With the Arizona Cardinals hosting the Chicago Bears for their home finale, we have a matchup of two struggling teams. Both are playing very well defensively, but offensively they are two of the worst teams. Both have taken a similar trajectory through the season. Arizona began 4-0 then lost nine straight before knocking off the Detroit Lions last week to stand at 5-9. The Bears, after cruising to a 7-1 start, have stumbled to 8-6 and are dangerously close to falling out of the playoff race.
These two teams are similar in how they play. They rely on their defenses and really struggle offensively. Arizona has the worst offense in the game and the Bears are ranked 29th overall, gaining just over 305 yards per game. However, where the Cardinals will find a more difficult matchup, Chicago runs the ball well, having the 12th best rushing offense, led by Matt Forte's 903 yards. Their passing offense is 28th in the league, but they have one big threat in receiver Brandon Marshall. he has caught 107 balls for nearly 1400 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Arizona has done pretty much nothing offensively. Ryan Lindley will start at quarterback, but he has yet to throw for a touchdown. In fact, he holds the record for most throws to start a career without a touchdown pass at 141.
Defensively, it is another story.
Arizona boasts the 11th best overall defense, led by their fourth ranked pass defense. They are only ranked 28th against the run. The have picked off 22 passes, most in the league and are in the top five in turnovers caused.
Chicago has caused the most turnovers in the league with 36, good for a +14 turnover margin. Their defense is fifth overall and sixth against the pass.
On paper, this does not look good.
In the return game, both teams have the two players with four career punt return touchdowns. Neither Patrick Peterson for the Cardinals nor Devin Hester for the Bears have found the end zone this year. But both are a threat every time they touch the ball.
These two teams have games dating back to 1920. The Bears have dominated completely in this rivalry. The Bears lead 55-27-6 overall. However, the Cardinals hold a slight 14-13 edge at home.
They last played in 2009 -- a 41-21 Cardinals victory. The game was tied 7-7 until the Cards put up 27 straight points. Kurt Warner threw for five touchdowns in that game, but it was more known for when Matt Leinart, coming in to relieve Warner in garbage time, had to be taken back out on favor of Warner after he threw one pass was was picked off.
The time before that was a Monday Night Football game in which Arizona had a 20 point lead, only to have the Bears rally on a series of a terrible turn of events that ended up with a 24-23 Cardinals loss and a Dennis Green blowup after the game. The Bears would make it to the Super Bowl that season.
No one on Arizona has played for the Bears, but there is one member of the Bears that knows the Cardinals well. That would be backup quarterback Josh McCown, who was the starting quarterback for the Cardinals many years ago. He started 22 games for the Cardinals over four seasons and was an Arizona draft pick.
This has all the making of an awful matchup for the Cardinals. They already cannot do much on offense and will be up against a great defense. Likewise, while the Cards boast a very good defense, their strength is not stopping the run, which Chicago does decently well.
Final score: Bears 16, Cardinals 3
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