Game Scout: AZ Cardinals at Chicago Bears

The Arizona Cardinals have some ground to make up. A win over the Bears in Chicago will put the Cardinals at even .500 before a two-game NFC West stretch. Here is insight into the Bears-Cardinals matchup.

Arizona Cardinals (4-3) at Chicago Bears (4-3)

SERIES: 88th regular-season meeting. The Bears lead 55-26-6 and have won the last three. The teams last met in 2006 and, in Arizona, the game is known as The Monday Night Meltdown. The Cardinals (1-4) at the time led the undefeated Bears, 23-3. But they let the Bears score three touchdowns in the final quarter to lose, 24-23. That touched off former coach Dennis Green's famous post-game rant. "You want to crown them, go ahead and crown their asses," he said, his voice rising. "But they are exactly who we thought they are, and we let them off the hook."

PREDICTION: Cardinals 30-24

KEYS TO THE GAME: Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is coming off a six-turnover game and has been impatient of late with defenses playing back in a lot of deep coverages. It would help to get rookie RB Beanie Wells more involved to set up play-action, and Warner needs to take more deep shots to WR Larry Fitzgerald and let him make plays even against double coverage. The Bears' ground game showed a glimmer of life last Sunday, while Arizona fell from first to eighth in run defense after giving up 270 yards to Carolina. QB Jay Cutler makes too many mistakes when the offense becomes one-dimensional and is also coming off a game in which he was physically battered by Cleveland.

FAST FACTS: Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin has 537 career receptions, passing RB Larry Centers for the franchise lead. ... The Bears have a six-game home winning streak.



--WR Anquan Boldin has missed two practices this week and likely will be a game-time decision on Sunday. Boldin has a sprained ankle that might not improve until he takes time off. Boldin doesn't seem keen on sitting out, however.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continues to play with a small cast on his right hand and he suffered a sprained ankle last week. But he's participated fully in every practice this week and seems to be running well.

--FS Antrel Rolle has a small rupture in a ligament in his right foot and has practiced on a limited basis this week. He should play in the game.

--DE Darnell Dockett is playing through a sore right ankle. He missed Wednesday's practice but is expected to play. Dockett, in his sixth season, has never missed a game.

--LB Gerald Hayes missed practice this week with back spasms. He is expected to play Sunday at Chicago.


--WR Devin Hester missed a second straight day of practice with a mildly sprained ankle, but he is expected to play Sunday.

Johnny Knox

--WR Johnny Knox would move into a starting role if Devin Hester (ankle) can't play Sunday. Knox, a fifth-round rookie from Abilene Christian is third on the team with 310 receiving yards on 24 catches.

--DT Tommie Harris (knee) was a full participant at Thursday's practice after being limited on Wednesday.

--CB Charles Tillman is likely to have primary responsibility for Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday. He leads the Bears with two interceptions, and is tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles.

--WR Earl Bennett, who is second on the team with 25 catches and 334 receiving yards, would replace Devin Hester (ankle) as the No. 1 punt returner. Bennett has averaged 15.8 yards on four punt returns this season.



The Cardinals don't appear to be worrying much as they try to rebound from one of their worst defensive performances of the year.

They yielded 270 rushing yards to the Panthers last week in a 34-21 defeat. The tackling was especially sloppy, a sign that the group was not mentally into the game.

Defensive end Darnell Dockett said his teammates need to put aside personal concerns and focus on their jobs.

"I know a lot of guys have a lot of things on their minds," Dockett said. "Personal issues at home, financial things and regular-life situations. I just try to get my guys when they come to the field to (think), 'Hey, for this next two hours, just focus on what we got to do to be successful on Sunday.'

"You usually don't win a game on Sunday. You usually win the games Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in practice. I'm just trying to get my guys to understand that you can't just turn it on on Sunday."

Last Sunday's game was a sign of immaturity from a defense that had appeared to grow up over the previous months. It was starting to look like a solid unit during the team's three-game win streak, with especially dominant performances at Seattle and against the Giants.

The Cardinals can't place the blame on anything but a lack of effort. Every starter played last week, but the gap discipline was poor, as was the containment on the back side of runs.

The Cardinals will face a similar challenge Sunday from the Bears, who rushed for 170 yards last week against the Brown.


If the 4-3 Bears don't put more pressure on the Cardinals' Kurt Warner Sunday than they've put on opposing quarterbacks in their last three games, they'll be looking at a .500 record at the halfway point of the season.

Defensive left end Adewale Ogunleye, the team's leading sacker with 4.5, went so far as to say he doesn't think the Bears can win if they don't disrupt Warner.

"My mindset is, if we don't get to Kurt, pressure him (and) sack him, it's going to be a long day," Ogunleye said. "With that said, there's a lot of pressure on our backs, a lot of pressure on my back, to get to Kurt."

In their first four games this season, the Bears had 14 sacks. But, in the last three games, losses to the Falcons and Bengals and a victory over the Browns, the Bears had a grand total of one sack.

This week they know the best way to slow down one of the NFL's most explosive offenses is to do to Warner what the Panthers did last week, get after him. Warner was sacked twice and pressured into five interceptions and a fumble.

If Warner is allowed time to throw to his talented targets -- wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston -- the Bears won't be able to contain all of them.

Larry Fitzgerald

Last season, en route to the Super Bowl, each of Warner's top three targets had over 1,000 receiving yards. Fitzgerald (47 catches, 509 yards, five touchdowns) is well on his way to duplicating that feat this year. But Boldin (35 catches, 404 yards, one touchdown) has been slowed by a sprained ankle, which kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, although he has vowed to play Sunday. Breaston has picked up the slack with 30 catches, 400 yards and a team-best 13.3 yards per reception.

"They have probably the best receiver in the game," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said of Fitzgerald. "I love watching both of them play, Anquan and 'Fitz,' and they have Steve Breaston, and they have good backs and they have Kurt Warner. They have the tools. As long as they can protect and get those balls out, those guys will make plays."

Yet the Cardinals have shown a tendency to give the ball away this season, committing 18 turnovers.

"You watch their tape this year, and the people who have had success vs. them have done a pretty good job of taking the ball away from them," middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "They're an offense that's going to make their plays. They've got too many great players out there. Our goal is to take the ball away, have big plays and try to contain their big ones."

Back in 2004, when Warner was playing for the Giants, he was sacked four times in one game by Alex Brown in a 28-21 Bears victory.

"We need the sacks," said Brown, who's second on the Bears with 3.5 sacks. "We need to force the turnovers, we need to get the ball, (get) tipped balls, make him throw the ball sooner than he wants to, stuff like that."

More than ever, this week, it's what's up front that counts for the Bears.

"We've got to create havoc in the passing game," Ogunleye said. "It starts with the defensive line because you can't expect our secondary to cover those guys for long. They're just too good."

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