Heading into Week 9, Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears are set to take on the Miami Dolphins. Following the trade to acquire wide receiver Chase Claypool, all eyes will be on the Bears offense. Before the Bears-Dolphins matchup, we will be giving out Week 9 predictions.
The Bears have been one of the NFL’s more resilient teams this season. They currently sit at 3-5 and have relied heavily on their ground attack and explosive defense to win games.
Given time, this roster could develop into one of the NFL’s best. But at the moment, this team finds itself directly in the middle of a rebuild. And they will be taking on a Miami Dolphins team that has looked to be among the best in the NFL at times this season.
On Sunday, the Bears will have their hands full with this Dolphins team. But it doesn't mean that they can't keep this game close, and even walk away with a victory.
Here are three bold predictions for the Bears in Week 9
3. The Bears secondary will be put to the test
The Bears secondary has been among the best in the NFL in recent weeks. Led by their blend of talented rookies, and proven veterans, they have become the staple of this defense.
But in Week 9, they will be forced to take on the NFL’s best-receiving duo in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. And this could lead to a long day for this talented secondary.
Over the first eight games of the season, Waddle and Hill have dominated opposing defenses. They have combined for 111 receptions, 1,688 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns. They are also coming off of a Week 8 outing against the Detroit Lions where they recorded nearly 300 receiving yards combined.
In short, this will be the biggest challenge that the Bears secondary will have faced up to this point. It will be a battle of two sides that are loaded with talent, and it could ultimately prove to be what decides the game.
2. Khalil herbert emerges as the lead running back
Last season, the Bears thought that they may have had something special in rookie running back Khalil Herbert. It appears now, that this appears to be true.
The backfield duo of Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery have carried the ball almost the same amount. Montgomery has recorded 92 attempts, and Herbert has recorded 91. But it appears that Herbert has emerged as the new RB1 for this Bears team. Against the Dolphins, this could be put on full display.
Up to this point in the season, Herbert has recorded 563 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Through the air, he has added 62 receiving yards and one touchdown on six receptions. In total, he has recorded 625 yards from scrimmage.
On the other side, Montgomery has recorded 361 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He is currently the Bears third-leading rusher, currently behind both Herbert and Fields. Through the air, he has recorded 135 receiving yards and 13 total receptions. He has accounted for 496 yards from scrimmage this season.
While Montgomery has still run the ball well this season, Herbert has looked to be more productive.
The Bears backfield may have a hard time against a Dolphins defense that has just acquired star edge rusher Bradley Chubb, and they may elect to go with the hot hand. But Herbert could very well be who leaves the game as the Bears RB1.
1. Justin Fields will dominate through the air
Adding Claypool to this Bears offense could be exactly what Justin Fields needs to take his game to the next level.
After a slow start to the season, Fields has looked like a different quarterback over the past month. In the last four games, he has thrown for 784 passing yards, five touchdowns, and just two interceptions. On the ground, he has added another 277 rushing yards and two touchdowns. While the Bears are 1-3 over this stretch, the Bears have seen clear improvement with their QB1. If all goes to plan, this will be just the start for the Ohio State product.
Fields has found success this season, even while throwing to a less-than-ideal receiving group. Outside of Darnell Mooney, there is a clear lack of playmakers within the unit. But now with Claypool joining the mix, this group will see a massive increase in potential.
For the first time in his NFL career, Fields will have the opportunity to throw to two elite-level talents in Claypool and Mooney. This could help the offense erupt through the air as defenses won't be able to lock in on just Mooney. Instead, they will have to gameplan for both pass catchers.
In each of the last four games, Fields has been on the look for the deep throw down the field. Claypool just so happens to be one of the best vertical threats in the NFL.
The Dolphins secondary has been solid this season, but Fields has given several of the NFL’s best groups problems this season. If all goes to plan, he could get this newly constructed offense off to a hot start through the air.