Both teams will be trying to bounce back from a nationally televised loss in Week 1 when the Chicago Bears visit the Denver Broncos this weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. Fans in Chicago, Denver, and everywhere in between can watch the game on Fox.
Current odds list the Bears as 1.5-point favorites on the road with an over/under of 40 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s betting odds and game previews.
After winning the NFC North last season, the Bears are hoping to take the next step in 2019. However, they fell flat in their opener, losing at home to the Packers 10-3. The Chicago offense wasn’t the most potent unit last season, but the Bears were expecting to score more than a field goal against one of their biggest rivals. Alas, the Bears couldn’t take advantage of their defense keeping Aaron Rodgers in check, starting the year 0-1.
This is where things could get tricky for the Bears, who now face back-to-back road games. For what it’s worth, the Bears don’t play another playoff team until Week 7, which is after their bye week. That gives them plenty of time to recover from last week’s loss. However, they also don’t want to put themselves in an early hole by starting 0-2.
Of course, the Broncos have the same concern under new head coach Vic Fangio, who spent last season as the ringleader of Chicago’s outstanding defense. Fangio’s long-awaited debut as a head coach didn’t exactly go as he would have liked. The Broncos laid an egg against the rival Raiders on Monday night, losing 24-16 while struggling to do much on either side of the ball.
The silver lining is that the Broncos get to come home for Week 2. Traditionally, the Broncos are one of the best home teams in the NFL because of the way Denver’s high elevation impacts visiting teams. However, the Broncos know that they’re facing an uphill battle in the AFC West, competing with the Chiefs and Chargers. Starting the season 0-2 would be difficult to overcome with two games against each of those teams on their schedule later in the year.
I have to think that the Bears are better offensively than they showed in Week 1. On the other hand, I’m not sure I can say the same for the Broncos. I also feel good about the Chicago defense, even on the road. That’s enough to push me toward the Bears, especially since a 2-point win is all they need to cover.
Offensive worries aside, I think the Bears will win this game with their defense. While they didn’t force a turnover last week, they did limit Rodgers and company to 213 total yards, helped along by five sacks. The kicker is that Khalil Mack didn’t have any of the sacks. He simply drew the attention of the Packers, allowing others to get to the quarterback, including Leonard Floyd, who had two sacks.
The Chicago pass rush figures to be a nightmare for the Broncos this week. Joe Flacco is even less mobile now than he was earlier in his career when he still wasn’t that mobile. The Broncos allowed him to get sacked three times last week against a rather modest Oakland defense, and things could get worse this week.
Denver will be missing right tackle Ja’Wuan James, a key offseason signing who was supposed to help the offensive line. Meanwhile, young left tackle Garrett Bolles continues to be a flag machine. If he doesn’t allow Flacco to be sacked, he’ll draw a penalty flag and stall a drive. The Broncos managed to get to the red zone four times last week, which is good. However, they struggled to finish off their drives, often settling for field goals.
On the other side of the ball, the Denver defense was also a disappointment in Week 1. At times, they were shredded by an Oakland offense that lacks top-flight playmakers. They failed to record a sack or force a turnover, which was shocking to see for a team that has one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
In fairness, the Chicago offense was equally disappointing. Rookie running back David Montgomery had a lackluster start to his career, as the Bears seemed to lack an identity on offense. They attempted just 15 running plays while having Mitchell Trubisky throw the ball 45 times. That wasn’t the recipe the Bears use on offense last season. Even if they want Trubisky to do more, throwing 45 times isn’t the solution, especially when he was sacked five times.
With two strong defensive teams going at it, my gut is usually to favor the home team. But I don’t trust Denver’s offense at all right now. Trubisky, on the other hand, has a history of responding well after poor outings. With the spread almost meaningless, I’ll take my chances with the Bears as road favorites.