Chicago

Bears vs. Cardinals — What to Watch 4

Key matchup

Even if the Bears can neutralize DeAndre Hopkins (35 receptions, 486 yards, 13.9 average, seven touchdowns) with cornerback Jaylon Johnson, that leaves a big challenge everywhere else with the Cardinals’ deep receiving corps. Christian Kirk (49-628, 12.8, 4), A.J. Green (34-538, 15.8, 3) and rookie Rondale Moore (47-413, 8.8, 1) give Kyler Murray (or Colt McCoy) several options for big plays in the passing game.

The Bears counter with a shaky corps of cornerbacks behind Johnson. Artie Burns, who replaced Kindle Vildor against the Lions, was burned almost immediately for a 39-yard touchdown pass. He acquitted himself well after that, but that was against a Lions offense that showed little interest in passing downfield.

Vildor could return in a rotation with Burns after being benched last week. Xavier Crawford faces a tough challenge vs. Kirk & Co. as the nickel back — he’s the Bears’ third attempt there, after injured Week 1 starter Duke Shelley and Marqui Christian.

Trending

The Cardinals not only are 6-0 on the road but have won every road game by 10 or more points — including victories over the Titans (38-13), Rams (37-20), Browns (37-14), 49ers (31-17) and Seahawks (23-13). They’re averaging 32.8 points on the road and have won twice on the road with Colt McCoy at quarterback (49ers, Seahawks).

The Bears are 2-3 at home and have lost their last three games at Soldier Field — against the Packers (24-14), 49ers (33-22) and Ravens (16-13).

Player to watch

Bears second-year wide receiver Darnell Mooney is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games against the Ravens (five receptions, 121 yards, 24.2 average, one touchdown) and Lions (5-123, 24.6 average).

Mooney, who also had five catches for 125 yards against the Lions at Soldier Field in Week 4, leads the Bears with 46 receptions for 694 yards (15.1 average) and has three touchdowns.

The Cardinals rank fifth in total defense and fourth in passing yards allowed and passing yards allowed per attempt. They have allowed three 100-yard receivers — Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (4-115), 49ers tight end George Kittle (6-101) and Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (4-101)

X-factor

The Bears and Cardinals have been missing productive players recently, and their availability will be a key factor. Murray (ankle) and Hopkins (hamstring) are game-time decisions, according to Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, but both are expected to play. It remains to be seen if they are affected by the layoff and the residual impact of their injuries.

The Bears could be down several key players. Linebacker Khalil Mack is out for the season with a foot injury. Defensive end Akiem Hicks (ankle) is out. Wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) is doubtful, and linebacker Roquan Smith (hamstring) is questionable. The next men up will be challenged to fill those voids.

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