5 things to watch in Bears’ matchup vs. Ravens and a prediction

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The Chicago Bears will host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, where Chicago will be looking for avoid a fifth straight loss. But a talented Baltimore team awaits them.

This can be a winnable game for the Bears, but they’ll need strong performances from all phases if they hope to pull off the upset.

From Justin Fields’ continued development to the absences of Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson, here are five things we’re watching for in the Bears’ Week 11 matchup — and a final prediction!

How do the Bears respond coming off the bye?

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

With an additional week of rest, Chicago is looking to snap a four-game losing streak coming off a much-needed bye week. Historically, the Bears don’t respond well coming off the bye week, especially in the Matt Nagy era. Chicago hasn’t won a game the week following a bye since 2013, and they’ve never accomplished the feat under Nagy. It certainly doesn’t help that they’ll be without several key starters, including outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who’s having season-ending foot surgery. As for game day, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) has already been ruled out while receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) is doubtful. Now, we’ll really see what Nagy’s team is made of as they welcome in a talented Ravens team as all the chips are stacked against them.

How does Justin Fields answer his best game?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a brutal loss to the Steelers, Bears fans were left feeling encouraged following rookie quarterback Justin Fields’ most impressive performance through his first seven starts. Fields looked poised, confident and decisive on the road in prime time against one of the NFL’s best defenses. And Fields stepped up in the biggest moment of his young career, leading his team on what could’ve and should’ve been the game-winning touchdown drive. While Fields got off to a rough start during his rookie season, he’s gaining confidence and improving with each passing game. Now, all eyes will be on Fields and whether he can keep that momentum going, where hopefully the Bears allow him to test a vulnerable Ravens secondary.

Can the Bears defense contain Lamar Jackson?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears defense will be without a couple of key starters, including Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks, which isn’t encouraging considering Lamar Jackson is coming to town. Jackson is one of the NFL’s most dynamic quarterbacks, where he has the ability to run all over defenses and take advantage of some weaknesses downfield. Jackson is 12-0 against NFC teams and 25-2 when facing an opponent for the first time in the regular season or postseason, which doesn’t bode well for the Bears. While Chicago’s defense has been the strength of this team during the Matt Nagy era and got off to a solid start this season, the defense has fallen by the wayside over the last few games. And unless the defense can find a way to bring the pressure on Jackson and contain him, it could be a long afternoon.

How does the Bears pass rush respond without Khalil Mack?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago’s pass rush has been one of the strengths of the defense this season, where they’ve been among the best pass rushes in the NFL through nine weeks. But with Khalil Mack done for the year with season-ending foot surgery, the onus falls on Robert Quinn, who has a team-high 6.5 sacks, and second-year pro Trevis Gipson to help bring the pressure on Lamar Jackson. The Bears are now down two edge rushers after Jeremiah Attaochu suffered a season-ending torn pec injury back in Week 5. In the last two games without Mack, the Bears have totaled four sacks — all of them coming against the Steelers. We’ll see if they can get some help from the edge and interior to contain one of the NFL’s most dangerous quarterbacks.

Can Darnell Mooney step up in Allen Robinson's absence?

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Just when wide receiver Allen Robinson was starting to get going this season, he’s sidelined with a hamstring injury that has him doubtful for the Ravens game. While Darnell Mooney has been the most productive receiver for Chicago this season, he’s had the luxury of having Robinson on the field to be the focal point. Now, Baltimore’s defense will key-in on the second-year wideout, where Mooney will be looking to step up in Robinson’s absence. The Bears found success in the passing game in the second half against the Steelers, and they’ll be looking to continue that without Robinson.

Prediction: Ravens 30, Bears 27

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Ravens have been inconsistent this season, with wins over good Chiefs and Chargers teams and losing to the Dolphins and needing a miracle field goal to beat the Lions. So this is definitely a winnable game. But, like in many other games, the Bears are going to need strong outings from all phases in order to get it done.

And considering Chicago has lost four straight games and hasn’t won a game coming off the bye week since 2013, there’s not a lot of faith that it’s going to happen Sunday at Soldier Field. But that doesn’t mean the Bears can’t keep it competitive.

Weirdly enough, I’ve got more faith in the Bears offense than the Bears defense in this game, which isn’t something I thought I’d say after their rough start. But both units appear to be trending in opposite directions after the Week 9 loss.

Justin Fields continues to gain more confidence with each passing game, and this matchup has all of the makings for a potential shootout, where we could see Chicago get more aggressive in the passing game as they work to keep pace with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. With Allen Robinson’s status in question, this could be another game where the tight ends are involved in the passing game, including Cole Kmet, who’s coming off a career game vs. Steelers.

The defense could be without three key starters in Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson for this game, and when you’re facing a quarterback like Jackson, that doesn’t bode well. After a solid start, the Bears defense has fallen by the wayside, and it could be another repeat of the 49ers game if Sean Desai doesn’t find the perfect gameplan to defend Jackson and his offensive weapons.

While I think the Bears offense will have their best showing of the season, it won’t be enough against Jackson and the Ravens, who reach the 30-point mark and send Chicago to five straight losses and 3-7.

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