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Key Matchups

Week 4 Key Matchups: Bears vs. Raiders 


With the Bears across the ocean to take on the Raiders on Sunday, keep an eye on these matchups:

Bears linebacker Khalil Mack vs. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs

Jacobs is a newcomer to the league, but he already has some symbolic connection to Chicago. The first two running backs taken in the 2019 draft were Jacobs and the Bears' David Montgomery. Moreover, Jacobs was taken with the pick the Bears traded to Oakland for Mack.

"He's a hard charger," said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano of Jacobs. "He can run inside; he can run outside. He has speed; he has power. He's tough, and he's physical. He's a three-down back. You can throw to him out of the backfield. He can protect. He can do everything. He's a heck of a young talent."

Jacobs will loom large in Mack's face-off against his old team. The Raiders like to run Jacobs off-tackle or find him in the flat on passing plays. On either of these plays, he's likely to see No. 52 sooner rather than later.

However, the real matchup will come when the Raiders hold Jacobs back to block for quarterback Derek Carr. Teams haven't had much success containing Mack in one-on-one matchups, so Jacobs will be the last line of defense. Jacobs will have more than just Mack to worry about, though.

"(Mack)'s a tremendous player," said Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson, "but as you know, their entire front seven has been very impressive through their start of the season. Certainly, we'll have a plan for Khalil Mack, like we have had for the Von Millers and the Bradley Chubbs and the other players that we've faced thus far. Overall defensively their entire front seven, we'll have to have a plan for all of them."

Mack should remain any offense's top concern. He carries with him the constant threat of disaster for opposing quarterbacks. The matchup between him and Jacobs could turn into a microcosm of the most consequential trade in the recent history of either franchise.

Bears receiver Allen Robinson II vs. Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley

This might be the best opportunity for a production explosion from the Bears passing game. The Raiders rank fifth-worst in the league in passing yardage allowed. Some of that is due to giving up 436 yards to the pass-happy Chiefs, but there is reason to believe there are some real issues.

The Raiders have just one interception this season. Additionally, the Raiders pass rush hasn't been very productive either. Over four games, the Raiders have tallied five sacks. In comparison, the Bears had five against the Packers, four against the Redskins and six against the Vikings.

All this to say, Robinson should be poised for a big day. The receiver is leading the Bears in targets, catches and yards.

Worley, however, poses a bit of a challenge, as one of the bigger, more physical cornerbacks in the league. Worley stands 6-1 and 215 pounds, so to put up big yardage, Robinson will have to take on someone his own size. Worley deflected three passes against the Indianapolis Colts last week.

"They have a couple guys that are among the highest percentage of press guys in the league," said offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. "And so, yeah, we're aware of that, and you study, just like a rusher, you're looking at key (players) differently than some of these other guys in terms of what their approach to pass rush is."

Bears running back David Montgomery vs. Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead

With the season-long suspension of Vontaze Burfict, the Raiders are currently thin at linebacker, especially in the middle. Whitehead, who has played outside for the first four games of the season, will move inside to replace his suspended teammate. Whitehead played in the middle for the Lions during his six-year stint in Detroit and his first season in Oakland.

"Tahir is capable of handling all that," said Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "He did it for us a year ago. He was doing some of it already when Vontaze got ejected from the game the other day, Tahir went in there and handled it seamlessly, so he'll be the head role on that thing, and I think he will do a really good job for us."

The relative uncertainty at the second level is a boon to the rookie Montgomery, who has the second-most rushing yards among rookies (behind Jacobs) but has yet to have a real breakout game. The Bears have been showing more interest in leaning on Montgomery, but the results haven't quite been there.

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