The last time the Bears traveled to Denver, Tebow time had only just begun and the team lost in tragic fashion, 13-10. Since then, the Broncos went on to acquire one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning. Manning’s tenure in Denver culminated in an 2013 MVP, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Vince Lombardi trophy.

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Within that same time frame, the Bears fell on difficult times. They found themselves on the outside of the playoffs for 6 straight seasons and searching for an answer at the quarterback position. In 2018, things seemed to be looking up as 2nd year passer Mitchell Trubisky flashed great potential during the Bears run to an NFC North divisional crown. With expectations sky high coming into 2019, Trubisky dropped a dud in the home opener, going 26/45 for 228 yards and an interception.

Looking to get back on track in week 2; Nagy, Trubisky & company will find themselves squaring off against a familiar face in former Bears defensive coordinator turned Broncos head coach, Vic Fangio. When asked in Tuesday’s press conference about his matchup against the Fangio-led defense, Trubisky replied, “I think Vic does a good job of calling the games and he’s really good with predictability, like, knowing what your tendencies are and know what you’re bringing and just putting guys in the right spot. He does a good job of making it complicated for the quarterback to see as far as holding coverages and stuff but he keeps it simple for his guys so they’re able to play fast and be in the right spot to make plays.”

While Fangio and his defense looked shaky in their debut against the Antonio Brown-less Raiders, they still boast a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the ball, including premiere pass rushers Bradley Chubb and former Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller. Talent aside, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr found easy completion after easy completion, going 22/26 from the field for 259 yards and 1 touchdown. He was also not sacked even one time on the night. While it is unlikely that Von Miller and Bradley Chubb both come out of week 2 without registering at least one sack between the two of them, the Bears offensive line will have much to prove after surrendering the second most pressures in the NFL in week 1 (via Pro Football Focus).

With Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune reporting internal concerns on the ailing confidence of the Bears QB1, week 2 poses an opportunity for not only Trubisky to get things back on track, but the entire offense as well. The Broncos are looking as if they will be without marquee free agent acquisition and former Bear, Bryce Callahan, due to an ongoing foot injury. In order to build up some early confidence for their young signal caller, Nagy would be wise to start out with a quick hit passing game, utilizing playmakers such as Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen in the slot, while also complementing this with a rejuvenated running game.

The Bears dialed up a measly 12 runs in week 1 versus Green Bay. Nagy would be doing his team a disservice to not call more designed run plays on Sunday. Raiders rookie running back, Joshua Jacobs, found some success in week 1 against the Broncos, putting up 87 yards on 23 carries and 2 touchdowns. While Bears fans are hoping to see a heavy dose of David Montgomery, Nagy may look to get all three of his running backs involved in this one, as Tarik Cohen did not receive a single carry against the Packers last week.

Defensively, the Bears will be looking to dial it up against an aging Joe Flacco and a depleted Denver offensive line. Bronco’s starting right tackle,Ja’wuan James, suffered a knee injury in Monday night’s loss to the Raiders and has yet to participate in practice this week, leaving 3rd year undrafted free agent Elijah Wilkinson to start in his place. With only 7 career starts under his belt, Wilkinson will have his hands full as he tries to contain Khalil Mack and the Bears ferocious pass rush. During Mack’s tenure in Oakland, he had the opportunity to play at Mile High Stadium on numerous occasions, including a game in 2015 in which he recorded 5 sacks and a forced fumble in a single half… A SINGLE HALF!

After generating no turnovers in week 1, the Bears’ defense will be hungry to take the football away from the Denver offense. The first step towards achieving this task will be to rattle Joe Flacco early and often, forcing him into throws he has no business attempting. If the Bears are able to put the heat on the big armed quarterback, the turnovers should come to them. Flacco lost his starting job in Baltimore last year to former Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, and was dealt to Denver in exchange for a 4th round pick this offseason. While Flacco is a former Super Bowl MVP in his own right, he has largely struggled since the Ravens Super Bowl run during the 2012-2013 season. 

Another important discussion makings its rounds concerning this game is how difficult it is for away teams to come into Denver and win at the beginning of the season due to a combination of high altitude and heat. Per Pro Football Reference, the Broncos are 30-6 at home in September since 2000 and have won 13 in a row dating back to September 30th, 2012. While the numbers suggest that teams should be concerned with this trend, Matt Nagy seemed to be unfazed by the impending conditions, “As far as conditioning, we’ve had instances where guys have had oxygen masks that have helped out. It is an advantage for them, they’re used to that. It’s like anything, so I don’t know what you can really replicate here to make it the same as there, other than maybe condition your guys and make sure they’re running around pretty good. And then just prepping ahead of time for that.” While last year there were teams such as the Los Angeles Rams that practiced in Colorado prior to playing at a higher altitude in Mexico City, the Bears will stick to their familiar weekly practice schedule ahead of their trip to Denver. 

PREDICTION:

As of Thursday, Bovada has the Bears sitting at -3.0 with the o/u set at 40.5. While it remains to be seen if Mitchell Trubisky will bounce back, the defense has to feel pretty comfortable with keeping Joe Flacco and company at bay. I think we see another valiant effort from the Bears defense while the offense simplifies things and does enough to establish the ground game and get the win. Final score: Bears 23, Broncos 13. 

 

The Chicago Bears (0-1) visit the Denver Broncos (0-1) at Mile High Stadium at 3:25 CT on Fox. Per Pro Football Reference, the Broncos currently lead the all time series, 8-7.