The Baltimore Ravens schedule brings them to a Week 6 showdown against the Chicago Bears. We present the three keys to victory if the Ravens want to earn their fifth victory of the season.
The Baltimore Ravens stormed into Oakland last week and firmly defeated a talented Raiders squad by a double-digit margin. The most prominent aid for the Baltimore Ravens in that game was the absence of the Raiders’ star quarterback Derek Carr, who was on the sideline recovering from a transverse process fracture in his back.
This week, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears and emerging NFL starter Mitch Trubisky, who will take the field at M&T Bank Stadium for his second career start and first on the road.
The Past, Present, and Future
The Bears have had anything but a successful season so far, as the team sports a 1-4 record and ranks close to worst in the league in points for.
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But it’s important to consider that their schedule has been anything but easy up to this point, with games (and losses) against the Buccaneers, Falcons, and Packers having already come and gone.
Last week, Chicago fell at home by a mere three points to Minnesota in a Monday night matchup that came down to the wire.
The Bears’ schedule doesn’t get any easier moving forward, as they’ll welcome the 4-2 Panthers to Soldier Field after their matchup with the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. Beyond that, the Bears will head to New Orleans for a battle in the Superdome before taking a breather during their Week 9 bye week.
Biggest Weakness: Passing
It should come as no surprise that the Bears struggle to pass the ball considering the team features the likes of former backup Mike Glennon and developing rookie Mitch Trubisky. Much like the Ravens, the Bears haven’t been able to find a way to protect the football while simultaneously being efficient in moving towards the opposing end zone.
The six interceptions thrown by the Bears’ quarterbacks ranks as the fourth-most in the league, on par with both the Bengals and the Ravens. Likewise, Chicago ranks third-worst in the league when it comes to net yards per passing attempt.
With inconsistencies at the signal caller position and a general inability to move the ball through the air, the Bears have been and remain vulnerable to ball-hawking secondaries that are hungry for pass deflections and interceptions.
Barring a sudden tremendous showing from Mitch Trubisky, there’s no reason to suspect that the Bears will be able to hastily restore their passing attack at this point in the season.
Biggest Strength: Rushing
It’s not too often that both a team’s biggest strength and weakness are on the offensive side of the ball, but the Chicago Bears have found a way to run the ball with success even without the compliment of a competent air attack.
The Bears rank ninth in total rushing yards and eighth in first downs gained by rushing, which is undoubtedly a testament to Head Coach John Fox’s confidence in his running backs during crucial moments.
WR Cameron Meredith (Torn ACL/MCL) – Injured Reserve
- After only eleven receptions during the 2015 season, Meredith had a breakout season in 2016, hauling in 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns.
WR Kevin White (Broken Shoulder Blade) – Injured Reserve
- The former first-round pick has only started five games due to various injuries since being drafted in 2015. White is still yet to catch his first professional touchdown.
S Quintin Demps (Broken Arm) – Injured Reserve
- The veteran safety has recorded eighteen interceptions of the course of his NFL career but is yet to pick off a pass in a Bears uniform.
DE Willie Young (Torn Triceps Muscle) – Injured Reserve
- Young spent his four years in Detroit, where he recorded a mere six sacks. Since coming to Chicago in 2014, Young has more than quadrupled that tally, as he’s sacked opposing quarterbacks twenty-six times as a member of the Bears.
G Kyle Long (Ankle) – Questionable
- The three-time Pro Bowler missed only one start during his first three seasons with the Bears but has been more frequently sidelined by injuries since the beginning of the 2016 season.
The Bottom Line
While the Baltimore Ravens have a winning record with their sights set on the postseason and the Bears are currently in the running for the first overall pick in next year’s draft, the two teams are remarkably similar. Both the Ravens and Bears, week in and week out, struggle to pass the ball while concurrently finding great success in the ground game.
But the similarities don’t stop there, as each team features a defensive unit that ranks in the top fifteen when it comes to total yards yielded. Simply put, the Bears and Ravens are run-centric teams with solid defenses that just so happen to have two completely different records.
It may seem hypocritical to bash the Bears’ passing game considering the Ravens sport an equally faulty, if not worse, air attack, but the fact of the matter is that the Bears’ Mitch Trubisky lacks something that the Ravens’ Joe Flacco has plenty of. Experience.
The hope for the Baltimore Ravens is that Joe Flacco’s football knowledge, poise in the pocket, and ability to read professional defenses will allow him to shine above Trubisky this upcoming Sunday.
As odd as it may seem, the best plan of action for the Ravens may merely be to focus on how other teams have stymied their success so far this season and to use those tactics against the Bears, only because of how similar these two teams are.
Additionally, extra emphasis must be put on stopping Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, as they are quite clearly the primary source Chicago’s offensive production. That means more men in the box and an extra focus on tackling and not letting illusive runners slip the defenders’ fingertips.