* Anquan Boldin, Cardinals receiver A steal in the second round of the draft, the rookie from Florida State has 66 catches for 999 yards -- both good for third in the NFL. Boldin has six touchdowns and leads the league in third-down receptions with 28.
* Charles Tillman/Jerry Azumah, Bears cornerbacks
Tillman, a fellow rookie, likes to face the best and will get another crack at one of the league's emerging stars. Tillman has three picks, but will have his work cut out, as well as Azumah, who will likely see his share of Boldin deep and across the middle.
Another key match-up
* Anthony Thomas, Bears running back
It's been a few weeks since A-Train busted loose for over 100 yards. Thomas had just 60 yards on the ground against Denver last week, but will be facing a less talented group in the Cardinals. Thomas holds the keys to opening up the Bears' offense.
* Ronald McKinnon, Cardinals middle linebacker
The team's leading tackler and veteran has been the heart and soul of the Cardinals' defense since he took over the starting job in the middle of the 1998 season. McKinnon's job is to spy on Thomas and keep him from breaking big runs and going for over 100 yards.
* Cardinals: RB Marcel Shipp (toe) is probable; CB Renaldo Hill (ankle) is questionable. * Bears: S Mike Brown (leg), is probable; G Chris Villarrial (side) is questionable/ QB Chris Chandler (shoulder), S Mike Green (groin) and TE Dustin Lyman (abdomen) are out.
In rolling up 200 yards on the ground against the Bears last Sunday, the Broncos set a Chicago opponent record with a yards per carry average of 9.5. The previous mark was 9.1 by the New York Jets in a Bears win at the Meadowlands on Sept. 25, 1994. Against Denver, Chicago was victimized by three plays that accounted for 131 yards (43.7 yards per carry), while predominantly holding their own on the other 18 rushing plays that gained 69 yards (3.8 avg.). The 200 yards rushing was the second-highest allowed by the Bears this season (202 by Green Bay on Sept. 29).
Three of the top six rushers in NCAA Division I-AA history will be on the playing surface of Soldier Field Sunday when the Bears take on the Cardinals. Chicago starting cornerback/kick returner Jerry Azumah will face-off against Arizona running back Marcel Shipp, while Bears backup running back Adrian Peterson (injured reserve) will be on the sideline. Peterson, from Georgia Southern, became the all-time NCAA Division I-AA rushing leader with 6,543 yards after passing the 6,193 yards that Azumah compiled at New Hampshire. Shipp ranks sixth all-time with 5,383 yards gained at Massachusetts. All three were first-team All-America running backs in 1998.
* The first-ever meeting between the two was Decatur Staleys 7, Chicago Cardinals 6 on Nov. 28, 1920.
* The Bears maintain a 54-26-6 advantage in the series.
* The Bears and Cards played at least twice per season from 1924-53, yet have met only four times from 1985 to the present.
* The Cardinals set a then-franchise record attendance of 71,233 in Sun Devil Stadium on Oct. 28, 1990 against the Bears.
* The 71,233 in attendance that game is still the largest crowd in the history of the series.
The Bears and Cardinals boast the oldest regular-season rivalry in NFL history, dating back to the 1920s when the two shared the Windy City.