CHICAGO BEARS (7-3) at OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-4)
Sunday, 4:05 P.M. ET, FOX, Direct TV (711), Sirius (Chi 135, Oak 86)
To see if Caleb Hanie will be more successful for the Bears than Tyler Palko was for the Kansas City Chiefs under similar circumstances. Bears fans have not been entirely behind QB Jay Cutler, but hey, he’s better than Rex Grossman and Chicago was on a five-game run behind him. Chicago will miss Cutler now that he’s gone.
When we last saw Hanie, he was completing 65 percent of his passes for a score and two interceptions in Chicago losing effort against the Packers for the conference championship. The Bears did not have to give up Draft picks to get him as the Raiders did to acquire Carson Palmer. Hanie is the Black Friday special. Palmer is Hue Jackson’s chips all in play to make playoff noise. Palmer’s passer rating (80.0) does not quite measure up to Jason Campbell’s (84.2) because of his higher interception and sack rates. His performance has stabilized with more time in the Raiders’ system and the Raiders maintain their push to take the division.
What To Watch
Sadly, fans are deprived of a Darren McFadden vs. Matt Forte game. Michael Bush is only a moderate fall-off in Oakland’s rushing game. The Raiders’ downfield passing is the concern. Jacobi Ford, Oakland’s third-leading receiver is out. Darrius Heyward-Bey is the team’s leading receiver in yards, but has a single score to show for the effort. Oakland’s defense has been more disruptive than Chicago’s with 28 sacks and 63 passes defended. the Bears have recovered eight of 10 forced-fumbles.
With Cutler out and Devin Hester limited to special teams, if you call that a limitation, the bears will be all Matt Forte all the time. Forte alone accounts for 40 percent of Chicago’s offense. Oakland allows 132 rushing yards per game. With Cutler out, the Raiders are favored by 3.
Who Will Win
Football seasons are tests of a team’s resilience. It is a test of depth of talent and the success of on-the-fly adjustment. Oakland lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell and mortgaged the future to land Carson Palmer. Chicago lost Cutler, but their recent success precluded them from reacquiring Kyle Orton. The fun of football is watching how that all plays out over the season. For this one game, the advantage falls in the Raiders’ favor. Oakland.