Thu, 07 Dec 2023

Bears, Broncos clash hoping to end early-season struggles

Field Level Media
28 Sep 2023, 09:55 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos are tied for the fewest victories in the NFL since Week 14 of the 2021 season, as each team has won just five of their last 24 regular-season games.

On Sunday, the Bears will host the Broncos for a chance to come at least temporarily unshackled from that prolonged futility.

Many oddsmakers are giving Denver (0-3) the nod despite the Bears' home-field advantage and the recency of the Broncos' 70-20 road loss to Miami in Week 3. At any rate, both sides are struggling and are in dire need of a victory.

For one, Chicago (0-3) has lost 13 straight games dating back to last season, surrendering at least 25 points in each contest.

"That's where we're talking about the fight, right?" Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. "There's going to be a moment in the game in the second half that we got to do it, right? And we've got to pull together and get that done. It's going to be done through execution."

Broncos coach Sean Payton delivered a similar message to his players.

"You've got to work your way out of this, and it starts with getting the first win," Payton said. "The next week can't come quick enough."

Chicago is coming off a 41-10 loss at Kansas City that saw quarterback Justin Fields and the offense continue to sputter. The Bears trailed by 41 before they cracked the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as Fields struggled again in his development as a pocket passer.

He finished 11-for-22 for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and his dual-threat ability didn't feature.

Subtract a 17-yard scramble, and Fields gained 30 yards on 10 carries. Many of them were necessitated by a banged-up offensive line's struggles to protect him.

Denver lost its first two games of the season -- home matchups against the Raiders and Commanders -- by a combined three points before ultimately allowing the second-most points by a team in NFL history. Washington put up 72 points in a win over the Giants in 1966.

"It definitely feels bigger than one game," Broncos safety Kareem Jackson said. "Any time you lose the way we lost (Sunday), (expletive) is embarrassing. Absolutely embarrassing. ... We didn't do anything we put in place."

Compared to the Bears, however, the Broncos at least moved the ball. Russell Wilson passed for 306 yards with a touchdown and an interception and has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in back-to-back games.

The Bears' banged up secondary is preparing to face a Denver receiving corps led by Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, who both had at least five catches for 81 yards last week.

Chicago defensive backs Josh Blackwell (hamstring), Eddie Jackson (foot) and Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday.

The Bears will be looking to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks, as they have only one sack through the first three games.

"We've gotten home some and we've missed some sacks in the pocket," Eberflus said. "We have to do a better job with that, making sure we do a good job of getting the guys down when we do have pressure."

Eberflus confirmed that he will call defensive plays for the rest of the season. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned on Sept. 20.

Linebackers Frank Clark and Josey Jewell didn't practice for Denver on Wednesday due to hip injuries. Nose tackle Mike Purcell (ribs) was also out, while Jeudy (knee) was limited.

--Field Level Media

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