The Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears game features two of the most physically gifted quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. Lamar Jackson is the most unique quarterback of our time, and Justin Fields is a Madden Create-A-Player. But the biggest storyline here is the Ravens themselves.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears storylines
Baltimore must put one on the Bears here. They’ve been brutally outscored over the past three weeks. They need to stomp on the throats of a few opponents to get their confidence back.
Nobody has ever possessed the blend of elusiveness, explosion, and passing ability that Jackson has. He’s a special athlete, and early in the season, he seemed to be willing his team to victory. Can those gaudy efficiency numbers return against a flailing Bears defense?
Can Fields survive Wink Martindale’s aggressive defense? The Ravens defensive coordinator is blitzing less this season, but it will be interesting to see how he chooses to attack the rookie.
Does he send extra rushers often and really press Fields? Or does he trust that Baltimore’s front four can beat the bad Bears offensive line?
Will Lamar Jackson reignite his MVP candidacy?
If Jackson doesn’t have a big game against Chicago, it might be tough for him to climb back into the MVP fold. He’s currently fifth in the odds race, but a stinker against what has been arguably the second-worst defense in the league since Week 4 would greatly reduce his chances.
That is if he plays against the Bears. Jackson returned to practice Friday after dealing with an illness. But on Saturday, Baltimore again placed Jackson on the injury report with an illness, and he is questionable for Sunday. If he can go, Jackson could have his own regular-season version of Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game.”
Can Justin Fields keep up his hot streak?
Fields put together a few gems in a row right before the Bears’ bye week. Hopefully, not playing last week helped him prepare for what the Ravens defense is about to throw at him.
In Weeks 8 and 9, only two quarterbacks produced a higher completion percentage over expectation (CPOE). Fields’ 5.5% CPOE is attached to a ridiculous 12.8 air yards on average, too. He’s been slinging it downfield, working the intermediate areas he thrived in while at Ohio State.
Unfortunately, time could be an issue for him this week. Even if Martindale rushes four early as a test, he’ll be quick to adjust if the Bears keep bodies in to protect, and he will adapt. How Fields responds to that adjustment will be critical to how successful he is on Sunday.
Ravens need to take care of a weaker opponent
Even if Jackson can’t go or isn’t as effective, the Ravens must make a statement against a Bears team that struggles on both sides of the ball. Baltimore’s allowed teams like Detroit to stick around, needing Justin Tucker to set an NFL record 66-yard field goal to survive that one. Then, to kick off Week 10, they let Miami beat them on Thursday Night Football.
With a Browns-Steelers-Browns sandwich coming up, it’s imperative that they handle business against Chicago because anything can happen in divisional games.
Betting odds and score prediction
Las Vegas took this game off the board as of early Saturday afternoon. That’s no surprise given Jackson’s health questions. I’d still be surprised to see him not play, given that we saw him look ready on Friday. People do not often get sick, then get better, then get sick again in a 72-hour span.
Is he eating Chipotle or something?
Anyways, since Jackson’s status is unknown, this might be the first time we’ve ever predicted two outcomes. This is a big moment for Pro Football Network!
Ravens vs. Bears Prediction (with Jackson): Ravens 30, Bears 17
Ravens vs. Bears Prediction (without Jackson): Ravens 20, Bears 14
“But Dalton, why would Jackson’s disappearance make the Bears score fewer points?”
Football is weird, and we’ve seen teams have heroic defensive performances without their starting quarterback on the field. A recent example would be the Cowboys, who stepped up against Minnesota without Dak Prescott and then couldn’t defend anything against the Broncos.