For the second time in their first five games, the Chicago Bears face what looks like an automatic victory against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars. Nonetheless, overconfidence isn’t the only threat facing Jay Cutler and company in Sunday’s outing.
These three factors will play the biggest roles in determining whether Jacksonville can spring the upset or whether the Bears will take care of business on the road:
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1. Can Jacksonville keep the Bears’ defense off the scoreboard?
The 14 points Chicago scored on interception returns last week could easily be more than the Jaguars score on Sunday. With a young quarterback and an ineffective passing game, the chances of bad turnovers look very high.
The most encouraging sign for the Jags is that Blaine Gabbert, for all his faults, has thrown just a single interception on the year. He’ll have to continue to keep the turnovers to a minimum if his team is to have any hope for a victory.
3. Do the Jags have any answer for Matt Forte?
In his first game back from an ankle injury, Forte showed few ill effects against the Cowboys. After running for 52 yards against a middling Dallas defense, he has to be looking forward to facing a dreadful one.
Only two teams in the NFL are allowing more rush yards per game than Jacksonville, and the elusive Forte isn’t likely to be the back who changes their luck. Adding to Jacksonville’s troubles, they can’t very well load up with safety help without compromising a none-too-steady pass defense (21st in the league).
Prediction: Bears 35, Jaguars 9
Jacksonville’s home field advantage is about the only advantage they have in this matchup. With Chicago’s offense riding high (and back at full strength) after routing the Cowboys, it’s hard to imagine the scoring-strapped Jags putting up much of a fight.