Kickoff Sunday, Sep 23rd 4:25pm Eastern

Bears (
22.25) at

Cards (
16.75)

Over/Under 39.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Bears Run D
27th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O
14th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Bears Pass D
17th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O
25th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
Cardinals Run D
11th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
Bears Run O
9th DVOA/14th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D
28th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
Bears Pass O
32nd DVOA/30th Yards per pass

BEARS // CARDINALS OVERVIEW

This game currently carries a microscopic Over/Under of 38.0, which gives us an early idea of how we should view this game. The Cardinals’ offense is in pieces right now (some of the deep shots that Sam Bradford is passing up — or, more likely, is not even seeing — are astonishing), and this broken unit will be taking on a red hot Bears defense. On the other side, Mitchell Trubisky has been extremely up-and-down through the first two games of the season in this new Matt Nagy offense.

BEARS PASS OFFENSE

While the Cardinals’ defense is attackable on paper, they play a disciplined zone, and some of the reads and tight-window passes that Jared Goff had to make last week in this matchup are not things that Trubisky is currently equipped to do. I won’t be surprised if he sails a couple interceptions in this spot. The Cardinals also rank eighth in adjusted sack rate, making them a sneaky, cheap defense against a player in Trubisky who has routinely held onto the ball too long.

Only five quarterbacks have a lower average intended air yards than Trubisky, and similar to the game between Andrew Luck and Alex Smith last week, this game has a chance to turn into a dink-and-dunk fest. (Luck, Smith, and Bradford are three of the five quarterbacks with a lower average intended air yards mark than Trubisky.) Trubisky’s lack of aggressiveness and his lack of accuracy on downfield throws are holding back this entire offense.

On a more encouraging note, Allen Robinson ranks behind only Julio Jones and Odell Beckham in percentage share of team air yards, with 53.1% of the Bears’ air yards flowing his direction so far. Robinson has turned his 21 targets into 14 catches for 144 yards — and while the yardage is disappointing on so many targets, it has room to grow, and he has posted a pair of usable games without yet scoring a touchdown. With his 14-target game on Monday night coming after pricing was set for Week 3, Robinson has a high-water cap hit of only 11.2% on FantasyDraft, while sitting under 11% on FanDuel and DraftKings. His chances of posting a monster game are slim in this offense — but his chances of posting a dud are slim as well. The Cardinals’ zone defense and aggressive run defense tendencies make them particularly susceptible to play-action, and Robinson should be able to get between the linebackers and the safeties at least a few times in this one.

Elsewhere in this passing attack, Taylor Gabriel somehow has an aDOT of only 4.8 (and by “somehow,” I guess I mean: Matt Nagy knows he can’t trust Trubisky to throw deep to Gabriel, so they’re trying to use his speed in other ways), while Trey Burton has seen only 15% of the team’s air yards after teasing us with his upside throughout training camp. The matchup is not a concern here, and Burton has the upside for a strong game, but he’ll be difficult to trust from a floor/usage perspective.

BEARS RUN OFFENSE

Arizona has been above-average against the run to begin the year, ranking 14th in DVOA and eighth in yards allowed per carry, with an attacking, downhill run defense style that Steve Wilks has brought over from the Panthers. Last season, Arizona ranked third in yards allowed per carry with similar personnel.

Jordan Howard has continued to do a good job catching passes out of the backfield, with eight catches now on nine targets, for 58 yards. His work on the ground has been a lot more disappointing, however, with 117 yards on 29 carries, good for only 4.0 yards per tote. While the Cardinals got worked over last week by Todd Gurley in the red zone, he managed to pile up only 42 yards against them on 19 carries. This is a difficult matchup for Howard, and the main purpose he will serve in this game will be to help this offense set up play action. Any big gains he piles up should be viewed as a bonus, and he’ll likely need a touchdown in order to return any major DFS value.

CARDINALS PASS OFFENSE

On the Bears’ side, Mitchell Trubisky has thrown for only 371 yards through two games. On the Cardinals’ side, Sam Bradford has amassed only 243 passing yards through two games. He will be taking on a ferocious Bears defense that ranks second in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate and has four takeaways through the first two games of the year. Because Bradford throws so many short passes, he has managed to take only three sacks all year, but the Bears will surely clamp down on those short passes and make them even more difficult to complete. This is likely going to be a long day for the Cardinals’ offense — and it won’t be surprising if Bradford is benched for Josh Rosen before the end of this contest.

Larry Fitzgerald remains the lead man in this passing attack, for whatever that is worth. He sustained a hamstring injury in last week’s game and played only about half the team’s snaps, but he saw five targets last week and 10 targets in Week 1. He is the only name with predictable upside in this offense, and he should step right back into eight to 11 targets if healthy this week. If he is not healthy: keep in mind that this passing attack has not even cracked 250 yards yet, two games into the season.

CARDINALS RUN OFFENSE

Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has said this week that he needs to get David Johnson more involved out of the slot, but it’s difficult to imagine this team being capable of overhauling an entire playbook from one week to the next. Expect D.J. to get a spike of usage in the passing attack this week, but also realize that this staff had the entire offseason to figure out how to maximize D.J.’s unique talents, and it has taken them until now to realize that this is something they should have had in mind.

Instead of using D.J. in space, the Cardinals have been banging him between the tackles, to the tune of 22 carries for 89 yards, good for 3.9 yards per carry. He has only 11 targets on the season, and last week he had only two targets all game. Chicago currently ranks sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per carry and eighth in DVOA against the run. We could theoretically give D.J. a bump for the expected rise in targets this week (and he did see nine targets in Week 1), but this is still a difficult matchup, on a team with the second-lowest Vegas-implied total on the slate. As tempted as I am to bet on D.J.’s talent, this offense is so bad right now, it will be tough for him to actually hit for the sort of upside we should optimally be hunting.

JM’S INTERPRETATION

The defenses both stand out in this game — though for all the data points that cause the Cardinals to make sense, it just feels likely that they will find a way to fail.

As for the offenses: Allen Robinson is really the only man on these two teams with any serious shot at upside — and given his obvious floor, he’s a strong piece to consider. I’m viewing him similar to the way I viewed Tevin Coleman last week: I expect a solid game, and I’ll be happy to land on him if that’s the way roster construction works out; but I don’t expect a week-winning game, and I won’t be moving around pieces on my roster to “make sure I have him.”

On what will likely be one of the lowest-scoring games on the slate, I won’t look further than that myself. If you like this Cardinals offense more than I do, you could make a slim case for Fitzgerald or D.J. in tourneys, but each guy will have to battle to post a true “upside” game.