TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 10: Chicago Bears Vs. Houston Texans

Bears
Texans
Julius Peppers. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Julius Peppers. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Quarterback
When Jay Cutler gets protection from his line, he is capable of ripping apart any defense. He has a remarkably strong arm and the kind of quick release that allows him to wait until the last second before whipping the ball into a narrow hole. While he will hold on to the ball too long at times, he can also use his footwork to get out of trouble. Forget the smirk on his face, he has top-of-the-line skills.
Winner Matt Schaub is one of the smartest signal-callers in the league. He is not known for his long strikes downfield, but he can get the ball there. Call him a game manager if you want, but that’s just what Bart Starr was for the dynastic Green Bay Packers. Schaub is accurate, athletic, confident and if he any quarterback is up to the task of handling Chicago’s takeaway-oriented defense, it’s him.
Offense
As well as the Bears have played, they still don’t have an offensive identity. They want to be a big-time offense that throws the ball all over the field, but their best offensive player is versatile Matt Forte. He can get through small holes and accelerate quickly. It’s hard not to be impressed with wideout Brandon Marshall who is coming off a 3-TD game vs. Tennessee. The offensive line lacks consistency.
Winner The Texans play old-school football. If you are going to defend them, you will have to show you can stop Arian Foster running with the ball and that won’t be easy. Foster can run between the tackles and also dart to the outside and make big plays. Andre Johnson is a big-time playmaker who will try to get the best of Bear cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman. Owen Daniels is underrated at the tight end position.
Defense
Winner The Bears’ defense has simply been amazing this year. Their ability to take interceptions and return them for touchdowns separates the best defense in the league by an even wider margin. Charles Tillman is an amazing force when it comes to forcing fumbles. However, the unsung hero of the Chicago defense is defensive end Julius Peppers (5.0 sacks). While he has not been in on the team’s defensive touchdown parade, he is a force on every snap.
The Texans rely on the explosive talent of superb pass-rushing defensive end J.J. Watt. He already has 10.5 sacks and he excels at batting passes down when he doesn’t get to the quarterback. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph can handle top receivers and he will have to handle Marshall. The loss of linebacker Brian Cushing (knee) will hurt against a big-time opponent like the Bears. Bradie James is a big hitter for the Texans.
Special Teams
Winner The Bears got their special teams going in Week Nine against Jacksonville when they blocked a punt for a touchdown and Devin Hester had a brilliant return. Robbie Gould has mastered kicking in windy Soldier Field like few others and he is impervious to pressure.
The Texans like punter Donnie Jones. While he does not have overpowering leg strength, he punts the ball high and he has nailed 13 punts inside the 20. Shayne Graham is a reliable field goal kicker who has made 13-of-15 attempts this year. The Texans have given up both a punt and a kickoff return for touchdowns this season.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

Julius Peppers. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans

This is probably the best matchup of the year to this point and it is extremely close. While the Texans have an edge at quarterback, it is slight. The Bears’ ability to make big plays on defense is not a fluke, but Schaub is a quarterback who would seem to be up to the task. Look for this game to come down to a late score and give the home team a narrow edge.

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