Bears-Texans Breakdown

The Bears have allowed more sacks than any other team in the NFL. The offensive line must find a way to protect Chad Hutchinson against a weak Houston pass rush and give him time in the pocket.

BEARS GAME PLAN
The Bears definitely will run more than the 14 times they did last week, when their inability to establish a viable ground attack led to a barrage of zone blitzes from the Jaguars that their injury-depleted offensive line couldn't stop. They will see more of the same this week from the Texans if they cannot average more than the 2.0 yards per attempt they did last week before abandoning the run. QB Chad Hutchinson has shown good ability to make plays on the move, so the Bears might roll him out on some plays this week to help prevent more sacks.

BEARS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
The Bears' deep secondary, which has been a strong point since Charles Tillman returned from a fractured knee, vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson, who has 71 catches for 1,052 yards, more than twice as many as Chicago second-leading receiver.

Bears' leaky offensive line, which has allowed the most sacks in the NFL, vs. the Texans' weak pass rush, which has the fewest sacks in the NFL.

INJURY IMPACT
In addition to MLB Brian Urlacher (hamstring), offensive tackle John Tait (knee), fullback Bryan Johnson (foot), safety Todd Johnson (ankle), cornerback Todd McMillon (hamstring) and safety Bobby Gray (quad) all missed practice on Wednesday.

Urlacher has virtually no chance of playing, and Tait is a lot closer to doubtful than questionable.

McMillon is doubtful, Gray is probable and the rest are legitimately questionable.

TE Desmond Clark (shoulder, ribs) is probable after missing last week following his best game of the season, when he had season highs with six catches and 58 yards.

TEXANS GAMEPLAN
The Texans actually face a team with more problems on offense. Chicago has scored 22 touchdowns this season, third worst in the league, and is averaging 15.3 points. During their 1-5 skid the Texans are averaging 15.2 points per game. Field position could be important in the game with both teams expected to do a lot of punting. Houston must establish the run early with Domanick Davis, who has eight TDs in the last six games, and not be hesitant to throw downfield to Andre Johnson and Co. It's tricky to throw on the Bears, who are among the league leaders with 16 interceptions. Houston is known to give up chunks of rushing yardage, and the Bears have an adequate 1-2 punch in Thomas Jones and Anthony Thomas. Getting pressure on Bears quarterback Chad Hutchinson is a must if the Texans are to have any chance of winning on the road.

TEXANS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Texans LT Seth Wand vs. Bears DEs Alex Brown:

Wand was pushed around by the quicker, more physical Dwight Freeney last week and he could get a similar dose again Sunday against Brown. Brown leads the Bears with career-high six sacks. At 262 pounds, Brown is relatively undersized for an end, but his speed more than make up for the weight difference. If QB David Carr is constantly being harassed, the Texans may be forced to move a tight end to help block. Freeney said he was surprised to find himself mostly going one-on-one against Wand last week. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who had 15 sacks for the Miami Dolphins last season, has only 51/2 this season.

--Texans pass rush vs. Bears QB Chad Hutchinson:
Houston's pass-rush doesn't scare anyone, but even the Texans might be able to get pressure on Chad Hutchinson, the fourth quarterback to play for the Bears this season. The Bears' injury-ravaged offensive line allowed a season-high six sacks to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and are on pace to allow 64, their most ever. Hutchinson is not very mobile, so expect the Texans to go with a combination of blitzes like they used last week against the Colts' Peyton Manning. Houston is next-to-last in the NFL in sacks (18).

--Texans RB Domanick Davis vs. Bears run defense:
Davis has 472 yards and eight touchdowns in the last five games, which includes 128 yards last week against the Colts. After a slow start, Davis needs only 168 yards for his second straight 1,000-yard season. Chicago is 24th against the run, allowing 132.8 yards per game, but has played much of the season without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Urlacher is not expected to play Sunday with a hamstring injury.

INJURY IMPACT
-- The Texans' special-teams unit has been hit hard by injuries this season. The latest blow was the loss of linebacker Troy Evans for the rest of the season with a high-ankle sprain. Evans joins Jason Bell (forearm) and safety Ramon Walker (knee) as the top three playmakers on special teams from last season to be placed on injured reserve.

-- Defensive back Jason Simmons is expected to get a second straight start at free safety in place of Marcus Coleman, who is out for the rest of the season with a sprained shoulder. The plan is for Simmons and veteran Marlon McCree to split time at the position.

-- With inside linebacker Jay Foreman out for the season, the Texans have been tinkering with their linebackers the past two weeks. DaShon Polk is handling most of Foreman's duties at inside linebacker, but coach Dom Capers has been working Kailee Wong inside and using Antwan Peek at right outside linebacker.

-- The health problems of third-string running back Tony Hollings have forced the Texans to activate only two running backs for most of the past month. Domanick Davis and Jonathan Wells are the only two players in the backfield. Hollings missed time earlier this season with a bruised knee and has spent most of the past four weeks on the sideline with a hamstring injury.


Bear Report Top Stories