Looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens will have an easier-than-expected matchup tomorrow due to several key absences fromt he Chicago Bears’ usual starting lineup.
The Ravens are no strangers to losing key players this season, with 17 players currently on injured reserve, including three rookies, two All-Pros and seven starters. They’ve even struggled with week-to-week injuries to players who have stepped up to fill key absences, like offensive tackle Patrick Mekari and running back Latavius Murray.
But on Sunday, they’ll face a heavily-depleted Bears team, giving them a good opportunity to rebound from last week and build confidence for a difficult stretch of games to close out the season.
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack is by far Chicago’s most prominent absence, but updates to their injury report revealed that even more players will not play tomorrow. Read on to find out who the Bears are missing, and how that will affect the Ravens’ gameplan.
Khalil Mack & Akiem Hicks
After news of Mack’s surgery broke yesterday, the Bears also ruled out defensive lineman Akiem Hicks for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. Their absences will soften up an already-pliable Chicago run defense, while greatly reducing the threat of their pass rush.
Mack has long been one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, so the Ravens will have a significantly easier time protecting Lamar Jackson on Sunday with him sidelined. But Hicks has quietly done most of the Bears’ dirty work on the interior of the defensive line, eating double teams and opening up rushing lanes for other defenders.
Chicago has already struggled to stop the run this season, with the fifth-worst run defense grade from Pro Football Focus in the NFL this season. But without Hicks and Mack, the Bears will be in for an especially difficult afternoon trying to stop the Ravens’ rushing offense, which is still potent despite a drop in efficiency this season.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson is listed as doubtful after not practicing all week, making it unlikely that he’ll play on Sunday as well. That leaves Darnell Mooney and Marquise Goodwin as rookie Justin Fields’ main targets, with Bears head coach Matt Nagy hinting at some practice squad reinforcements at receiver as well.
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey likely would have shadowed Robinson for much of the game, but without the veteran wideout on the field, the Ravens will be able to mix up their coverages. That will help defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale better disguise the blitzes that he normally throws at opposing rookie cornerbacks.
Starting safety Eddie Jackson is questionable to play against the Ravens after missing Chicago’s Week 9 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Bears hope that their Week 10 bye gave the Pro Bowler enough time to recover from a hamstring injury.
After last week’s frustrating game for the Ravens’ offense, expect Lamar Jackson to take more deep shots against the Bears. If Jackson isn’t around to patrol in deep coverage, the Ravens will likely be able to lean on their passing offense like they have several times already this season.