Considering the flurry of news that’s come out regarding the Chicago Bears over the last few days, it’s easy to forget that they’re playing a football game on Thanksgiving.
The matchup against the Detroit Lions seems like an afterthought given the uncertainty with Matt Nagy’s future and the fact Justin Fields won’t be able to see the field given his injury, but the game still must be played.
Barring a rare tie, one winless streak will be coming to an end to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday. Here are my bold predictions for Thursday’s divisional matchup.
Andy Dalton plays mistake-free football
AP Photo/David Banks
With Fields out due to the bruised ribs he suffered against the Baltimore Ravens, Andy Dalton gets the call this week to make his first start since week two. Dalton threw two touchdowns in relief of Fields and nearly won the game for the Bears, before the Ravens orchestrated an improbable game-winning drive.
Dalton has been efficient in his limited playing time this year, completing 48-of-73 passes for 471 yards, three touchdowns, and one pick. While not as physically gifted as Fields, Dalton does seem to play well in Nagy’s system and faces a Lions team that doesn’t generate too many takeaways. Dalton also was the least-aggressive quarterback in week 11, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The veteran quarterback won’t be spectacular on Thursday, but he’ll play mistake-free football thanks to a heavy dose of the running game.
David Montgomery posts his third 100-yard rushing game of the season
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
It’s been awhile since David Montgomery had his last 100-yard game. In fact, it came against these same Lions in early October before he hurt his knee. Montgomery missed the next four games while on injured reserve, but returned a few weeks ago to the starting lineup. Since then, however, he hasn’t had the same production prior to his knee injury.
In the two games since returning from injured reserve, Montgomery had just 27 carries for 121 yards. It’s the worst stat line, but it’s a far cry from what he was doing earlier in the season. But now he gets to face the Lions and their porous run defense again. They’re allowing over 140 yards on the ground per game and have been gashed by the Steelers’ Najee Harris and the Browns Nick Chubb in consecutive weeks.
With Dalton starting again, I’d bet Nagy has a conservative gameplan ready for the offense that features Montgomery. He’ll get back to the century mark this week.
Kindle Vildor records his first interception
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret that Bears cornerback Kindle Vildor is struggling mightily this season. The second-year cornerback has allowed five touchdowns and quarterbacks have a 138.8 rating when targeting him. He’s a liability in the secondary right now and could see his playing time diminish? So why in the world am I picking him to record first interception in his career? Because he’s facing the Lions and their struggling quarterbacks. Plus, it has to happen sometime, right?
Vildor will likely be heavily targeted by either Jared Goff or Tim Boyle, depending on who the starter winds up being. At times, he’s in good position to make a play on the ball, he just needs to cut down on the penalties. A turnover won’t make up for his below-average play this season, but it could give the young defensive back confidence as the season winds down.