What to Watch For: Patriots vs Bears
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Joe Calabro, GoLocalWorcester Sports Team
The Patriots come into the game with a record of 4-2 overall, while the Bears are 3-2 overall.
"They’re at the top of the league in a lot of categories. I can see why. It’s a really solid team in all three areas across the board. So, know it will be a big challenge for us out there, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. But, look forward to it. We’ll see what we get on Sunday," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his Wednesday press conference.
The Patriots are 0-2 on the road this season.
"This is the best defense we've played in a long time. We're going to have to go out and play really well on the road. We've talked a lot about playing on the road this week and kind of what we need to do to get a win. We haven't played very well on the road this year and we're going to need to play a lot better than we played the first two times on the road in order to win," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Friday.
Game time is set for 1 p.m.
Patriots vs Bears
Sunday’s game will be the 14th all-time meeting between the Patriots and the Bears, with the New England leading the series 9-4.
The last time the two teams met was in 2014 when New England beat Chicago 51-23 at Gillette Stadium.
The last time the two teams met in Chicago was in 2010 when the Patriots beat the Bears 36-7.
The Bears haven’t won a game in the series since 2000.
As good as the Patriots have looked at home over the last three weeks, they now have to take it on the road.
In the Patriots two road games this season, they have fallen behind early in the game, managing just a first-half field goal against both Jacksonville and Detroit.
Against the Jags, New England fell behind by 18 points and then fell behind the Lions by 10 points.
"We have a huge challenge this week of just playing well and trying to get a win on the road. We just haven't done it, and I think when you're on the road and you fall behind, now it's just the energy picks up, it's like everything's against you and you're just fighting uphill. So, that's something we talked about, getting off to a fast start across the board - offense, defense, kicking game," said Patriots safety Devin McCourty during his press conference on Thursday.
With that said, this will be the Patriots first road game with Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon on the field.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski did not make the trip to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play on Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Gronkowski came up on the injury report this week with a back issue after having an ankle injury earlier this season.
He spoke to the media and did not indicate that he was having any issues, saying "Feeling good. It’s football."
So far this season, Gronkowski has 26 catches for 405 yards and one touchdown.
If Gronkowski is out, New England will depend on Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister at the tight end position.
After being traded to the Bears from Oakland, linebacker Khalil Mack has become a game breaker for the Chicago Bears.
Mack has five sacks and 15 solo tackles on the season, but has missed practice this week due to an ankle injury that he suffered against the Miami Dolphins last week.
"Mack's a great player. He's having a great year. He's had a lot of production on everything - running game, passing game, pass rush, interceptions, batted balls, hurries, sacks, strip-sacks. He's caused fumbles. You name it. He's around the ball a lot. He's a very disruptive guy. It'll take a good team offensive effort to handle all of those guys - Mack, [Eddie] Goldman, [Akiem] Hicks, [Leonard] Floyd, [Bilal] Nichols, the whole crew," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his press conference on Friday.
In total, the Bears defense comes into the game with 18 sacks on the season.
For the Patriots, their offensive line took a hit with Marcus Cannon being ruled out of the game meaning LaAdrian Waddle will get the start.
The Bears enter Sunday ranked third in the NFL in sacks per pass play with 9.94.
"They blitz enough where they've gotten pressure from some of the perimeter players - [Bryce] Callahan, [Roquan] Smith, [Danny] Trevathan. Those guys blitz not every time, but they blitz enough. They've had pressure, too," said Belichick in his press conference.
PHOTO: Chicago Bears
Sunday's game will present a good test for the Patriots running game.
The Chicago Bears are the fourth best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing only 83.4 yards per game.
Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel has rushed for at least 100 yards in two of the last three weeks.
"That's really helpful and running the ball and keeping teams off-balance is really important to great offensive football. You can't throw the ball every down, you can't run it every down, but if you can do both and throw in play-action pass and some screens and just some different variety of plays, it makes it hard to defend and you've got to defend a lot of different players and a lot of different schemes," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Friday.
lIf the Patriots can run the ball against a stingy Bears defense, it will be a good sign for the rest of the season.
The Chicago Bears are the best team in the NFL when it comes to interception rate, entering Sunday with a rate of 5.52.
"The challenge is it's a good scheme. It's a good defense. I think they're well-coached. They always have a lot of variety and when they score a lot of points offensively, it's hard to really match them in the same way. So got to get off to a good start, have to stay balanced, good complementary game and go out there and try to win on the road," said Brady on Friday.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has six interceptions on the season after having just eight interceptions all of last season.