It seems like it’s been quite some time since the Chicago Bears took the field against the Green Bay Packers to open this season. Part of the reason why is because Bears fans have been trying to get over a lackluster performance and are eager to move on. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t get any easier in the early weeks of the season, as they travel to face the Denver Broncos today.
For the Broncos, they too are coming off a loss to the division-rival Oakland Raiders. A very slow start allowed for the Raiders to get a big enough lead and hold on as the Broncos started to chip away. Minus a couple of late drives from Denver, Broncos Nation didn’t get to see much consistent success from their offense. Luckily, the defense kept them in the game and gave themselves a chance late but they still ended up losing by six.
Obviously, only one team can win this game and for them, it will ease some fans’ tension and hopefully answer some questions along with it. Meanwhile, whoever ends up losing this game, unless it’s a very close loss, will have more questions that need to be answered and even more grumbling heard from those in the stands.
Here are three things to watch that could determine the outcome between the Bears and Broncos:
How will both Joe Flacco and Mitch Trubisky respond to their lack of success during Week One?
Bears – Of these two, Trubisky had more of a rocky start as the Bears were shut out from the end zone, and nearly shut out altogether. His final stat line against the Packers was 26-45 for 228 yards and one interception. The good news is he led a couple of scoring-caliber drives, but they ended in either punts or turnovers. Trubisky is young and is still considered the future franchise Quarterback for Chicago, but he needs to play better today to get some of the heat off his back.
Broncos – Flacco made his first start as a Bronco last week and nearly helped them pull out a comeback win. Denver didn’t even score until midway through the third quarter, but then things started to click. Flacco’s favorite target, Emmanuel Sanders, finally started to get open and stretch out the field, ending up with a touchdown late in the fourth. Flacco will be making another debut today, playing his first regular-season game at the newly named Empower Field. He’s going to want to deliver for a fanbase that’s seen a lot of mediocrity the past few years.
Which team will have the better defense?
Bears – Chicago had one solid thing going for it entering the 2019 season, having compiled the best defense a season ago. With many of the same faces returning, and a couple of veteran additions, this squad should be regarded as one of the best once again this year. Against the Packers, Chicago managed to rush Aaron Rodgers several times, sacking him five times. That could be a common theme this season with guys like Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan and others leading the charge. The Broncos O-Line showed points of weakness against the Raiders, and it’ll be important to have constant pressure on Flacco to see if he messes up.
Broncos – Denver has had a consistent defense the past few seasons, which has helped keep their team afloat in plenty of games. They still have Von Miller who’s always considered a threat, amongst guys like Bradley Chubb and Chris Harris Jr. For the Broncos defense, their performance against Oakland had to regarded as disappointing much of the night. Granted, they were faced up against one of the best O-Line’s in the league, but that doesn’t change the fact they were unable to bring down Derek Carr. Today it’ll be a different story, as the Chicago Bears’ O-Line is considered a weakness for Chicago. Look for the stars to make up for their lack of success in Week One by hounding Trubisky much of the game.
Will it come down to field goal differential?
Bears – One of the very few highlights during their game against the Packers was seeing Eddie Piniero convert on his first field goal attempt. With all the ups and downs last season (including the playoffs), and during the postseason, it was truly unknown if the Bears had found their next guy. Pineiro was given a shot early and converted a no-doubter from 38 yards. He wouldn’t have another opportunity to give Chicago something they’ve needed to address for months, unfortunately. While it’s a small sample size, starting off 100 percent is always good. With thinner air in Denver, Pineiro’s distance could certainly increase, but will his accuracy remain?
Broncos – As long as Denver works the ball past midfield and finds that perfect zone most of the day, they should be fine. Denver has a proven kicker to help lead the way if needed. During their game at Oakland, Brandon McManus converted three times, the longest coming from 39 yards. Now back at home, McManus is basically a sure thing to put up points if need be. He, and the kicking game, could easily be the difference in this one.
Prediction – Bears 28, Broncos 24