The Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers will face off in prime time in Week 3. Their game will be the featured Sunday Night Football matchup, and it should be a good one, despite the difference in record. Chicago just bested its NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, to improve to a 2-0 record, while the Steelers were dominated by their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Pittsburgh is 0-2 and searching for answers. The Bears have struggled at times, but their unblemished record has them atop their division thanks to a Green Bay Packers loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1. The Bears are obviously favored, but the Steelers do have plenty of weapons to make things happen ... they just need to put it all together.
Let's take a look at both teams below:
Meet the Bears
The Bears finally hit the big red button this offseason on a coaching staff and front office that had stagnated. They brought in head coach Marc Trestman to bring the most out of the offense and thus far, it's looking pretty good. The Bears have their usual issues, such as quarterback Jay Cutler's interception problem, but the offense is more or less working.
Cutler threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in a narrow 31-30 victory over Minnesota in Week 2. Running back Matt Forte had 90 yards off of 19 carries and caught 11 passes for 71 yards. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall managed 113 yards and a touchdown off of seven receptions.
Chicago needs to stop making those mistakes on offense. They haven't caught up with the Bears just yet, but against a more opportunistic team, they should struggle
Meet the Steelers
Pittsburgh has been anything but an opportunistic team this season. They couldn't take advantage of a less-than-stellar Titans team, instead barely managing to avoid losing by the hilarious score of 16-2 by scoring a garbage time touchdown. Against the Bengals, the Steelers couldn't do anything in the second half, and now they are well into the basement of that division.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 20 of 37 passes for 251 yards, a touchdown and an interception in that loss to Cincinnati. The biggest issue right now is the lack of running game for Pittsburgh. Felix Jones carried the ball 10 times for a paltry 37 yards, and Roethlisberger was the next-leading rusher with ... six yards.
The Steelers could make a statement by going out and beating this Bears team at home in Week 3.
Local Takes: Bears
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. of Windy City Gridiron noted that Devin Hester and Martellus Bennett have been key and should be going forward:
9) How big of a spark was Devin Hester for the Chicago Bears? He delivered his two biggest returns at times when they really needed a shot of momentum. He ran wild immediately after the opening kick return TD by the Vikes, and again after their fumble return TD.
10) How great of a fit has Martellus Bennett been for the Bears? His skill set is tailor made for the West Coast Offense. So far in two weeks, he's only been off the field for two offensive snaps. His ability to do everything a tight end should do, allows Marc Trestman to hide what he's trying to do offensively.
Local Takes: Steelers
Anthony Defeo of Behind the Steel Curtain notes that there are some significant negative trends for Pittsburgh, especially regarding a lack of turnovers:
For example, as Neal Coolong pointed out, following another less than opportunistic showing in a Week 2 loss to the Bengals, Monday night, Pittsburgh's defense has a mere 35 takeaways in the last two-plus seasons. Also, if you go back to the time Ike Taylor strip-sacked quarterback Mark Sanchez and William Gay returned the fumble for a touchdown in the 2010 AFC Championship Game, Dick Lebeau's unit has two defensive touchdowns in the last 36 games that have counted.
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From the Week 3 picks:
Beating the Steelers at home used to be a tall order for any team, especially NFC teams. Mike Tomlin owns a 15-1 record against the other conference at home. And the franchise itself is 5-1 at home against the Bears dating back to 1967. Times have changed, and for the Steelers the clock somehow wound forward especially fast over the last two years.
If this were the Lovie Smith-coached Bears, I'd pick the Steelers to win. Marc Trestman's Bears are different thanks to a belief that offense can in fact win games. One more record stat to throw at you: Jay Cutler is 2-0 against the Steelers. That should be 3-0 late Sunday night.
The pick: Chicago
Chicago opened as a narrow one-point favorite, according to OddsShark. As the week has progressed, the line widened in its favor at most books, and you could find the Bears as high as three-point favorites.
Pittsburgh will hit the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 29. The Bears will continue their road trip with a game against the Detroit Lions on the same day.