Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 13, 2017 at 9:58 PM
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CHICAGO BEARS (1-4) AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (3-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, M&T Bank Stadium. TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: Sixth regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 3-2. The home team has won each game in the series. The Bears won at Soldier Field in the last meeting in 2013, 23-20 in overtime.

KEYS TO THE GAME: In all three of their wins this season, the Ravens have jumped out to an early lead, run the ball effectively and forced turnovers. That appears to be their blueprint for success, mainly because the offense is not built to play from behind.

Quarterback Joe Flacco will take a couple of early shots downfield to take players out of the box and help the running game. The Bears pose a formidable challenge and are ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense. Flacco has been sacked nine times, thrown six interceptions and has a 71.0 passer rating. The Bears need to stay basic because safeties have to be back protecting against Flacco's deep passes.

Defensively, the Ravens have to help the offense by forcing fumbles or making interceptions. Baltimore will pressure Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft who has been prone to make mistakes. The Ravens could struggle to contain running back Jordan Howard and might be forced to stack the defensive line to avoid big gains.

Pittsburgh and Jacksonville piled up 339 rushing yards against the Ravens and won. It helped keep the Ravens' pass rush at bay. Three teams who lost to the Ravens had a total of 278 yards rushing and had 11 turnovers. The Bears have to get Howard running, and their inside running needs to be far more effective than last week. Chicago has a minus-9 turnover ratio, ranked 32nd in the NFL.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Ravens RT Jermaine Eluemunor vs. Bears DE Akiem Hicks. Chicago has an aggressive defense that likes to attack quarterbacks. Hicks already has four sacks. The Ravens' offensive line has been plagued with injuries but did not allow a sack last week against Oakland. However, Matt Skura, who was starting for injured Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda, went down with a sprained MCL. This means the rookie Eluemunor will likely get the start. Hicks will attack that side of the line to get pressure on Flacco.

--Bears LT Charles Leno Jr vs. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs. Suggs is 34 but not exactly ready for the old pass rusher's home. He leads the team with four sacks and still gets outside around tackles or beats them with inside moves. Leno is able to keep pass rushers at bay if the Bears are running the ball well or have help on his side of the field. Otherwise, Trubisky will need to be throwing plenty of five-step and three-step passes.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

CHICAGO BEARS

--Out: LB John Timu (knee, ankle), WR Markus Wheaton (groin)

--Questionable: C Hroniss Grasu (hand), DT Nick Kwiatkoski (chest)

BALTIMORE RAVENS

--Out: C Matt Skura (knee), RB Terrance West (calf)

--Doubtful: DT Brandon Williams (foot), LB Tim Williams (thigh)

--Questionable: DT Carl Davis (thigh), CB Jaylen Hill (thigh), S Anthony Levine (thigh), WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (achilles), TE Maxx Williams (ankle)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bears LB Danny Trevathan. The Bears' defense has thrived up front against the run, especially with Trevathan on the field. His ability to get behind bigger defensive linemen and then pop into gaps to make tackles also makes him one of the better players at knocking fumbles loose. Coaches doubt Trevathan's suspension for hitting Davante Adams will lead to an altered style of play. He has never been known as a dirty player, just an aggressive one. Trevathan wasn't at Jerrell Freeman's level in terms of playing pass coverage, but he was better than the other Bears linebackers, and his return should also benefit them in covering Baltimore tight end Benjamin Watson.

FAST FACTS: Chicago RB Jordan Howard has 496 scrimmage yards and four TDs in four career games vs. the AFC. In nine career road games, he has 791 scrimmage yards and two TDs. ... Chicago LB Leonard Floyd had six tackles, two sacks and a safety last week, his third career two-sack game. He has 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two recoveries in his past six games on the road. ... Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has nine TD passes in the last four games at home. In the past four games vs. the NFC, he has four TD passes vs. one INT. ... Ravens RB Javorius Allen rushed for 73 yards with a TD last week. He has 145 scrimmage yards (72.5 per game) with a TD catch in the past two games at home. He leads the team with 20 catches. ... WR Jeremy Maclin had 85 yards receiving in his last game vs. Chicago (10/11/15 with KC).

PREDICTION: The Ravens will keep the home trend going as they make life miserable for Trubisky and the Bears' offense.

OUR PICK: Ravens, 24-16.

--Ellen Port

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