Game Overview ::
- Bears quarterback Justin Fields suffered a separated left shoulder (non-throwing) with associated partially torn ligaments and has said he plans to play assuming he can protect the shoulder. The Bears did not hold a full practice on Wednesday, but Fields was seen throwing passes on Thursday (and actually looked good doing so). I would tentatively expect him to play here.
- On the other side of the game, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is set to find himself as a healthy inactive after some shaky play and even worse post-game comments to the media, with head coach Robert Saleh announcing Wednesday that Mike White will be getting the start in Week 12, backed up by veteran Joe Flacco.
- Fields (and his presence) not only affects the Bears’ likely game plan, but it should also influence primary coverages shown by the Jets – it is much more likely we see increased rates of prevent-spy zone against Fields and higher rates of press man against Siemian.
- Corey Davis is finally off the injury report for the Jets and is expected to play with little limitations after practicing in full all week.
How Chicago Will Try To Win ::
There is a bit of uncertainty regarding how we expect the Bears to try to win here, largely due to the injury Justin Fields suffered at the end of their Week 11 loss to the Falcons – and there has been a ton of uncertainty regarding what the injury actually was, with Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter posting conflicting reports on Monday. From Fields himself, he sustained a separated shoulder in his non-throwing arm with associated partially torn ligaments. He added that he plans to play this weekend as long as he feels he can protect the shoulder so as not to incur any additional damage. Damn. It shouldn’t be understated how much Fields means to this team and to this offense, with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy tailoring the offense to maximize the talent he has available to him over the previous five games. During that span, the Bears have averaged 29.6 points per game while Fields has scored no less than 23.6 DK points including at least one rushing score in each game. Chicago holds the league’s lowest pass rate over expectation (PROE) value and Fields has not attempted more than 28 pass attempts in any game this season. Finally, a defense allowing the eighth-most points per drive, eighth-most yards per drive, and the fifth-worst drive success rate has meant this team has been involved in numerous shootouts over the previous five weeks.
Running back Kahlil Herbert was placed on injured reserve prior to the team’s Week 11 game, leaving only David Montgomery and Trestan Ebner on the team’s depth chart. Darrynton Evans was called up from the practice squad as depth last week, but Montgomery dominated both the snaps and running back opportunities, seeing 21 running back opportunities on a robust 80% of the offensive snaps. That led to his highest fantasy output of the season with 21.1 DK points. It’s fair to expect another game with a similar backfield touch distribution here with the team content to move forward with just Montgomery and Ebner on the roster. The pure rushing matchup yields a below-average 4.22 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Jets defense allowing only 22.0 DK points per game to opposing backfields. That has come via a well below-average 3.96 average yards per carry allowed and only six total scores allowed to the position. As in, the matchup isn’t necessarily there for DMont this week, but the workload most certainly should be. Finally, nose tackle and primary run-stopper Sheldon Rankins has been ruled out for the Jets, softening the matchup on the ground slightly.
As for the pass offense, this is probably the piece most likely to be influenced by the game-day status of Justin Fields, as the team is much more likely to find the offensive success necessary to remain in a close game with Fields on the, well, field. As we mentioned above, Fields has not attempted more than 28 pass attempts in a game this season, yet the Bears are averaging a robust 29.6 points per game over their previous five games, scoring 24 or more in each contest. That level of offensive efficiency and scoring output is almost assuredly to take a hit should Trevor Siemian start, which should theoretically filter more volume to the passing game. It’s unlikely the Bears shift identities with Siemian in at quarterback, but it’s much more likely the team finds themselves in a more negative game environment should Fields be unable to go. Fullback Khari Blasingame has been held to 20% or fewer of the offensive snaps during this most recent five-game stretch, with the team instead electing to mix in heavy alignments through the utilization of tight ends Trevon Wesco and Ryan Griffin at similar rates, keeping the Bears at a below average sub-60% 11-personnel rate over the previous five games. That has meant tight end Cole Kmet has led the team in snaps over the past five games, with Darnell Mooney serving as the only other near every-down pass-catcher. The team has yet to bring Chase Claypool fully up to speed, instead mixing him in with Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, and Byron Pringle to fill the final two wide receiver spots. The matchup is far from ideal against one of the best secondaries in the league, particularly so if the Jets are able to stack the box and play off and tight-man/press coverages with Siemian in at quarterback, something that should mimic a higher rate of prevent-spy zone against Fields (which theoretically opens up room to operate for opposing tight ends). Again, a lot of uncertainty here.
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