Coming off of a huge win in Indianapolis, the Oakland Raiders head over the giant pond to face off versus a great Bears team. The Bears are down a starting quarterback heading into the game, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they have the best defense in football. The Raiders are going to need a near perfect performance to win this game, here are the four biggest keys to a Raiders win Sunday.
Slowing down Khalil Mack and the Bears pass-rush
Obviously Raider fans are familiar with Khalil Mack. A top five defender in this league vs. a top five right tackle should make for a juicy match up. The Bears defense as a whole is giving up a lowly 6.8 ppg, and Mack is the key to that. The only way Oakland has a shot in London is if they slow down Mack. In order to do so, Trent Brown is going to need to have his best game of the season, and still might need a second blocker to help on passing downs. No team has scored more than 15 points on Chicago this year, so it is vital that Oakland slows down the pass rush to give Carr time to operate.
Prediction – Mack finishes with two sacks. I don’t think he beats Brown like a drum, however he will produce, because that’s what Mack does. I think the Raiders interior offensive line plays very well and slows down the Bears interior pass-rush.
Stopping Tarik Cohen
With Trubisky out, Chase Daniel takes over at quarterback. Daniel should look to Cohen a lot in passing situations, which causes a huge mismatch for the Raiders. Ideally you get Lamarcus Joyner lined up on him as much as possible, however the linebackers will be targeted a lot. Although Cohen only has 14 receptions on the year, The Bears will look to get him heavily involved against Oakland’s depleted linebacker core. The key to this matchup will be how Nicholas Morrow holds up in coverage on him.
Prediction – I think Guenther will know what we all know and have Joyner shadow Cohen the majority of the game. I also believe Morrow is an above average coverage linebacker. Cohen will get 3-4 catches but be held in check by the Raiders.
Ride Josh Jacobs
The Raiders clearly play better when Josh Jacobs gets touches. In two losses Jacobs averaged 11 carries, while averaging 20 carries in victories. Ideally, Oakland would like to give Jacobs even more volume than that. It’s baffled Raider Nation that Jacobs hasn’t received as much in the passing game, I expect that to change Sunday. If the Bears defense has a weakness right now it’s at linebacker, and the Raiders need to exploit that.
Jacobs is averaging 4.6 yards a carry right now, and is the Raiders most dynamic offensive player, they need to ride him into the sunset in London on Sunday.
Prediction – Jacobs finishes with 25 carries, 91 yards, and a touchdown. I also expect he will get about five targets in the passing game. He will have a very tough time navigating versus this stout defense, but will break a few long ones.
Limit the Big Play
The Bears Offense is only averaging 15.6 points a game, and haven’t looked great against anyone except for Washington. They do have weapons on offense in Burton, Cohen, Robinson and Montgomery, so the potential for big plays are there. In order to come out on top this weekend, Oakland will need to limit those plays and make Chase Daniel beat them. Daniel has proven he can at least be competitive at the NFL level, but he by no means is an above average NFL quarterback. The Raiders will need to hold Chicago to 13 points or less to have a chance to win this game, so field goals and field position will be a huge factor in this.
Prediction – Chicago will get a big play or two from Allen Robinson, but I think Oakland turns this into a defensive game from the get go. The advantage to me is to Oakland with Daniel taking over with Trubisky.