#260 Chicago Bearsvs.#259 Jacksonville Jaguars
Written by David Hess
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, October 16, 2016
Where: Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Lines: Chicago -2.5
The AFC South meets the NFC North as the Jacksonville Jaguars battle it out with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Jags enter this game off a 30-27 win over the Colts in London two weeks ago, while the Bears enter off a 29-23 loss at the hands of those same Colts. These teams last met in 2012 and the Bears win that game by a score of 41-3.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are slated to play at least one game in London through the 2020 season, so it’s only fitting that they won their first game of the year overseas. In that game they took out a struggling Indianapolis Colts team by a score of 30-27. It finally was a good offensive showing for the Jags, but even more impressive may be a defense that held a potent Colts offense to just 284 yards of total offense, including 190 through the air. Defense has not been a strength of this team over the years and while they have allowed 27.8 ppg on the year, which is 25th in the league, they have done so on just 304.5 ypg (7th) overall, including just 198.8 ypg through the air (7th). A true break-but-don’t-bend defense.
On offense last year the Jags improved by a TD over what they put up in 2014, but they have regressed dome this year as they come in averaging just 21 ppg (19th) on just 320.8 ypg (25th). The run game is very poor at 30th, but the passing game is pretty average at 19th. Blake Bortles had a solid 2015, but hasn’t gotten off to a great start this year as thrown for 1050 yards on 61.3% passing. He does have seven TDs, but has also thrown six picks and his QBR of 79.4 is 26th in the league. Last year he had a QBR of 88.2, which was 22nd in the league. They need more from him and his supporting cast. TJ Yeldon is the team’s leading rusher, but with just 155 yards so far.
The Chicago Bears are off to a 1-4 start to the year and have already lost QB Jay Cutler, which means that their games have been in the hands of journeyman Brian Hoyer. In his three games as a starter, the Bears are just 1-2, but it is hardly Hoyer’s fault as he has thrown for 300+ yards in all three starts. Last week he had a big game as he hit 23 of 33 passes for 397 yards with two TDs and no INTs. Still, the Bears lost that game to the Colts by a score of 29-23 as their defense let them down late in the game. Hoyer has now thrown for 1094 yards on 71.4% passing with six TDs and no INTs on the year and his QBR of 108.5 in 3rd best in the league.
As a team, the Bears are 6th in the league in passing, but they have had trouble scoring as they are 30th in that department, averaging just 17.0 ppg. The run game needs to step up more as they are 19th in that department this year and it shows that they really miss Matt Forte. Jordan is starting to step up as he had just 67 yards in his first two games of the year and 229 yards in his last two. If he keeps that up then it will continue to take the pressure off of whoever is at QB. Cutler is listed as day-to-day right now. The defense has not been terrible as they are 14th in total yards allowed and 21st in points allowed, giving up 25.2 ppg.
I will take a shot at the over in this game. Blake Bortles has all the tools and weapons to do some damage vs the Bears in this game. If I were the Bears, I would be starting Brian Hoyer in this game as he has been a very solid QB thus far for them, while Cutler has struggled the last couple of years for the Bears. He has thrown for over 300 yards in three straight games and will take aim at a Jacksonville defense that has played pretty well so far, especially vs the pass. Both of these offenses should have good games vs below average defenses.
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