The Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears shouldn’t be the most competitive game during the Week 13 slate, but it does hold a lot of storyline intrigue. We won’t see Justin Fields in this one, which once again robs us of watching one of the most athletic QB duels of all time (Lamar Jackson missed the Baltimore/Chicago game). At least we have Kyler Murray back! The NFL has missed his presence dearly.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears storylines
There is no shortage of stories to talk about with this game. We’ve not seen the Cardinals’ franchise QB or their top receiver now since Week 8. Still, they’re 2-1 in that time and in the driver seat for the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
Fields’ injury hurts a lot. This game could have been magical to watch from the quarterback position. It could have been two young talents who can sling it downfield with anybody and run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. But he’s still not ready to return from his rib injury, and there’s no need to rush him back to be beheaded at the gallows that is the Bears’ offensive line.
Can Kyler Murray steal the MVP despite missing three games?
Murray currently sits fifth in the MVP odds at +1200 alongside Patrick Mahomes. Despite missing three games, he’s still in the position to control his own destiny, in my opinion. No quarterback has been consistent throughout the season. Murray’s team is 7-1 in games he starts, and he currently leads the league in expected points added (EPA) per play.
Since 2016, when Next Gen Stats formed, every MVP awardee has led the league in EPA. Now, things get tricky when we talk about Murray’s missed games, but he still has five games to sway voters. If he plays consistently well, and Arizona beats Dallas in Week 17, it could propel him to the top of the odds as the season ends.
DeAndre Hopkins returns from injury
I’m not worried about Murray remaining healthy the rest of the season. It appears from his practice status over the past four weeks that he could probably go if need be, but the Cardinals were being cautious.
Hamstrings, however, always give me the heebie-jeebies. Soft tissue injuries can be so finicky. I hope that DeAndre Hopkins’ injury wasn’t too severe, and they were being cautious here also. The veteran wide receiver has so much value as this team heads into January. It would be foolish to have him come back and risk re-aggravating the injury if he’s not at 100%.
Cardinals path to the No. 1 seed
It might not be easy, but the Cardinals currently control their own destiny in the NFC. The issue is Green Bay having the heads-up tiebreaker and only being a half-game back. It won’t be simple, but Arizona has an excellent path to the top seed.
The Bears, Lions, and Seahawks should provide little resistance along the way to the top seed. However, the Cardinals absolutely MUST take care of business against those lesser opponents. Their other three games come against the Rams, Colts, and Cowboys. That’s a tough road to travel. However, with their recent struggles, the Rams have shown vulnerabilities.
The Colts have won five of their last seven, and their only two losses have come against the Titans and Buccaneers. But the Cardinals have played the run wonderfully and have been opportunistic on defense, a combination that should bode well against the Colts. Dallas boasts a top-five defense and a talented offense, but they’ve struggled to cultivate a winning formula on that side of the ball since Dak Prescott’s calf injury.
The Cardinals are producing as the more well-rounded team at the moment. So, in a too long, didn’t read summation: I believe today that the Cardinals are the best team in the NFC, and they control their own destiny in their quest for the No. 1 seed.
Fields not yet ready
As someone who watches the All-22 film of the rookie QBs each week, I was excited to sit down and watch Fields in his final few weeks starting. Watching the dumpster fires in Jacksonville and New York can be depressing (not a joke, it ruins my mood completely).
Fields wasn’t playing the same clean brand of football as Mac Jones. However, he showed flashes during the Week 7 and 8 games that were the best in the rookie class. Hopefully, he returns healthy and continues to progress in this offense that won’t be around next year in Matt Nagy’s absence. It will show that he can work his way through adversity to pursue growth.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears betting odds and game prediction
- Spread: Cardinals -7.5 (Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Moneyline: Cardinals -320, Bears +250
- Total: 42.5
I’m not advocating betting your mortgage or next month’s rent on the Cardinals to cover because gambling in that way is irresponsible. Please seek help if you’re at that point. Still, I would be shocked if the Cardinals didn’t cover.
There is absolutely no part of this Bears team that should compete with Arizona aside from maybe Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson off the edge against the Cardinals tackles. Maybe Las Vegas sees this as a rusty, ugly win for Arizona, but I think they handle business.
Cardinals vs. Bears Prediction: Cardinals 31, Bears 17