Friday, December 18, 2009

Bears get another chance to affect playoff race

The Ravens, like the Bears, are an underachieving team. After making it to the AFC Championship game last year with rookie QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore fans had reason to expect even better things in '09. A 3-0 start reinforced their hopes.

But they lost their next three games and have since alternated wins and losses on their way to a 7-6 record. Their mediocrity has them on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff race, though they certainly have time to change that. In fact, a win over the Bears would vault them into playoff position after the Jags lost last night.

The Ravens' offense has actually improved over last year, but their normally suffocating defense, while still ranked eighth in the league, has slipped. This is the first time since 2003 they've ranked outside the top six.


Contain Ray Rice. Easier said than done. Rice has rushed for over 1,000 yards and has over 600 additional receiving yards. While Flacco is having a solid season, he hasn't looked quite as confident as he did last year. The Bears need to focus on Rice and force Flacco to beat them.

Stay disciplined on "D." This is something of a caveat to the first key. While the Bears will be inclined to go all out against the run, they need to beware of Rice catching passes out of the backfield. They need to "stay at home" so as not to get burned by the screen pass.

No interceptions! Duh. Cutler continues to lead the league with 22 picks. His mistakes have cost the Bears many a chance to score and even a couple wins. If the Bears want to have any chance of beating a decent team on the road, Cutler has to throw the ball solely to his own teammates.

Where'd he come from?

QB Joe Flacco, Delaware
RB Ray Rice, Rutgers
WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma
WR Derrick Mason, Michigan State
TE Todd Heap, Arizona State
LB Ray Lewis, Miami
S Ed Reed, Miami
LB Prescott Burgess, Michigan

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