Reporting Paul Gallant
The last time the Texans were slated for Sunday Night Football, they got smoked. Will things be different tonight against a very good Bears team?
The Texans don’t typically turn the ball over. They’ve only turned it over six times, the lowest giveaway total in the league. But that could change on Sunday.
That’s because the Bears have forced a whopping 28 turnovers in 2012, scoring on 7 of them. And it all starts with cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman has 2 interceptions, but more importantly – 7 FORCED FUMBLES. Texans wideouts must be wary of his ability to punch the ball loose.
If you throw away from Tillman, you must be careful. That’s because other cornerback Tim Jennings leads the league with 6 interceptions. Safety Major Wright (3 INT) and corner D.J. Moore (2 INT) aren’t slouches either.
The League’s Best Defensive Line
J.J. Watt might be the league’s best lineman. But no front four is playing as well as the Bears.
6’7 and 288 pound athletic monster Julius Peppers is the crown jewel – recording 5 sacks this season. He’s just one of many though. Henry Melton has 5 QB take downs of his own – not to mention 2 forced fumbles. Corey Wooton has 4, as does Israel Idonije. Factor Shea McClellin, Stephen Paea, and Texans bust Amobi Okoye into the mix, and you could argue that the Monsters of the Midway have the league’s best depth in the defensive trenches.
Linebackers: Old…but Damn Good
They’re a combined 65 years old. But Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are still bringing their A-games. The duo has combined for 99 tackles, 3 picks, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 defensive touchdowns in 2012. If Arian Foster and the Texans have an off day running the football, these two will likely be the reason.
Jay Cutler has been maddeningly inconsistent this season for the Bears. One week he looks good. The next…he’s giving away games with TERRIBLE interceptions. And all the while, he’s getting sacked, sacked, sacked some more. He’s been brought down 28 times, third most in the NFL just behind Green Bay and Arizona’s dumpster-fire O-Line.
Still, you can’t sneer at Cutler. He has a cannon for an arm and can extend plays with his feet. When he gets protection, he can make plays.
And he’ll make them with Brandon Marshall. Cutler and Marshall’s bromance has been well documented this season. He’s had the ball thrown his way a whopping 90 times in 2012. You’d have to add up the passes to Cutler’s three other main aerial weapons (Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, and Devin Hester) to see similar target totals. If Jonathan Joseph is effective in coverage tonight, the Bears passing game could be completely ineffective.
Like Arian Foster, the Bears rewarded running back Matt Forte with a long term contract this off-season. Solid plan. He has 539 yards by ground and 179 yards receiving. Chicago’s offense typically depends on Forte on the ground, especially with the horrendous protection their offensive line offers. When Forte needs a blow, Chicago hands the ball off to Michael Bush.