Mon, 29 Nov 2021

Everything You Need To Know: Ravens vs. Bears

Baltimore Ravens
21 Nov 2021, 22:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown Basics

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Soldier Field

TV: WJZ Channel 13 (Baltimore), WUSA Channel 9 (Washington), CBS crew Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) and 98 Rock (97.9 FM), Ravens crew Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Femi Ayanbadejo (analyst); Sports USA, Larry Kahn (play-by-play), Mark Carrier (analyst)

History

The Ravens have never won in Chicago (0-3). The Bears have a 4-2 edge in the series, which includes the last meeting in 2017 when Chicago prevailed, 27-24, in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium. Justin Tucker kicked three field goals in the game and Michael Campanaro sent the game to overtime with a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final two minutes of regulation.

Stakes

The Ravens can maintain sole possession of first place in the AFC North with a victory. Baltimore's 12-game winning streak against NFC teams is on the line, as is Lamar Jackson's perfect record (12-0) as a starter against the NFC. The Bears are on a four-game losing streak and need a victory after their bye week if they're going to salvage their season.

Key Storylines

How will the Ravens bounce back from their performance in Miami?

The 22-10 loss to the Dolphins last Thursday was a shocker, because the Ravens looked so discombobulated offensively. They had no answers for Miami's blitz packages and Jackson was bottled up (nine rushes, 39 yards) on the ground. Jackson is one of the NFL's most blitzed quarterbacks and the Bears may blitz more than they normally do after watching Miami's success. If that happens, it will be interesting to see if the Ravens have found answers during a week when Jackson missed two days of practice due to illness.

Has Baltimore solved its problem with blown coverages?

Defensive mistakes that have left players out of position have haunted the Ravens all season, and they gave up two big plays against Miami that hurt them badly. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said some difficult conversations were had this week, because players who don't normally make mistakes have been victimized. The Bears are ranked next-to-last in the NFL in total offense, but the Dolphins didn't have a play that gained more than 50 yards all season until they faced the Ravens. If Baltimore eliminates its coverage errors, the Bears may have trouble sustaining drives against a Ravens defense that is second in the NFL in defending against third-down conversions (31.8 percent).

Can the Ravens running backs get rolling?

Latavius Murray (ankle) practiced all week and could return after a three-game absence to join Devonta Freeman and Ty'Son Williams in the running back rotation. The Ravens released veteran running back Le'Veon Bell during the week, and they have rotated backs looking for a combination that can consistently complement Jackson in the running game. The Bears are ranked 22nd against the run (122.8 yards per game), so there may be opportunities for the Baltimore's running backs to find a rhythm.

Matchups to Watch

Ravens offensive line vs. Bears front seven

The loss of Khalil Mack, who is out for the year with a foot injury, will hurt Chicago, and starting defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) is out as well. However, the Bears still have two effective pass rushers in defensive end Robert Quinn (6.5 sacks) and linebacker Roquan Smith (three sacks). Whether starting right tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle) returns or not, there will be pressure on Baltimore's offensive line to protect Jackson much better than last week.

Bears QB Justin Fields vs. Ravens defense

Fields is coming off the best game of his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing 17 of 29 passes for 291 yards. But he has also thrown eight interceptions to just four touchdown passes, showing he's a rookie quarterback with plenty of talent but much to learn. Fields has impressive arm strength and can make the Ravens pay if they leave someone open deep in the secondary. He's also a dangerous runner, and Baltimore must be wary of his ability to make plays with his legs. However, facing a team that shows as many defensive looks as Baltimore is challenging for any young quarterback. This will be another test for Fields and for the Ravens' defense.

Ravens front seven vs. Bears rushing attack

Chicago has a solid one-two running back combination in David Montgomery (372 yards, 4.2 yards per carry) and Khalil Herbert (364 yards, 4.3 yards per carry). While the Bears' passing game has struggled, Chicago ranks fifth in the league in rushing yards per game (136.6). The Ravens' tackling improved against Miami, and it will need to stay solid in Chicago, especially with defensive tackle Brandon Williams ruled out for another game. The Bears may turn heavily to their running game, especially if the weather is inclement, hoping to control time of possession and keep Jackson off the field.

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