Chicago comes into the season with high hopes after revamping the coaching staff led by head coach Marc Trestman. The Bears are hoping to turn around recent fortunes which have kept them out of the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, the ultimate reason Lovie Smith was ousted despite going 10-6 last year.
Oakland is simply in the middle of a massive rebuilding project under general manager Reggie McKenzie and second-year coach Dennis Allen. The Raiders jettisoned most of their high-priced talent during the offseason, losing the likes of Carson Palmer, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff, Richard Seymour, and so forth.
Meet the Bears
Chicago comes in to this game after beating the San Diego Chargers and looking really good doing it. Granted it's only preseason, but the Bears mauled Philip Rivers and Co., intercepting him and causing three other turnovers on the way to a 33-28 victory. In the first quarter, Chicago had a 14-0 lead behind touchdowns from Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall.
If the Bears are going to make noise in the loaded NFC, these two players are going to have to be at their best. Chicago doesn't have a ton of playmakers elsewhere. One x-factor is Martellus Bennett, who was mediocre with the Dallas Cowboys before finding his game last year with the New York Giants, catching 55 balls for 626 yards and five touchdowns, all career highs.
Meet the Raiders
Oakland has a new quarterback in Matt Flynn, traded to them by the Seattle Seahawks for a pair of late-round draft picks. Unfortunately, Flynn has nowhere to go with the football, surrounded by a band of unknown receivers such as Rod Streeter and Denarius Moore. Darren McFadden is an excellent running back but can he stay healthy? It always seems to be the downfall of this ex-Razorback.
To make matters worse, Jared Veldheer is now out with torn triceps. Veldheer is the starting left tackle and the best lineman on the team, and now will miss at least the first few months of the season. Defensively, Oakland is pretty barren with the secondary looking like a major issue. Without Huff, the Raiders are looking at Charles Woodson to replace him. Woodson is a Hall of Famer, but he's also ancient.
Local takes: Bears
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. writes on Windy City Gridiron about the composition of the offensive line:
It's a veteran group on the left side with free agent newcomers Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson at tackle and guard respectively. Then on the right side, it's rookie newcomers Jordan Mills at tackle, and Kyle Long at guard.
Judging by recent comments from the coaches, they were happy with the right side rookies, but consistency will be key. If they don't have a set back in Oakland, I'd expect them both to be week one starters.
Local takes: Raiders
Over at Silver And Black Pride, Levi Damien is expecting a flurry of activity in Oakland when teams begin cutting players:
The first cutdown day is August 27. Teams must be down to 75 players which means all at once, there will be 480 players to flood the market. Then come August 31 - just four days later, another 384 players will come available.
That's a lot of player to choose from, many of whom came from teams with a lot stronger competition ahead of them on their current rosters than what is on the Raiders roster right now. Therefore a much better chance there will be many players who would be an upgrade for the Raiders.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Bucs Nation and Daily Norseman, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Trestman on #Raiders fans continued: "They’re good people that have day jobs like the rest of us."— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) August 21, 2013
Veldheer plans on playing in 2013 . . . http://t.co/gE1fDJRkg6— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) August 21, 2013
Since it's the preseason, this isn't exactly a walk in the park. Both teams sit at 1-1 and while the starters will see ample time, so will guys about to become insurance salesman. Chicago has the much better team, but players on Oakland might be more desperate to play well considering more starting jobs are on the line. The Bears have played well under Trestman thus far, so I'll go off that.
My pick: Bears 27, Raiders 16
The line is even with an over/under of 40, according to Oddshark.com.
Both teams play on Thursday to wrap up the preseason slate, with the Bears hosting the Cleveland Browns while the Raiders hit the road for Seattle.