Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our Scout.com experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Amberly Dressler of AZ Red Report, go Behind Enemy Lines for an analysis of Sunday's matchup between the Cardinals and Bears in Chicago.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: BEARS OFFENSE VS. CARDINALS DEFENSE
QB Jay Cutler vs. DE Calais Campbell:
The second-year player is chomping at the bit. He's been the breakout star of the season, and his youth, size and overall athletic ability should make him a shoe-in to get after Cutler. Campbell has 3.0 sacks, and his 6-8, 290-pound frame will allow him to step in and disrupt Cutler.

WR Devin Hester vs. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Two of the most gifted athletes in the NFL, Hester is starting to come into his own as Chicago's primary receiver and Rodgers-Cromartie can be a Pro Bowler if he becomes more disciplined. Much more than just a speed threat and return man, Hester is proving he can run the entire route tree and has recorded no less than six receptions in each of his last three games. Rodgers-Cromartie picked off four passes as a rookie last year and has three already this year, but he's too aggressive for his own good sometimes and gave up a 50-yard touchdown to Carolina's Steve Smith in Week 8 on a double move.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: CARDINALS OFFENSE VS. BEARS DEFENSE
WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. CBs Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman:
It's time for Fitzgerald to have a big week. Fitzgerald hasn't made the big plays this season that warrant a Madden cover. The Bears secondary should have their hands full with a motivated Fitzgerald.

WRs Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban vs. LB Hunter Hillenmeyer: Although Hillenmeyer has done a better job replacing the injured Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker than Nick Roach did, he still struggles having to drop back into coverage down the middle of the field when the Bears run their trademark Cover 2. Usually, Hillenmeyer has to cover tight ends between the hash marks, and they give him enough trouble. But since Arizona runs more four-receiver sets than any team in the league, that means Hillenmeyer may be really overmatched when trying to run with quality wideouts like Breaston and Urban.


WR Larry Fitzgerald
Getty Images: Chris McGrath

THE CARDINALS WIN IF ...
... the offensive line protects Kurt Warner. Arizona's veteran quarterback hasn't looked like himself the past couple games. The Cardinals offensive line needs to be on its game so Warner has plenty of time to seek out his options. Warner also needs to connect the dots to earn big plays, which will also lean on Fitzgerald's shoulders. The Pro Bowl receiver's longest play this season is 27 yards. Something has to give. The Cardinals defense also needs to show up to play. There are very capable playmakers in both the front seven and the secondary. Adrian Wilson is definitely one of them. He earned his paycheck against the Giants but fell by the wayside against the Panthers. He and the rest of his unit will need to regroup and earn their stripes.

THE CARDINALS LOSE IF ...
... they lose the turnover battle. Last week, the Cardinals were picked off five times. The Panthers were given extra opportunities, and the Cardinals defense couldn't stop them. If Arizona doesn't correct its mistakes on run defense by Sunday, it will lose to a Chicago group that considers itself a running team. The Cardinals will also lose if the Bears are successful at getting after Warner. He's struggling and might not find his way back this Sunday if the Bears pressure him often.

THE BEARS WIN IF ...
... Matt Forte has anywhere near the kind of success running the football against Arizona that Carolina's DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart did a week ago. Despite coming into the game ranked No. 1 in the league defending the run, the Cardinals were gashed by Williams and Stewart to the tune of 247 yards and two touchdowns on 40 combined carries. Forte has averaged 3.5 yards per attempt or less in five of seven contests thus far, but if he can find room to run against a run-of-the-mill 3-4 defense, all of a sudden the play-action pass becomes a threat again and Cutler will have more time to make plays downfield.

THE BEARS LOSE IF ...
... the pass rush doesn't get to Warner, who is going to the Hall of Fame one day but not because of the way he handles pressure in the pocket. As we saw last week, when he threw five interceptions and also lost a fumble against Carolina, Warner is prone to turnovers and will be facing a Chicago defense that preaches takeaways as much as any team in the league. Left tackle Mike Gandy in particular can be beaten off the edge, so it will be up to ends Alex Brown and Mark Anderson to register a few sacks, knock down a ball or two and force Warner to make up his mind where to go quicker than he would like.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Amberly Dressler:
The Cardinals have an early start time when they play Chicago, but that hasn't been an issue this season. Arizona has yet to lose on the road and is coming off an embarrassing defeat. They also haven't lost two straight this season and are a good rebound team. I expect Arizona to pull it together and be a cohesive unit. The Cardinals appear to enjoy confusing the heck out of the league, so they should have everyone scratching their heads once again after they win again on the road. CARDINALS 31, BEARS 24.

John Crist: Last year, the Cardinals were a good home team and a bad road team, but this year, the opposite seems to be true for reasons unexplained. However, the Bears are 3-0 at Soldier Field so far, and even though two of those victories came against the lowly Lions and brutal Browns, not many people figured they would defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers on the shores of Lake Michigan back in Week 2. Turnovers will be the key to the game, and I see Chicago coming out on top in that crucial category. BEARS 24, CARDINALS 23.

To go back and read Part I of this Behind Enemy Lines series, where John answered five questions from Amberly, Click Here. To read Part II, where Amberly answered five questions from John, Click Here.


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John Crist is the publisher of BearReport.com. Amberly Dressler is the publisher of AZRedReport.com.


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