The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Chicago Bears were more active in the trade market than they have been in years.
A few days before their game against the Dallas Cowboys, Robert Quinn was dealt to the Eagles. On Monday, linebacker Roquan Smith was sent to Baltimore in a shocking blockbuster trade. Finally, hours before the deadline, general manager Ryan Poles pulled another rabbit out of his hat and acquired dynamic wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Meanwhile the Miami Dolphins traded for Denver Broncos star pass rusher Bradley Chubb, bringing in badly needed reinforcements to their defensive front.
With this much of a shakeup to both rosters, Sunday’s game between the Bears and Dolphins at Soldier Field should be full of surprises. Most of the experts are picking the Dolphins and their high-powered offense to get the win, but don’t count these scrappy Bears out. Here are three keys for the Bears to score another upset on the season.
- No Fly Zone
The Bears have been terrible against the run all year long, but the Dolphins don’t exactly boast an elite rushing attack. Their passing game, however, is one of the deadliest in the league with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle shredding secondaries. I expect them to go with their strength and try to win through the air.
The Bears’ defensive backs face a trial by fire this Sunday, and if they can play as well as we know they can, Chicago should be able to limit the Dolphins from running up the score, even if the run defense again proves porous.
- Chunk Plays and Touchdowns
Miami’s defense has struggled on the road this year, and the Bears will need to take full advantage of that to stay in this game. Even if the defense reins in Hill and Waddle, Miami can score touchdowns at a moment’s notice.
The Bears’ offense needs to be prepared to do the same. They’ve hit their stride in the last two games against two elite defenses in their own stadiums, so there’s no excuse to not run up the score at Soldier Field. If they’re going to win this game, it’s going to be in a shootout, which means no less than four touchdowns. The presence of Claypool should help with this.
- Special Teams
This game could come down to field position and a clutch field goal. The Bears have struggled at times this year with the field position battle, allowing opponents to start closer to midfield while Justin Fields and the offense starts near their own endzone. That can’t happen against Miami.
Pinning the Dolphins inside their own fifteen yard line while returning punts and kicks close to the forty will go a long way towards a Bears victory, and may even set them up for a game-winning field goal.
There’s a path to a Bears win on Sunday, and they’ve already scored two major upsets against two contending teams. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll find that magic again this week. Not against an air attack as savage as Miami’s. I pick Miami to win this one 31-27.