Saturday, November 7, 2009

Building Momentum

Fresh off a convincing, albeit expected victory over the Browns, the Bears welcome Kurt Warner and the 4-3 Arizona Cardinals to Chicago this week. The Cards have shown the same types of up-and-down tendencies that the Bears have displayed through the first half of the 2009-10 NFL season.

Weather will not be a factor on Sunday, as the forecast calls for unseasonably mild temperatures in the 60’s. More good news for the visiting Cardinals is the health of explosive wideout Anquan Boldin, who has looked sharp in practice all week, and should be ready to roll on Sunday afternoon.

Perhaps the x-factor in this game, however, is the familiarity that Lovie Smith has with Kurt Warner’s game. Coach Smith was the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, when Warner ran the “Greatest Show on Turf”. If any coach knows Kurt’s tendencies, it would be Lovie, as he had the opportunity to lead a defense that practiced against Warner each week when they were both in St. Louis.

If the Bears offense expects to ride the resurgent Matt Forte to a second straight victory, it will have to get it done against a defense that yields less than 100 yards rushing per game. Of course Forte and the Bears offense line probably won’t be too concerned, as last week, the Panthers RB tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart torched the Cardinals for 270 yards on the ground.

On the defense side of the ball, the Bears should have no trouble handling the worst running game in the NFL. The combination of rookie Beanie Wells and goal line specialist Tim Hightower bring a measly 64.9 yards per game average into Week 9’s game. If the Cardinals have any chance to snag a road victory from the Bears, they will need a mistake-free performance from Kurt Warner.

The Bears were opportunistic last week against Cleveland and may have more game-changing chances this week, as Kurt Warner is heading into the game with a putrid 5 interception performance against Carolina still on his mind.

Expect a ball-control type effort from the Bears, building on last week’s strong performance from Matt Forte. The Cardinals remain dangerous, with one of the league’s most prolific receiving duos in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The key to containing these two elite weapons on Sunday, is the ability of the Bears defense to prevent the Cards from establishing any semblance of a running attack. If the Bears defensive line can hold the Arizona rushing attack to short first and second down ground gains, the pressure will fall squarely on the aging shoulders of Kurt Warner. Should Warner be forced into a number of third and long situations, the Bears secondary will have plenty of help defending Arizona’s talented receiving corps.

Chicago may not abuse the Cardinals as badly they did the Browns last week, but the defending NFC Champions should return to the desert 4-4.

Bears 24 Cardinals 14

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