By Will Strome, from NFLWeather.com
Superbowl XLVII Preview? Arian Foster’s Texans To Attack Brian Urlacher’s Bears.
Only one marquee matchup in week 10 is truly worthy of reworking an entire weekend schedule. The perennial Super Bowl preview will take place in what is likely to be an extremely soggy Soldier Field in Chicago when the Bears host the Houston Texans on Sunday night.
NFLWeather.com forecasts an 80% chance of showers with a possibility for thunderstorms. The low should be in the mid-40s when two of the top defenses clash in an old school smash mouth football game.
The Houston D has been absolutely lights out, tenacious against both the run and the pass. Ranked third in the league, holding the opposition to 285.6 yards per game, they also only give up 203.8 in the air and 81.9 on the ground. But, the Texans (7-1) will lack the rowdy noise factor backing them that they normally get at home when the roof is closed. Even more so stormy Solder Field will cause much trouble for both offenses.
Chicago will have their hands full juggling both the downpour and the stingy Texans defense. The Bears (7-1) will obviously want to establish the running game to control the clock, even if they struggle to break a big gain. Together, Matt Forte and Michael Bush average over 128 rushing yards per game and will get plenty of touches with the former taking the majority. If both can produce half of Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin break out from last week (272 yards and four TD’s), the Bears will be fine.
If the Chicago run game fails to sustain clock-consuming drives, it will be Jay Cutler who will make or break the Bears. No quarterback is more inconsistent and frustrating than Cutler. In his defense, the Bears line has surrendered 28 sacks totaling 200 yards; but when he’s on, he’s on. Last week against the Tennessee Titans, Cutler and company cruised to a 51-20 victory with the Snake finding old sidekick Brandon Marshall for three touchdowns. In the team’s lone loss to the hated Green Bay Packers, Cutler threw four costly interceptions. In a rain game where field position is everything, even one turnover could be the guillotine.
The same goes Houston QB Matt Schaub. The University of Virginia alumnus rarely turns the ball over, only tossing four picks on the season. But, the Bears defense is tops at forcing turnovers, having returned seven interceptions for scores in the last eight games.
In a rain game, Arian Foster is the Texan’s biggest threat. Averaging four yards a carry might not seem like much for Foster, but his presence is a focus for any defense. With Ben Tate still hurt, Foster will grind out well over 20 carries in the mud and will look to add to his 11 scores on the season.
That means the kicking game is crucial with reliable boots on both sidelines. Chicago’s Robbie Gould is used to Soldier’s surface and is 16 of 18 and flawless from over 50 yards. The Texan’s Shayne Graham hasn’t had many weather related issues and is 13 of 15 on the year and 50% from over 50. But, don’t bet on the Texans to attempt any long kicks this Sunday.
It’s hard to imagine either side pulling away by a substantial margin similar to Houston’s week seven rout of the Baltimore Ravens, 43-13. But torrential downpours could be the driving force in either side being able to take care of themselves, let alone the opposition.