RAVENS PASSING GAME: Joe Flacco finally has a little momentum, having snapped his streak of 10 games with an interception and opened up the downfield passing game a bit in the victory over the Oakland Raiders. He still hasn’t passed for 250 yards in a game this year. Mike Wallace is two catches shy of 500 for his career. The Ravens recognize the importance of getting him into the game early. They badly want to get Breshad Perriman involved more. Like last week, the Ravens tackles will be tested against a strong front.
BEARS PASSING GAME: In his debut Monday, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky showed athleticism, arm strength and poise, but his late interception cost the Bears in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Chicago likes to get Trubisky out of the pocket on rollouts and bootlegs, which suits the quarterback’s strengths. The Bears are lacking in downfield targets. Slot receiver Kendall Wright is their top option. Tight end Zach Miller is a threat, too. Second-year center Cody Whitehair has had problems with shotgun snaps.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: With Terrance West sidelined with a calf injury, the Ravens figure to split the work between Alex Collins and Buck Allen. Collins’ fumbling problems probably make it more likely that Allen gets the goal-line carries and is on the field if the Ravens are protecting a late lead. Still, Collins’ league-leading 7.1 average per rush is hard to ignore. A key to the Ravens’ much-improved running game beyond Greg Roman’s designs has been the play of feisty center Ryan Jensen.
BEARS RUNNING GAME: The Bears rushed for 222 yards in a Week 3 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Otherwise, the explosive two-headed rushing tandem of Jordan Howard and elusive rookie Tarik Cohen has been pretty quiet. Cohen’s snaps have decreased in recent weeks as the Bears rely even more on Howard, who had 1,313 rushing yards and six touchdowns as a rookie in 2016. Howard has rushed for more than 80 yards once in five games. He eclipsed that mark 10 times last year.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens prioritize having a dominant run defense, so their current standing — they rank 23rd in the NFL, allowing an average of 123.4 rushing yards per game — is not sitting well with team members. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams’ absence is noticeable every week as blockers double Michael Pierce and ultimately obstruct C.J. Mosley’s path to the ball carrier. The Ravens have allowed four rushing touchdowns over the past three games. They surrendered 10 all of last year.
BEARS RUSH DEFENSE: Chicago gets back middle linebacker Danny Trevathan after he served a one-game suspension for his vicious hit on the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams. The Bears are still banged up in the middle next to Trevathan. Left defensive end Akiem Hicks is Chicago’s top defensive player and he’ll be a handful for the right side of the Ravens’ offensive line against the run and pass. The Bears are allowing 100.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 13th in the NFL.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: With his unit struggling to get pressure on the quarterback in back-to-back games, defensive coordinator Dean Pees blitzed a lot against the Raiders, often sending in defensive backs. He figures to provide many different looks in an attempt to confuse Trubisky. The Bears’ tackles are average, so Terrell Suggs and the young edge rushers could factor Sunday. Teams are mostly attacking the Ravens in the middle of the field. The Ravens’ nine interceptions are one off the league lead, held by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
BEARS PASS DEFENSE: Like the Raiders last week, the Bears don’t have an interception. They’ve gone 162 consecutive passing attempts since last year without picking a ball off. Hicks, former Raven Pernell McPhee and 2016 first-rounder Leonard Floyd are dangerous pass rushers. The Bears have battled injuries and inconsistency in the secondary, although Baltimore native Kyle Fuller has had a nice bounce-back year. The Bears are the only defense in the NFL without a player who has made a Pro Bowl.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Associate head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg continues to be pleased with the play of his young coverage teams. The Ravens are allowing the fourth-lowest kickoff return average (18.0) in the league and the seventh-lowest punt return average (4.2). Punter Sam Koch has had some close calls in recent weeks with potential blocks. The Ravens are using both Collins and Michael Campanaro on kickoff returns depending on the situation in the game.
BEARS SPECIAL TEAMS: Cohen, a rookie fourth-round draft pick out of North Carolina A&T, has drawn some comparisons to Darren Sproles because of his shiftiness as a punt returner. Former Raven Deonte Thompson had been their kick returner, but he was released Wednesday. Chicago recently had a kicker tryout because of concerns over Connor Barth, but they ultimately stuck with the incumbent. Pat O’Donnell has put 10 of his 24 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: Several players acknowledged that the victory over the Raiders provided a jolt of confidence, which was much needed after two subpar performances. Over the past 15 seasons, the Ravens are 24-4 against NFC teams at home and 15-3 in the John Harbaugh era. They also are 11-0 against rookie quarterbacks, allowing just three touchdown passes in those 11 games. The Ravens are tied for 16th in the league in penalties, but they’re coming off a game in which they had just one.(EDGE: RAVENS)
BEARS INTANGIBLES: The insertion of Trubisky at quarterback over Mike Glennon has provided hope for the Bears, but they are just 10-27 in three seasons under head coach John Fox. They’ve lost 10 straight road games. The offense is devoid of weapons on the outside and the defense has some pieces, but is lacking in players who take the ball away. Chicago has repeatedly hurt itself with self-inflicted mistakes. The Bears have a league worst minus-9 turnover ratio and are the eighth-most penalized team in the NFL.
***PREDICTION: While Trubisky had some nice moments in his debut, the Bears didn’t look like a team Monday that is well-equipped to get a road win. Even after an impressive victory against the Raiders, the Ravens have plenty to prove themselves. This is a game they need to control. Flacco and company should make some plays against a defense that is solid but not dynamic. The defense should force Trubisky into a few mistakes. This game might not be pleasant on the eyes, but that matters little to the Ravens, who are at the point of their schedule where they could get on a bit of a roll.