The Chicago Bears stayed in the playoff picture on Sunday with an impressive 15-point win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Bears broke the scoring less than six minutes into the game with a defensive touchdown recovery from Zack Bowman, on a play where Arizona tailback Beanie Wells coughed up the ball while attempting to run out of his own end zone. After a pair of second quarter touchdowns from Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall eventually gave the Bears a 21-6 advantage at halftime, Chicago's play-making defense made its presence known once again early in the second half.
Marking his third individual score of the season, Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman picked off an errant Ryan Lindley pass and proceeded to return it 10 yards for his team's second defensive touchdown of the day. Tillman's big play not only forced the Cardinals into an immediate 22-point hole early in the third quarter, but it also inched the Bears ever closer to the NFL's all-time mark of 10 defensive scores set by the 1998 Seattle Seahawks.
The Cardinals countered with an 82-yard blocked field goal return from Arizona's Justin Bethel with just two minutes remaining, although it proved too little to late as Arizona's onside kick attempt went unsuccessful. Now at 9-6 on the year with a regular season finale scheduled in Detroit next weekend, the Bears will enter Week 17 as one of a handful of NFC teams in search of a postseason bid. At the other end of the spectrum the Cardinals dropped to just 5-10 with the defeat, and are now one of three NFC franchises with double digits losses already this season.
Fantasy studs and duds
The only Chicago receiver to haul in more than two passes, Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall made sure to reward fantasy owners with his 11th touchdown grab of the season late in the first half. Though Marshall started slow on a day when his quarterback struggled to find a rhythm early, he still finished with six receptions for 68 yards and the score.
With fantasy owners expecting huge numbers in Week 16 against a lapse Arizona defense, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler failed to impress with just 12 completions through the air. Aside from his one touchdown to Marshall, Cutler hardly lived up to his lofty projections with just 146 yards passing on the day.
Despite a strong game in the first half, Bears tailback Matt Forte aggravated his ankle in the third quarter and did not return. Forte finished with 88 yards rushing and one touchdown on the ground, and looked to be on his way towards posting his strongest rushing performance of the season before the injury. He was replaced by the duo of Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen, who combined to tally 56 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
Did they cover?
The Bears opened as 5.5-point favorites, and had little trouble keep the Cardinals off balance for much of the day in order to cover with ease. Chicago is now 7-7-1 against the spread this season.
12/30 - 1 p.m. ET - Chicago at Detroit
12:30 - 4:25 p.m. ET - Arizona at San Francisco