Bears RT Kyle Long (left) and Raiders DE Khalil Mack will clash in a head-to-head matchup this weekend.
Dennis Wierzbicki/Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor
The Chicago Bears (0-3) will try to pick up their first win on Sunday, when the Oakland Raiders (2-1) visit Soldier Field. These aren’t the same old Raiders; this team has some lethal weapons and they’re sure to be on display in Week 4. Will the young and talented Raiders beat down the winless Bears, or will Chicago rise to the occassion for the first time under head coach John Fox?
Here are three keys to the game for both the Raiders and the Bears.
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1. Get Amari Cooper the damn ball
There’s no other way to put it. Cooper absolutely toyed with Pro Bowler Joe Haden last weekend, becoming the first Raiders rookie with consecutive 100-yard games in 22 years. Chicago’s defense is weak in the secondary; expect a third game with Cooper over the century mark.
2. Show Jimmy Clausen some different looks
The Seahawks shut out the Bears’ backup in Week 3 with some stifling man coverage and creative pass rushes. Oakland comes to town with a defense that’s schematically identical — defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. brought it with him from Seattle this offseason. With a week to look at the tape, it’d be smart to throw some wrinkles into the game-plan.
3. Try something — anything — to cover Martellus Bennett
The Raiders defense has made fantasy stars out of every tight end they’ve faced in 2015 — including guys named Crockett Gillmore are Gary Barnidge. Martellus Bennett is an actual Pro Bowler. He’ll have a field day against linebackers and safeties if the Raiders don’t make some necessary adjustments.
1. Be prepared for Amari Cooper
The Bears can’t take a wait-and-see approach to defending Amari Cooper. As a rookie, Cooper is already one of the league’s most dynamic pass catchers this season with 290 yards (eighth most in NFL). The Bears need a plan to stop Cooper before he gets to Chicago, for he’ll make an unprepared secondary pay with his reliable hands and nifty runs after the catch.
2. Keep Khalil Mack out of the backfield
Like Cooper on offense, Khalil Mack is the young player to watch when the Raiders are on defense. Mack, who was the fifth-overall pick in last year’s draft, started heating with two sacks against the Cleveland Browns. At left defensive end, Mack will rush against Bears right tackle Kyle Long, who has made the Pro Bowl at guard each of the past two seasons. It should be an individual matchup for the ages.
3. Take more chances on offense
The Bears are never going to win a game punting on every possession, like they did last week in a shutout loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Matt Forte is a talented running back, but Chicago’s offense can’t count on him to be a one-man show. When Oakland’s defense stacks the box to stop the run, the Bears must test the man-to-man coverage and take some shots downfield.