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Monday, April 22

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Bears Fri Nov 06 2009

Footballic Ramblings: The Red Birds Come A Callin'

Are you a scarecrow? Do you like to play with fire? Then by all means, please, take the Bears as three point favorites to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Of course, to expect that to pan out is to forget a) Vegas oddsmakers know people are suckers and b) the Bears defense is still "beary, beary bad." Yes, the Bears held Cleveland to six points and forced five turnovers but let's also remember that Cleveland is a terrible team and mired in utter disrepair; and that prior to the battering they dispensed to the Browns, the Bears defense had been roundly abused by the capable offense of Cincinnati. Which brings us to this Sunday. Hey, the Bears are facing another capable offense in the Arizona Cardinals with, arguably, an even better defense than the Bengals, so let's cut to the chase and say, "No, the Bears won't be winning this game."

Granted, Chicago's good for at least one win per year against a much better team (see, the Week One win last year against Indianapolis) but that win already happened this season, Week Two against the Steelers.

So what can expect on Sunday?

When 'Zona Has the Ball

Strong-armed, God-fearin', Goblin-lovin' quarterback for the Cardinals will be scanning the horizon for half-man, half-machine, all-awesome, Larry Fitzgerald for the deep bomb against the, as always, flammable Bears secondary. Fitty's tandem partner Anquan Boldin is a game-time decision for the coaching staff, but if he does manage to play it's going to be a very long day for the Bears secondary. Boldin and Fitzgerald both pack breakaway speed and hulking size that typically overmatches opposing safeties and backfields. The Cardinals have only given up 14 sacks all season, but when they do give 'em up, it hurts. The Red Birds are losing slightly more than 7 yards per sack. Which is great news for the Bears defensive line. If the d-line can be disruptive and afford the linebackers the chance to pressure Kurt Warner than maybe, just maybe, the Bears can slow down the passing game. Various blitz and stunt packages have always been effective against "Ol' Man Warner" and his hobbling hips and knees aren't getting any younger so the Bears should exploit this weakness in the machine-like Cards O.

When Chicago Has the Ball

The Cardinals defense is ranked 8th against the run in the NFL and 13th in total defense so don't expect too much to come too easily for the Bears, particularly Matt Forte and/or Garret Wolfe. I fully expect to see a game plan very similar to the one employed against Pittsburgh in Week Two, wherein OC Ron Turner had Cutler passing throughout the entire game and the rushing attack was hardly even an afterthought. Considering the utter shambles that the offensive line is in, short passes and screen passes to the running backs could be the most effective way to get either Forte or Wolfe the ball anyway. Not making matters any easier for the offense is the fact that speedster, Devin Hester will likely be sitting this game out. He's not practiced all week and he sprained his ankle pretty badly against the Browns. Officially he's still listed as "questionable" on the injury report, but speed is Hester's game and he won't be effective if he's gimpy. ****UPDATE**** Hester is good to go for Sunday. h/t Trib.
It's been a trying few weeks for Jay-Bot 5000 as he's thrown more picks than TDs recently and that trend could continue against the edge-rushing Cardinals defense. Cutler has had to "cope" with a rapidly disintegrating offensive line all season long and it's definitely made an impact on his "decision-making," ie: Throwing the ball away and getting hit makes waaay more sense than holding onto the ball and still getting hit.

The fun kicks off at 12:00 and will be broadcast in FOX HD, so be sure to wear sunglasses just in case there's a cut to Terry Bradshaw's shiny, bald dome in the studios. More football on tv scheduling fun at the 506!

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