After literally destroying the Minnesota Vikings soul in week 5 (See Stefon Diggs trade request and Adam Thielen’s comments on Kirk Cousins), Khalil Mack will get his shot at revenge as the Chicago Bears travel to London to take on Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. Since the NFL instituted their International Series in 2007, the Bears have played just once in England, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-18 in 2011.

Last week, the Bears were able to prevail despite missing key starters such as Kyle Long, Taylor Gabriel, Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith. On top of those injuries, starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky left the game on the first series due to a shoulder dislocation on his non-throwing arm. While the Bears have already ruled Trubisky out for this week’s tilt with the Raiders, there is internal optimism that he could return after the bye week when the Bears play the Saints at Soldier Field. 

The Bears will once again turn to backup Chase Daniel to effectively move the offense. Daniel, a 10 year NFL veteran, holds a 2-2 record in his 4 career starts. He finished 1-1 in his two games with the Bears in 2018, defeating the Lions on Thanksgiving and losing to the Giants in New York. In spite of the circumstances last week, Daniel got the job done versus a tough Minnesota defense that ranked 12th in total yards per game. This week, Daniel will have a much looser match up as the Raiders pass defense is currently ranked 27th in the NFL in total passing yards per game (281.0). Despite their struggles defending the pass, the Raiders front 7 has held up pretty well against the run, ranking 16th in total rushing yards allowed (418). Outside of their week 3 match up against Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings, the Raiders have held their opponents to just 207 rushing yards on 68 carries, which is good for 3.04 yards per carry. 

While there should be room to operate for the Bears passing game, it was clear on Wednesday that Daniel isn’t taking the Raiders defense for granted. 

“They’re a great defense. They’re really good up front. On the back end, they play a lot of different people but obviously, with the Burfict suspension, we have to see how we will handle that. It’s sort of unknown right now so we just gotta really be ready for anything.” 

The Raiders will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict due to a year-long suspension stemming from a hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle in Week 4. The team was already undermanned on defense as they lost their 1st round draft pick Jonathon Abram to injured reserve due to a torn shoulder labrum and could be missing another 1st rounder in defensive end Clelin Ferrell. 

The Raiders aren’t the only team dealing with injuries on the defensive side of the ball as the Bears look to get Akiem Hicks (knee) and Roquan Smith (personal) back on the field. Hicks was reportedly close to playing this past Sunday versus the Vikings but was eventually scratched. Hicks status for week 5 remains up in the air, as he did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday.

Smith’s situation, on the other hand, remains shrouded in mystery. Smith was slapped late with a doubtful tag about an hour before kickoff last week due to personal reasons. While rumors of a DUI or a potential mental health issue ran rampant on the internet, no specific reason as to why Smith didn’t play on Sunday was released. Early in the week, Matt Nagy repeatedly told media members that he was out due to a personal issue and that was all the information he was willing to provide. 

When finally given access to the media, Smith stuck with the same rhetoric, stating: “Like coach said, it was a personal reason and that’s behind us now. Just focused on getting better this week and moving on to Oakland.” 

When asked about if he expected to play this week, Smith replied, “That’s definitely the expectation.” While Smith is optimistic and practicing in full this week, Nagy remains coy, as he continuously has said that the former Georgia Bulldog is day-to-day and is unsure of his final status for the game on Sunday.

Even without Hicks and Smith, the Bears still found a way to shut down the Vikings offense so if they are able to return in this one, we should see them continue their dominant ways. Per NFL.com, the Raiders are currently 26th in passing yards per game (210), 9th in total rushing yards per game (125.8) and 21st in total points per game (19.8). Their passing game could potentially take another hit as their number 1 wide receiver Tyrell Williams has missed practice with a foot injury. 

PREDICTION: 

This game feels very similar to the game in New York last year. There is absolutely no logical reason as to why the Bears shouldn’t win this game. The Bears’ defense is executing on a legendary level and the offense shouldn’t have to do much in order to get the win. With that being said, this if the NFL and as we know anything can happen on any given Sunday. While I don’t believe that this Raiders team is nearly as bad as the Giants team last year, they just flat out are not better than the Bears. Khalil Mack is going to be hungry (as if he isn’t always hungry) to get after it against the team that traded him away and his teammates are going to want to get this one for him too. Another week, another Bears defensive domination. Final Score: Bears 23, Raiders 10. 

The Bears (3-1) play the Oakland Raiders (2-2) at 12:00 PM CST Sunday October 6th at Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, England. Per Pro Football Reference, the all-time series between the two is currently tied at 7 wins apiece.