Arizona Cardinals (9-2, 8-3 ATS) at Chicago Bears (4-7, 5-6), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Cardinals Stats and Trends
Arizona has won five games by double-digits as an underdog this season, which is a first in the Super Bowl era.
The Cardinals survived the last three weeks without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins by winning and covering in two of their three contests heading into their Week 12 bye.
The Cardinals are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games.
Arizona has played under the total in seven straight games as a road favorite.
The Cardinals have taken the long view with Kyler Murray by resting him for the last month, and he should be close to 100% healthy for the final six games of the season after the long layoff. Murray had his worst fantasy performance (11.1 FP) of the season the last time we saw him against the Packers when he picked up his ankle injury on the final drive of Week 8. He had five performances of 22+ FP in five of his first eight games, but he ran for just 38 yards in his last four games without a rushing TD. The Bears are giving up the 11th-fewest FPG (18.1) to QBs this season, but they’ve been aided by playing Jared Goff, Tyler Huntley, and Ben Roethlisberger over their last three games.
DeAndre Hopkins hasn’t seen game action since he aggravated his hamstring injury on a long reception against the Packers on Thursday Night Football in Week 8. With Murray spreading the rock around in this loaded offense, Hopkins is averaging eight-year lows with 4.4/60.8/.9 receiving on 6.1 targets per game through eight games. The Bears are giving up the eighth-most FPG (37.1) to WRs this season.
Christian Kirk has seen 5+ targets in seven straight games, but he’s coming off his second-worst performance of the season with just 2/25 receiving against the Seahawks with Rondale Moore hogging 11 receptions for just 51 yards. Kirk has reached double-digit FP in five of his last seven games.
A.J. Green posted his two lowest snap shares in Weeks 10-11 (69%, 69%) even with Hopkins out of the lineup, but he may have been on a snap count after sitting out Week 9 with COVID. We’ll see if he’s back to being a full-time player like he was through the first eight weeks of the season. He’s reached double-digit FP in six of his 10 contests after posting 4/78 receiving on seven targets against the Seahawks in Week 11. The Bears are giving up a healthy 14.1 YPR to WRs this season after Josh Reynolds got them for 3/70/1 receiving last week.
Zach Ertz posted season-highs across the board in targets (9), catches (8), receiving yards (88), and touchdowns (2) with Colt McCoy at quarterback against the Seahawks. He’s posted 3+ catches in each of his first five games with the Cardinals, and he’s seen snap shares of 73% or more in each of his last four games. T.J. Hockenson (3/35/1 receiving), Mark Andrews (8/73), and Pat Freiermuth (5/43/2) have each gone off in this matchup over their last three games, and the Bears could be down LB Roquan Smith (hamstring) this week.
James Conner will get at least one more game as the bellcow back with Chase Edmonds (ankle, IR) required to sit for one more game. Conner has seen 77% of the snaps or more in his three games as the main back (Edmonds got injured on the first drive in Week 9), and he’s averaging 21.6/112.0 scrimmage per game with five TDs in that span. The Bears are giving up the 14th-fewest FPG (22.4) to RBs this season after Jamaal Williams managed 20/83 scrimmage last week.
Brolley’s Bears Stats and Trends
The Bears are 8-2 toward unders.
Chicago is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.
Justin Fields is dealing with cracked ribs so there’s a chance he misses another game after resting against the Lions in Week 12. Fields posted a combined 45.4 FP in Weeks 8-9 before completing just four passes in two quarters in Week 11. Andy Dalton stepped into the lineup and posted 518/3 passing and 32.8 FP in six quarters of action against the Ravens and Lions. The Cardinals are giving up the third-fewest FPG (15.7) to QBs this season, including the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (219.5) to the position.
Darnell Mooney is the clear #1 option in Chicago’s passing game as we head into December with Allen Robinson (hamstring) vanishing from the face of the earth. Mooney posted 120+ receiving yards for the second straight week with A-Rob out of the lineup, as he finished with 5/123 receiving on eight targets in Chicago’s victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The speedy second-year WR has strung together four straight games with 12+ FP after doing it just three times in his first seven games. He will take small hits if Robinson and Fields return to the lineup in Week 13, but Mooney is playing too well to take out of fantasy lineups until further notice. Tyler Lockett went for 4/115 receiving in this matchup the time the Cardinals played.
Cole Kmet got back in the saddle with Dalton at quarterback in Week 12, posting 8/65 receiving on a season-high 11 targets against the Lions. Jimmy Graham has risen from the dead in recent weeks, stealing a touchdown last week and seeing exactly three targets in three straight games. Kmet has yet to score a touchdown so his ceiling is a bit limited, but he’s seen 6+ targets in four of his last five games. The Cardinals have given up more than eight FP to a TE just once this season.
David Montgomery has been a major disappointment since he came back from his knee injury. He’s yet to score 11+ FP in each of his first three games, averaging 14.7/55.7 rushing and 2.0/18.0 receiving per game in that span. The good news is that he’s handled 84% of the snaps or more in that stretch. The Cardinals are giving up a generous 4.7 YPC to RBs, but they’re giving up the 13th-fewest FPG (22.4) to the position this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27 (9th)
Plays per game: 64.7 (10th)
Pass: 54.9% (28th) | Run: 45.1% (5th)
Pace: 27.4 (13th)
Plays per game: 61.9 (21st)
Pass: 55.7% (26th) | Run: 44.3% (7th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
There's definitely some scoring upside in this game between these two top-10 offenses in pace, but we’re in a bit of a holding pattern with so many key players possibly returning from injury. As Joe points out below, the Bears offense has more scoring upside with Andy Dalton under center and him getting another start here will help the shootout appeal. Barring a surprise, the Cardinals will have Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins back here and this is a spot for them to get back rolling as the Bears allowed 38 (vs. Buccaneers), 33 (vs. 49ers), and 29 (vs. Steelers) in their three previous games before facing Tyler Huntley and Jared Goff in their last two.
Overall, this is the third-fastest game in adjusted combined pace and I’d be more confident in this game lighting up the scoreboard if Dalton does indeed start, but this is still not a good spot for the Bears offensively. The Cardinals have held their opponents to 20 or fewer points in 8-of-11 games with the only three teams able to break out being the Vikings (33 points in Week 2), Packers (24 points in Week 8), and Panthers (34 points in Week 10).
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
It sounds as though both Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins will suit up in Week 13. The two have taken quite the hiatus from action, last taking the field on October 28th. For a team with playoff aspirations, Murray and Hopkins should feel very fortunate that they still sit atop the NFC South despite missing the month of November with soft tissue strains. At the very least, the presence of Nuk will improve the matchups for his receiver teammates. As a left perimeter devotee, Hopkins will see coverage from Jaylon Johnson — the best the Bears have on the outside — on virtually every one of his routes. With normal nickelback Duke Shelley placed on IR, 2019 sixth-rounder Xavier Crawford stepped into his shoes last week. He may have had a solid game against the Lions, but he’s going to have his hands full with Christian Kirk this week.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The expectation from the Cardinals is that Kyler Murray (ankle) and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) will play this week for the first time since Week 8 — the Cardinals managed to go 2-1 with Colt McCoy at QB and then had their bye week, which is why Kliff Kingsbury clearly has his agent angling for a new deal from the Cardinals.
The ink had barely dried on Lincoln Riley’s contract at USC when Kingsbury’s name was floated as a potential replacement at Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has targeted Cardinals’ HC Kliff Kingsbury as one of the potential replacements for Lincoln Riley, league sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 28, 2021
Kingsbury has one year remaining on his contract after this season.
You think that last little detail got in there by accident? I’d expect a Kliff extension in Arizona soon. Anyway, Kliff is calling both Murray and Hopkins game-time decisions, but at least this is an early-slate game.
Kliff Kingsbury said both QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins will be game-time decisions against the Bears.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) December 3, 2021
Those with Murray and/or Hopkins will likely have no choice but to start them this week, and the other pass-catcher I actually feel best about with the Cardinals is TE Zach Ertz, especially given the state of the TE position overall. Since arriving in Arizona in Week 7, Ertz is tied with Mark Andrews as the overall TE3, behind only Travis Kelce and Pat Freiermuth.
Our Scott Barrett things this is a matchup for both teams to showcase their run games with James Conner and David Montgomery, and I’d agree. From the XFP Report:
“The raw volume, and certainly the production, has been somewhat lacking. But David Montgomery is no doubt a high end bell cow. He’s played on at least 80% of his team’s snaps in 5 of his last 5 healthy games, handling 86% of the backfield XFP over this span. For perspective, only Najee Harris has a snap share over 80%, and he’s also the only RB with a backfield XFP% over 80%. Still, he ranks just 27th in XFP/G (12.3) and only 28th in FPG (12.6).
James Conner, however, is an uber-bell cow. Or at least he has been without Chase Edmonds in the lineup. Over his last three games, he averages 18.0 carries, 5.3 targets, 20.7 XFP (RB4), and 25.1 FPG (RB3), while handling 82% of the backfield XFP (RB5).”
Conner will remain a bell cow this week — Chase Edmonds (ankle) won’t be back until Week 14.
Kliff Kingsbury said RB Chase Edmonds (ankle) and long snapper Aaron Brewer (forearm) won't return until the Rams game Dec. 13 on Monday night. He said LG Justin Pugh (calf) will be a game-time decision Sunday at Chicago.— Bob McManaman (@azbobbymac) December 1, 2021
And because of that, Scott thinks it’s a great spot for Conner again. Here he is from Start/Sit:
“With Chase Edmonds active, Conner was just a touchdown-or-bust (49.0 YFS) mid-range RB3 (11.5 FPG). Without Edmonds, he’s proven to be one of the highest-end bell cow RBs in fantasy. Over the last 4 weeks, he averages 18.0 carries, 5.3 targets, 20.7 XFP (RB4), and 25.1 FPG (RB3), on 80% of the snaps (RB2).
This week’s matchup looks somewhere between neutral and above-average. The Cardinals are favored by 8.0-points, and Chicago ranks 10th-worst in YPC allowed (4.43) and 11th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (14.1) to opposing RBs. Chicago also ranks top-7 in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs, but somewhere between bottom-10 and bottom-15 over the last 6 weeks (depending on whether or not you want to strip out last week’s game due to the D’Andre Swift injury).
The return of Kyler Murray should be a net positive as well. The threat of vultured touchdowns is much less of a concern now, due to Murray’s ailing ankle, and should in any case be offset by improved gamescript, more sustained drives, more red zone drives, etc. He’s a fringe-RB1 this week.”
From a passing-game standpoint, it’s impossible to ignore that the Bears’ offense has been better with Andy Dalton at the helm. It’s simply a fact. Blame whoever you want for it, but it is factual. Here are some tables from SIS, with Dalton on field and off:
With the exception of aDOT, which isn’t necessarily a “quality” stat but more of a descriptive one, the Bears’ passing game has been better with Dalton in literally every single category than it has been with Justin Fields. So if I have Darnell Mooney or Cole Kmet in my lineup, I want Dalton at QB this week over Fields (ribs). Wish granted.
Over the last two weeks, 24 of Dalton’s 62 passes — a whopping 39% — have been directed at Mooney. That number could stay that high if Allen Robinson (hamstring - doubtful) can’t play.