Week 11 Preview: Bears @ Dolphins

November 18, 2010 by

The Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins will meet for the 11th time ever tonight at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins lead the all-time series 7-3.

The last time these two teams met was back in 2006, when the Dolphins spoiled the Bears 6-0 record by beating them 31-13 at Soldier Field. Miami didn’t treat the Bears well again that season, when the Bears appeared in Super Bowl XLI, but failed to come away with the victory.

The Bears are fresh off a big victory over the disappointing Minnesota Vikings. The Dolphins beat the Titans and are sitting at 5-4 looking to keep adding victories, but they are down to their third string quarterback after losing both Chad Pennington and Chad Henne last week.

This a quick turnaround for both teams and the Dolphins are considered the favorite because they have the home field advantage. The Dolphins won their first home game all season last week against the Titans.

QB Tyler Thigpen will start tonight for the Dolphins and that means a lot more wildcat than we have seen thus far. Thigpen is 1-10 in his career as a starter, all starts coming with the Chiefs in 2008.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are masters at the wildcat and they both have had success against the Bears defense in the past. Expect a lot of cover three by the Bears, where they have eight men in the box.

The Bears linebackers will have to know where these two running backs will be at all times because if they make one subtle mistake it might lead to an easy touchdown for the Dolphins. Brian Urlacher needs four tackles to become the Bears all-time tackles leader. Lance Briggs is a crafty veteran who always plays well and Nick Roach will be filling in for the injured Pisa Tinoisamoa.

Don’t expect this game to be high scoring, the Dolphins will be running the ball more than they have all season because of Tyler Thigpen being forced into lineup.

The Bears have been good on offense as of late because the offense has been more balanced, the offensive line has been looking improved and so has Jay Cutler. The offense is coming together for Chicago.

The three games the Bears lost this season they threw the ball about 20 more times than they ran the ball. Chester Taylor and Matt Forte will be a big part of the game plan tonight. Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby will be ready for the Bears running game.

Key Matchups:

Bears DE Julius Peppers against LT Jake Long

Julius Peppers has only two sacks all season, but he has been causing havoc. He causes holding and false start penalties on a regular basis. Stud LT Jake Long has been great since he entered the league with the Dolphins three seasons ago, but he is playing with a very sore shoulder. I expect Peppers to be able to take advantage of Long’s injury. Peppers is due for a big game and it wouldn’t come any bigger than tonight against the Dolphins on national television.

Bears running backs against the Dolphins linebackers

The Dolphins defense ranks 19th against the run. The Bears have Matt Forte and Chester Taylor as their one-two punch. Obviously it’s not better than Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but Forte and Taylor have lots of talent. I expect a lot of running from both teams in this one, so look for Forte and Taylor both to have solid games tonight.

Players Who Will Step Up:

1) Tommie Harris- I had an argument with Bears fans about Tommie Harris yesterday, they all believe he isn’t talented anymore, but I think he is due for a big game. He has been making plays of late. I expect him to be a key contributor on pass downs tonight.

Prediction: 4 tackles and one sack.

2) Charles Tillman- He has been quiet of late, but he seems to make plays on nationally televised games. He has added two interceptions and three forced fumbles this season, I expect him to increase those numbers against the Dolphins.

Prediction: 5 tackles and one forced fumble.

3) Earl Bennett- Considering Johnny Knox is been making big plays all season and Devin Hester is getting less time on offense because he is back returning kickoffs, Bennett should have a good game. He is averaging 35.5 ypg this season, but I expect him to be a big part of the offense tonight.

Prediction: 7 catches and 71 yards.

Final Score:

This game can go either way. The Bears come into this game firing on all cylinders, offense, defense and special teams. Devin Hester has been ridiculous as of late and the Dolphins should be focused on shutting him down. The Dolphins meanwhile have third stringer Tyler Thigpen starting, LT Jake Long banged up and they want to run the wildcat to confuse the solid Bears defense. If the Bears can stop the wildcat they will be in luck tonight. I believe the Bears will contain Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and come away with the tough win on the road.

Bears 21, Dolphins 13.

The weather forecast for tonight’s game is about 76 degrees.

Jake Perper is the creator of www.BearsBacker.com and also covers the Bears for www.NFLTouchdown.com and NFLBlogblitz.

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