Week 13 Preview: Cardinals at Bears — December 5, 2021

This weekend, the Bears will welcome the NFL leading Arizona Cardinals (9-2) into Soldier Field. And I don’t love what it might do to the segment of Bears fans who thought the win over Detroit was some sort of signal.

Arizona brings a top-five unit to Soldier Field (on both sides of the ball), while the Bears have been ravaged by injuries (also on both sides of the ball). And all of that on top of, you know, just not being better than Arizona at full strength. This has the makings of one of those beatings that New England or Green Bay put on them in 2014 at the tail end of the Trestman era when the Patriots and Packers scored 106 combined points against the Bears in back-to-back weeks.

I can’t sit here and pretend that there’s a viable path to victory over the Cardinals this week, save for a wild miracle-type performance by the Bears and the Cardinals … letting them off the hook. I guess that’s why they take the field.

“Never Tell Me The Odds”

The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Cardinals (9-2) as 7-point favorites against the Bears (4-7). Over/under: 43.5. More on the odds and ATS picks here.

Series History:

The Chicago Bears lead the Arizona Cardinals 57-28-6 in the all-time series. The Bears have won the last meetings with the Cardinals, a 16-14 win over Arizona in September of 2018.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Soldier Field

Broadcast Info: Sunday, December 5 at noon CT on FOX-TV (Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), SportsUSA: Josh Appel, Mark Carrier

Officials: Jerome Boger (referee)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CHICAGO BEARS (4-7, 2-1 NFC North)
POINTS FOR:
179 (16.3 PPG, 29th)
POINTS AGAINST:
254 (23.1 PPG, 18th)

Offense
•   QB Andy Dalton
•   RB David Montgomery
•   WRs Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Damiere Byrd
•   TE Cole Kmet
•   LT Jason Peters, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Larry Borom

Unavailable: RB/PR Tarik Cohen, WR Allen Robinson II

Defense
•   DT Angelo Blackson, NT Eddie Goldman, DE Bilal Nichols
•   OLBs Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson
•   ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
•   CBs Jaylon Johnson, Artie Burns
•   FS Eddie Jackson
•   SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Unavailable: OLB Khalil Mack, ILB Danny Trevathan, DT Akiem Hicks

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

Expected Starters and Lineups:

ARIZONA CARDINALS (9-2, 4-0 NFC West)
POINTS FOR:
 310 (28.2 PPG, 5th)
POINTS AGAINST:
202 (18.4 PPG, 4th)

Offense
•   QB Kyler Murray
•   RB James Conner
•   WRs DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk
•   TE Zach Ertz
•   LT D.J. Humphries, LG Justin Pugh, C Rodney Houston, RG Josh Jones, RT Kelvin Beachum

Defense
•   DT Zach Allen, NT Corey Peters, DE Jordan Phillips
•   OLBs Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, ILBs Isaiah Simmons, Jordan Hicks
•   CBs Byron Murphy Jr., Robert Alford
•   S Jalen Thompson, Budda Baker

Specialists
•   Matt Prater (kicker), Andy Lee (punter, holder), Rondale Moore (kick and punt returns)

Three Bears

Robert Quinn was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Month this week. He’ll have quite the task this Sunday in trying to slow down Kyler Murray and the fifth-ranked Arizona Cardinals offense. Robert Quinn has been excellent this season, and he was super impressive in November. Still, the Bears defense is ravaged right now, and even a career-best type performance from Quinn probably won’t be enough to stop Arizona on Sunday. But, alas, Quinn will be the guy the Bears need to wreak havoc on the Cardinals with Khalil Mack done for the season and Roquan Smith’s status in question this week after he suffered a hamstring injury against Detroit.

David Montgomery should get plenty of work this week with Andy Dalton likely under center again as Justin Fields continues to deal with cracked ribs suffered in the loss to Baltimore two weeks ago. The Cardinals bring a top-five offense into Soldier Field. There is a good chance of that offense eating the Bears alive, so keeping the game on the ground, feeding David Montgomery the ball, and controlling the clock will be the wisest game plan that Matt Nagy could roll out this week. The Bears’ defense is bruised and battered, and keeping them on the field because you can’t control the clock is a recipe for disaster. The Cardinals might score 40 points on the Bears in this one if the time of possession is lopsided in Arizona’s favor.

Darnell Mooney will get the lion share of targets again this week with Allen Robinson II likely out on Sunday. With A-Rob sidelined, Mooney has ten catches, 144 yards, and a touchdown in his last two games. The second-year wideout has 46 catches, 694 yards, and three touchdowns on the season. Let the kid eat; there’s nothing else left to do this season but prepare for next season. Except for the fact that the guy calling the plays (regardless of who is “calling them”) is trying to save his job, which is why I believe that if the Bears are resigned to firing Nagy after the season, they should just do it now. There are legitimate pieces for the future on the roster, like Darnell Mooney, so why keep up this Nagy charade if you’re going to fire him after the season?

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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