Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Charlie Bernstein of, go Behind Enemy Lines to break down Sunday's Week 17 tilt between the hungry Bears and the talented Texans in Houston. Let's finish this three-part series with some matchups to watch and final predictions.

RB Matt Forte vs. LB Xavier Adibi:
Forte is the main cog that makes the Bears offense run. He can run inside with power, has enough speed to get outside, and is a great weapon in the passing game.

Although Forte and Adibi are both rookies, Forte has had much more experience and success on the field, and it may be up to Adibi to keep Forte from turning 5-yard gains into 35-yard gains.

LT John St. Clair vs. DE Mario Williams: The Texans have had big trouble getting consistent play from their front four since entering the league as an expansion team, but Williams is already a Pro Bowler and an absolute terror off the edge. The former No. 1-overall pick tends to get his sacks in bunches, as he's had at least two in four games this season. But Williams has gone sackless in six of his last seven contests, although he did explode for three of them against the Jaguars' pitiful offensive line back in Week 13.

St. Clair appears to have worn down after holding up well against Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers back in September, so look for fullback Jason McKie and tight end Desmond Clark to lend a helping hand on Williams from time to time.

WR Andre Johnson vs. CB Charles Tillman:
Johnson can do everything as a receiver, whether it be run great routes over the middle, deep posts, or the nine route. Johnson is even a great blocker.

TE Owen Daniels
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Texans star is coming off his worst game in years, as Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha helped to keep him to just two receptions for 19 yards. Look for the NFL's leader in receiving yards to bounce back in a big way, as the Texans know that they must get Johnson the football to have success.

TE Owen Daniels vs. LB Nick Roach and S Craig Steltz: Daniels is the best tight end in the NFL you've never heard of, as the Naperville Central High School graduate has caught 67 passes for 825 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season. Roach has become the permanent starter at strong-side linebacker after injuries and ineffectiveness from Hunter Hillenmeyer, but he hasn't proven to be much of an upgrade yet in terms of pass coverage. Steltz will be taking over in the starting lineup for Mike Brown, who finishes yet another campaign on injured reserve, and has awfully big shoes to fill.

Johnson will command a ton of attention from Tillman, and the rest of the defensive backfield for that matter, but Daniels is the security blanket that helps the Texans move the chains with consistency.

... they are the better team in the red zone, and they don't turn the ball over. Houston has won the turnover battle in just 16 games since 2006, and they've won 13 of those games. Houston hasn't had problems moving the ball against any defense this season, but they've repeatedly shot themselves in the leg (all apologies to Plaxico Burress) when they've reached the red zone. Although it's great for fantasy owners that have Texans kicker Kris Brown, it's not good for the win/loss record. Houston needs to be able to run the ball effectively in goal-line situations, something that they've often abandoned this season.

LB Nick Roach
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

... they get down early. Although Houston has as many offensive weapons as any team in the league, they don't come from behind often to win games. Losing teams find ways to lose, and the Texans haven't had a winning season in franchise history. That means that this team will find a way to lose if they get down early. Whether it be from inexplicable turnovers to dumb penalties to guys blowing coverages, this team has done it all.

... the Texans live up to their reputation as a turnover-riddled attack and give up a few freebies. Houston is the No. 3 offense in the NFL based on total yardage, although they're only 20th in scoring at 22.3 points per game because of turnovers and red-zone futility. Chicago's version of the Cover 2 has turned into somewhat of a bend-but-don't-break approach, so shutting down Steve Slaton on the ground will mean more passing attempts for Matt Schaub – which should lead to a pick or two.

... they spend too much time watching the scoreboard and not focusing on the task at hand. Chicago wins the NFC North with a victory over Houston coupled with a Minnesota loss to the defending-champion Giants, but the Midway Monsters might be distracted since both games are scheduled for a noon kickoff Sunday. Several players have admitted in the days leading up to this game that they won't be able to help themselves from checking the score of the Vikings game from time to time, but it's all a moot point if they don't take care of their Texans business first.

Charlie Bernstein:
The Bears have their playoff lives on the line and they won't know if they're eliminated at kickoff, so I fully expect them to give their best effort. Houston only has an 8-8 record to play for, which would be a big thing for the franchise to have its second consecutive non-losing season. Most everything, at least motivationally speaking, points in the Bears favor in this one, but I can't help but feel that Houston will play spoiler in their home finale. Brown hits on a 53-yard field goal as the clock expires to give the Texans a victory ... TEXANS 29, BEARS 28.

John Crist: Nobody should be surprised that the Bears swept the three-game homestand they just finished, not with the way the Jaguars, Saints, and Packers are playing on the road down the stretch. But Sunday's date in Houston will be a different story, as the Texans were hitting on all cylindars before last week's head-scratching loss to the Raiders and present some matchup problems on both sides of the ball. Chicago has stayed alive on a wing and a prayer for a while now, and their luck is bound to run out ... TEXANS 26, BEARS 20.

To go back and read Part I, where Charlie answers five questions from John, Click Here. For Part II, where John answers five questions from Charlie, Click Here.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report. Charlie Bernstein is the Editor in Chief of

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