Back and forth on how I would have predicted the Bears to match up with the Cardinals this season. At first I saw the Cardinals as a stiff test on the road, this after they started the season 4-0. Then the Cardinals went on a long losing streak while the Bears stood at 7-3 on the season. Now the Bears have lost five of their last six games and while the Cardinals have lost nine of their last 10, the Bears can no longer take them for granted.
It's a tale of two similar teams, with one exception, Jay Cutler is the lone exception in this contest. Both the Bears and Cardinals have aggressive front sevens and ball-hawking secondaries. According the Aikman defensive efficiency rating the Bears rate first and second in the NFL respectively.
The Cardinals' defense is a very aggressive defensive 3-4 that plays a lot of five man fronts. They attack from all directions and get their secondary involved in their zone-blitzing scheme. Darnell Dockett is a very aggressive player, one of the most underrated interior linemen in the NFL.
Add in Calais and Patrick Peterson and their defense can attack the gaps, and force takeaways. Against the Lions the Cardinals forced four turnovers, three interceptions and a muffed punt. Peterson is a young and talented cornerback that will go head to head with Brandon Marshall and could hold his own in that battle. Peterson is not likely to shut Marshall down without help, but he could be a part of the reason why the Bears have to once again force the action to a different part of the offense.
The Bears meanwhile should get Henry Melton back this week to play their two best pass rushers in Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton. The Bears on offense however remain a riddle lost in an enigma. This plays right into the Cardinals' hands and should provide the balance in this contest for what should be a win but what may otherwise be a tough game.
The Cardinals on offense face a lot of the same problems the Bears do. Their offensive line can't get much of a push in the running game and is horrible in pass blocking. Adding to their woes on offense Larry Fitzgerald is having a down year, his worst of his career.
What magnifies the problem is the Cardinals have the worst passing attack in the NFL. Their quarterback situation is a mess with no way of determining who will be starting from one week to the next and how precisely that player will play.
The Bears need to win this game, if not for any other reason than for self respect. A loss in this game means this team has lost it's way and no one will deny a change is in order.