The Chicago Bears will face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, and will hope to avoid a trap game.
The Bears are now 7-7 and one game out of the final NFC Playoff spot. Mitchell Trubisky has re-energized the offense, and shockingly, has played his way into the 2021 Bears QB conversation.
A revamped offensive line has also helped unlock David Montgomery, and the Bears are averaging 31 points per game since Trubisky returned to the lineup.
Chicago will face the team currently leading the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, the Jaguars. With the Jets’ unlikely win over the Rams on Sunday, Jacksonville would have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft if the season ended today.
Here are the best NFL odds at Illinois online sportsbooks.
Bears @ Jaguars odds
This line opened at 6.5, and it has already crossed a key number in Chicago’s favor.
The Bears have a great incentive to win this game, and the Jaguars have a great incentive to lose it.
Jacksonville once again looked lifeless in Week 15, falling to the Ravens 40-14.
Trubisky critics have (perhaps fairly) pointed out that his recent hot streak has come against mostly poor defenses. The Texans and Lions are brutal on that side of the ball, while the Packers and Vikings are decent at best.
Luckily for the Bears, the Jaguars are even worse defensively than the Lions and Texans. Jacksonville is dead last in yards allowed.
The Bears racked up 397 yards of offense against Minnesota, as Montgomery rumbled his way to 146 yards.
The interior of the Chicago offensive line, featuring Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars and Cody Whitehair, deserves as much credit as anyone. When Montgomery isn’t consistently getting hit behind the line of scrimmage, he’s shown to be an excellent running back.
New play-caller Bill Lazor has catered to Trubisky’s strengths, frequently using play-action and cutting the field in half. Trubisky averaged 9.6 yards per attempt on Sunday, a season-high.
In theory, the Bears should be able to use the same formula to dice up the Jaguars in Week 16. Jacksonville has allowed 35.5 points per game in its last two outings.
Could this be a trap game?
The Jaguars have lost 13 straight, but it’s not as if they’ve been blown out in every contest.
There was a five-game stretch not too long ago in which they lost four times by a combined 11 points. And they nearly beat some quality teams, including the Browns and Packers.
With that said, the last two weeks against the Ravens and Titans have been ugly, and Lawrence is clearly in reach now that the Jets lost.
Unlike the Bears, the Jaguars control their destiny to achieve their primary objective. The Bears, on the other hand, need the Cardinals to lose.
Jacksonville is horrendous defensively, but it’s not as bad on offense. They rank 22nd in total offense, which is actually better than the Bears.
Obviously, Chicago seems to have figured things out with Trubisky at the helm instead of Nick Foles, but the Jaguars have the potential to score. And this Bears defense is a far cry from what it was in 2018, or even 2019.
The Vikings took advantage of the Bears missing Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine on Sunday and notched 407 yards of offense.
Dalvin Cook ran free (132 yards) and Kirk Cousins mostly moved the ball with ease.
One of the few bright spots for the Jaguars has been rookie running back James Robinson, who is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and is also a threat in the passing game.
Robinson could have a big day against this Bears front seven, though he was shaken up in the Ravens loss. We’ll see if he lands on the injury report this week.
Chicago is much more talented on both sides of the ball, but the Jets just beat the Rams — stranger things have happened in the NFL.
Can the Bears stave off a trap game? If they can, Week 17 against the Packers becomes a whole lot more important.