A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Denver Broncos.
1. Work the field underneath the secondary
The Broncos have one of, if not the best secondary in the NFL. They have nine interceptions and 14 forced fumbles, tops in the league. Jay Cutler has been playing his best and most efficient football since his Pro Bowl season with Denver, and he’s only thrown five interceptions. Something here has to give. Cutler would be wise to avoid taking too many chances downfield, and I’m sure offensive coordinator Adam Gase will make sure the Bears work the field in front of the Broncos defensive backs.
2. Throw a variety of looks at Brock Osweiler
With Peyton Manning ailing, the Broncos will turn to fourth-year pro Osweiler for his first career start Sunday at Soldier Field. Although he might not admit it, there surely is a lot of pressure on him. The Broncos have championship aspirations and a defense ready to win now. And from a personal goal, Osweiler wants to prove he’s ready to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback of both the future and the present. Making his first career start on the road is not an easy task, particularly against an innovative defensive coordinator like Vic Fangio. Expect the Bears to show a variety of different defensive looks to Osweiler to see if he can handle them. Fangio will have Osweiler guessing where the pressure will come from next.
3. Keep pounding the rock
In conjunction with throwing short and intermediate passes, the Bears need to keep leaning on Jeremy Langford and the run game to keep the Broncos’ aggressive defense honest. They need to avoid falling into third-and-long situations because that’s when the Broncos will turn up the heat on Cutler and feast on turnovers. Most of all, running the football keeps the clock ticking, the chains moving, and the Broncos’ defense puffing hard on the field.
4. Capitalize on field position
The Broncos defense is the only defensive unit in the NFL to average less than 300 yards allowed per game, giving up only 277.3. In other words, yards come at a premium price and are not easily attainable. The Bears have to be mindful of field position in this one, as every yard counts. Pat O’Donnell’s punts have to be deep, coverage units need to swarm and not allow big returns, the defense has to record more three-and-outs, and the offense can’t start from deep in its own territory. Most of all, if Bears get the ball somewhere near midfield, they have to finish drives with points, even if just a field goal.