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This weekâ€™s Monday Night Football game offers two teams who have even records as the Chicago Bears (1-1) travel to the Big Apple to play the New York Jets (1-1). Chicago lost its home opener in week one in OT to the Bills 23-20, while the Jets got by Oakland 19-14 in their home game. The second week saw the Bears defeat the 49ers 28-20 and New York lose to the Packers 31-24.
Chicago offers a solid passing game and a finely tuned defense that can really win games. For the Bears to be ultimately successful times this year, they will need to add an active running attack to their arsenal of weapons.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has been able to get the ball in the end zone repeatedly in the early days of this season. Heâ€™s thrown six TDs, while giving up two picks. Although mobility can be a factor for him, heâ€™s been sacked just three times. There are four Bear receivers who have accumulated 100-plus yards thus far: WR Brandon Marshall (119 YDS with 4 TDs), WR Alshon Jeffery (118 YDS, averaging 14.8), DE Martellus Bennett (102 YDS with 2 TDs), and RB Matt Forte (102 YDS). Forte, the Bears running back, has also gained 103 yards on the ground.
Putting a quality defensive squad on the field is a Chicago tradition, and this year the team continues that tradition. Of the five sacks Chicago is credited with, Willie Young owns three of those. They also have accumulated 6 TFL, 4 INTs, and 1 FF, which they recovered. They are stingy when defending against the pass and excel at red zone play.
If defense wins games, and it does, and a stable, experienced QB can be a difference-maker, and he can be, then the Bears have a shot at being victorious against New York.
The Jets can run the ball, and they can defend, but they still donâ€™t have a solid passing game. What will the number one rushing offense do against the Bears, who are so good at stopping the ground game?
No NFL team is gaining more yards on the ground than the New York Jets. RB Chris Ivory has proven to be ultra reliable, averaging 6.3 YPC while scoring 2 TDs. Chris Johnson, also at running back, is averaging 3.6 YPC. Ivory has run for 145 yards and Johnson for 89. In only his second season, QB Geno Smith is playing better than one would expect, connecting on 65% of his passes, tossing 2 TDs and 2 INTs. WR Eric Decker, who is averaging 15.2 YPC and has 1 TD, leads the team in yardage with 145.
The Jet defense has been very tough versus the run. In fact, they lead the league in least number of yards allowed on the ground. However, the teamâ€™s secondary is vulnerable. New York is one of the few teams that does not a have pick this season. Cutler may be able to exploit the Jets in the middle and deep.
Placekicker Nick Folk offers New York that weapon that they need in a tight game. Folk is four for four this year in field goals, including a 52-yard score. This contest may be close. Folk could be the difference in this game.
This will be an in-the-trenches football game with the final outcome being determined on the line. Itâ€™s the Jetsâ€™ running attack versus the Bearsâ€™ air game. Although Chicago is a 3-point underdog and they are on the road, their defense is so solid that they travel to New York with a true advantage. Stop the Jets rush attack, cause some turnovers, and Chicago wins. That is certainly possible.