Week 9 Preview: Bears at Steelers — November 8, 2021

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Week 9 Preview: Bears at Steelers — November 8, 2021

Chicago Bears

How was your Sunday without Bears football on the television? Personally, mine was a lot more relaxed than usual. I watched about 30 minutes of the Vikings-Ravens game before I decided that I would spend my Sunday watching movies. I swear, I can watch The Wolf of Wall Street on repeat. Anyways, the Bears are back in action tonight for a Monday Night Football matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers on ESPN.

Historically, the Bears are not a great team in Monday Night Football games, with a record of 32-40. Growing up, I can remember the Bears getting embarrassed on the national stage quite often. From 1991 to 2003, the Bears were just 4-14 on MNF. Since 2006, however, the Bears are 16-8 on Monday Night Football and 2-2 under Matt Nagy in the NFL’s premier time slot.

Tonight we get probably the final look at the Steelers taking on the Bears with Ben Roethlisberger as the starting quarterback, and the Bears will take on Big Ben and Pittsburgh in a desperate fight to save their season. They’re 3-5 and head into the bye week next week. Doing so at 4-5 is substantially better than at 3-6 on a four-game losing streak.

With this likely being the final time that the Bears line up against Big Ben under center for the Steelers, let’s take a look at Roethlisberger’s numbers against the Bears in four career matchups:

•   Completions-Attempts: 84-135
•   Completion Percentage: 62.2%
•   Yards: 1,035
•   TD: 5
•   INT: 3
•   Yards Per Game: 258.8

Let’s hope that the Bears can give Roethlisberger a proper send-off tonight, and let’s hope that we continue to see Justin Fields add to this exciting highlight package.

“Never Tell Me The Odds”

The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Bears (3-5) as 7-point underdogs against the Steelers (4-3). Over/under: 40-. More on the odds and ATS picks here.

Series History:

The Chicago Bears lead 19-7-1 in the all-time series against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bears have won each of the last three meetings with Pittsburgh and have not lost to the Steelers since December 11, 2005. Tonight’s matchup with Pittsburgh will be the first meeting since the Bears beat the Steelers 23-17 in overtime on September 24, 2017, and the first meeting with Matt Nagy as the head coach.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Broadcast Info: Monday, November 8 at 7:15 CT on ESPN and WGN-9 (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), Westwood One (Kevin Kugler, Trent Green)

Officials: Tony Corrente (referee)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CHICAGO BEARS (3-5, 1-1 NFC North)
POINTS FOR:
123 (15.4 PPG, 31st of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST:
195 (24.4 PPG, 21st of 32)

Offense
•   QB Justin Fields
•   RB David Montgomery
•   WRs Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin
•   TE Cole Kmet
•   LT Jason Peters, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Larry Borom

Unavailable: OL Teven Jenkins, RB/PR Tarik Cohen, RB David Montgomery, J.P. Holtz, Damien Williams

Defense
•   DT Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, DE Bilal Nichols
•   OLBs Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson
•   ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
•   CBs Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor
•   FS DeAndre Houston-Carson
•   SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Unavailable: Khalil Mack

Specialists
•   Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Jakeem Grant Sr. (punt returns), Jakeem Grant Sr. (kick returns)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-3, 1-1 AFC North)
POINTS FOR:
 132 (18.9.0 PPG, 26th of 32)
POINTS AGAINST:
142 (20.3 PPG, 7th of 32)

Offense
•   QB Ben Roethlisberger
•   RB Najee Harris
•   WRs Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington
•   TEs Pat Freiermuth
•   LT Dan Moore Jr., LG Kevin Dotson, C Kendrick Green, RG Trai Turner, RT Chukwuma Okorafor

Defense
•   DEs Chris Wormley, Cameron Heyward; NT Isaiah Buggs
•   WLB T.J. Watt; LILB Devin Bush; RILB Joe Schobert; SLB Alex Highsmith
•   CBs Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton
•   FS Minkah Fitzpatrick; SS Terrell Edmunds

Specialists
•   Chris Boswell (kicker), Presley Harvin III (punter, holder), Christian Kuntz (long snapper), Ray-Ray McCloud (kick and punt returns)

Three Bears

Justin Fields The record isn’t there for Justin Fields this season, and the box score won’t wow you yet. Still, Fields has looked the part and continued to grow this season despite playing behind a weak offensive line, missing his starting running back for the last month, and trying to create a connection with receivers that he got little to no reps with during camp.

In last week’s loss to San Francisco, Fields became the first Bears quarterback to throw for over 150 yards and rush for over 100 yards in the same game when he racked up 175 yards through the air and 103 on the ground in just his sixth NFL start. The last time a Bears quarterback ran for over 100 yards, Bobby Douglass ran for 117 yards in 1972 against the Cleveland Browns. This kid has the makings of something special, and remember; we’re only SIX starts into his career. Fields was named PFF Rookie of the Week in Week 8 against the 49ers for his performance.

But Fields will have his work cut out for him against a very active 3-4 Steelers defense that features the likes of T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, and Cameron Heyward, among others, along the front seven. The Steelers defense is ranked seventh in the NFL in points allowed, surrendering just 20.3 per game. They also rank 11th in the NFL in yardage allowed per game.

The O-Line  The Steelers have won three straight games, and T.J. Watt has been a massive part of that, and you can bet that after racking up 8.5 sacks through six games, he will be looking to exploit a weak Bears offensive line and try to blow up the Bears gameplan in the backfield. Larry Borom at right tackle was a clear improvement last week, but this offensive line is yet to show any consistency, and the Steelers will be looking to wreak havoc in the backfield to try to curtail the Bears No. 1 weapon, Justin Fields.

David Montgomery did travel with the team to Pittsburgh. So there’s a strong possibility that he is activated for tonight’s matchup with the Steelers. Still, Khalil Herbert will likely be involved in the workload out of the backfield with Montgomery playing in his first game since going down with a knee injury in the Bears’ Week 4 win over Detroit. Herbert has been excellent in Montgomery’s absence, racking up four consecutive  70-plus yard games since becoming the primary ball carrier out of the Chicago backfield.

Akiem Hicks. The Bears veteran defensive tackle has been banged up this season and relatively ineffective when on the field, but that has to change. We watched a mediocre San Francisco team bully the Bears last week as they racked up 467 yards of total offense, with 145 of them coming on the ground. Eli Mitchell gashed Chicago’s front seven for 137 yards on 18 carries (7.6 YPC) and a touchdown. The Bears are now 24th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 4.5 YPC.

With no Khalil Mack in the lineup last week, the Bears couldn’t sack the quarterback even once, and Mack has already been ruled out for tonight’s matchup with Pittsburgh. Akiem Hicks has to have a much more significant impact on tonight’s game than he has the rest of this season.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.