Oct 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) reacts after a touchdown during the second half at Soldier Field. Miami Dolphins defeat the Chicago Bears 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Despite recent injury shake-ups and Darrelle Revis’ “late-gate”, the New England Patriots will suit up this Sunday to take on the Chicago Bears, as they begin one of the toughest six-game stretches in the Tom Brady-era.
The Pats are lucky they are going to ease into this stretch against a team like Chicago, because even without Chandler Jones, I believe New England can win this game. They have the offensive talent to exploit a weak Bears’ secondary, and their depleted defense should be able to give Brady enough support to squeak out a victory.
As always, there are a number of key players that we should keep an eye on for this contest, so in my opinion, here are the four biggest players we must watch on Sunday afternoon:
1. Matt Forte
How well the Patriots contain Matt Forte will decide the outcome of this game. If Forte is at least slowed down, the Pats will win. However if Forte goes off on the weak New England run defense, we will be in for one tough game.
What makes Forte so special is his ability to make an impact not only in the running game, but also in the passing attack. He currently leads the NFL in receptions with 52, and while he doesn’t average a ton of yards with each reception, his presence as a check-down, and as a threat to linebackers makes this Chicago offense extremely dangerous. The Patriots got pounded between the tackles last week against the Jets, giving up a whopping 218 rushing yards, so look for the Bears to try to get the ground game going on Sunday.
Forte is a special talent, and he is going to have to put forth a special game this week if Chicago wants to pull out the win.
2. Zach Moore
Someone must step up in Chandler Jones’ absence, and while the Patriots are always unpredictable in these situations, I think we will see rookie Zach Moore for a good portion of this game. The Patriots’ corners should be able to handle Chicago’s outside wideouts, but if Jay Cutler has all day to throw the ball, he will find somebody that is open, regardless of who is covering.
I honestly don’t have much faith in Moore, as he really is just a project. He has some solid athletic skills, but he needs to be developed further if he wants to evolve into a productive pass rusher. His raw talent may be good enough to make a few plays this week, but he is definitely not the one to completely replace Chandler Jones.
Jay Cutler is always good for a turnover or two every game, and if you can pressure him, he may cough it up even more. And in a game like this, where the offenses may rule, turnovers will be key.