has done a terrific job with Cutler in 2015, helping him complete 70% of his passes in the month of November with seven touchdowns and just one interception.
"I think they've done a great job with him this year," Wade Phillips said of the Bears and their quarterback. "He seems to have his confidence. He knows where he's going with the football and he's always been a good at scrambling around to throw it and find people are open in coverage. It's going to be a real challenge for our pass defense."
Meanwhile, the Broncos will be starting an unknown at quarterback in Brock Osweiler. Osweiler will start against his old coaches, John Fox (who drafted him) and Gase (who served as either quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator for Osweiler's entire NFL career up to the 2015 season). Osweiler dismissed the notion that Gase could use his experience with Osweiler to the Bears' advantage.
"I'm sure that he knows a few things," Osweiler said. "How many secrets and things like that—shoot I don't even know what I have. I hope he doesn't look too hard into that and try to do a crystal ball thing over there, but at the end of the day, it's just a football game. Eleven guys are going to line up against 11 guys and we have to go play ball. I'm not going to really buy into the what ifs, 'What could they possibly do? What has Coach Gase told the defensive staff?' I'm not going to buy into that. I'm just going to go out there, believe in what I see and go play football."
Kickoff is set for Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Mile High time (that's 12:00 p.m. local Central time).
TV schedule and TV channels
The game will air on CBS (KCNC-TV in Denver), and if you're in the RED, you're getting the Broncos game this weekend on CBS in your area (sorry half the country).
Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (color analyst), and Evan Washburn (sideline) will call the game.
Scouting the Enemy: Chicago Bears
MHR writer Christopher Hart takes a stroll down memory lane reminiscing on the last time the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears faced off, as well as providing analysis on this weekends battle.
NFL Game Pass offers live audio and re-airs after the game.
DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket has expanded its online streaming service. Verizon subscribers can watch games live with the NFL Mobile app (subscription required, and usual TV blackout rules apply even online).
Colorado can listen on KOA (850 AM) or The Fox (133.5 FM) with Dave Logan (play-by-play), Ed McCaffrey (color analyst) and Andy Lindahl (sideline reporting).
Peyton Manning (foot, ribs, shoulder) and DeMarcus Ware (back) are both out and won't travel for the game. Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Smith, and Vance Walker will each be game-time decisions. For the Bears, running back Matt Forte is questionable.
"I really haven't changed anything," Osweiler said of his preparation for his first start this week. "I'm doing the same preparation going back to what I do on Monday nights, what I do on Tuesdays during the day and what I do Tuesdays during the evening. I've prepared for this moment, obviously, for a very long time. Like I told you guys before, I never wasted a single day. I'm just going to stick to the preparation that got me to this point and I'll be ready to do on Sunday."
The 4-5 Bears are favored by a point or two at home against the 7-2 Broncos.