The Chicago Bears (3-8) will face off against the New York Jets (6-4) on Sunday and look to break their four-game losing streak.
It will be challenging if the Bears are without quarterback Justin Fields, who is nursing a left shoulder injury and whose status is up in the air.
The Jets have one of the NFL’s best defenses and only allow 105 yards rushing in the last five games. Fields has been the Bears leading rusher over the last three games, helping propel Chicago to the NFL’s best rushing attack.
It will be a difficult game even with a healthy Fields and more challenging if he plays injured or sits out.
While it’s never easy to win in the NFL, here are three things the Bears’ offense needs to do to beat the Jets in Week 12.
Protect Justin Fields (or whoever starts at quarterback)
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The Jets’ defense is one of the best at generating pressure on the quarterback. The defense’s strength is in the front four allowing New York to create elite-level pressure without blitzing often. The Jets rank 20th in blitz rate but have the sixth most sacks in the NFL and seventh in total pressures.
Defensive tackles Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers have built a reputation for hitting the quarterback. The two have combined for 32 quarterback hits and 11.5 sacks. On the edge, Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson contribute another 20 quarterback hits, six sacks, and eight tackles for loss.
The Bears are still one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL (allowing a league-most 40 sacks) and will have a hard time stopping the Jets’ defensive front from getting to the quarterback, whether that’s Fields or Trevor Siemian.
Find a way to score without Justin Fields
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It will be a long day for Chicago if Fields is out of the game with a shoulder injury. The Jets have allowed the ninth fewest points in the NFL and have held five teams to 17 points or less. Offenses have struggled to move the ball against the Jets. New York’s defense is third best, only allowing 4.8 yards per play this season.
In addition, the defense has improved over the last five games; against the run, the Jets have improved from 114 yards per game to 105 yards per game. So, with the Jets barely allowing 100 yards on the ground, the Bears will have a hard time without Fields, their leading rusher.
It may require creativity from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, but it will be a long day if a run-first offense can’t run.
Score in the second half by throwing the ball
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The Jets play close games. New York’s point differential is only nine in their six wins this season. The team has won four games by a touchdown or less. However, in losses, the point differential is -10.5 points as teams continue scoring in the second half.
Of the six touchdowns given up in the second half of losing efforts, five have come from throwing the football, and nearly all were while the opponent was in the red zone. In the last three weeks, the Bears have thrown four touchdown passes in the second half.
While it’s probably due to game script and trailing, Chicago is scoring more in the second half (15 touchdowns) than in the first half (12 touchdowns), so they can pull it off against the Jets.