Chicago Bears (3-5, 3-5 ATS) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3, 4-3), 8:15 p.m., MNF
Brolley’s Bears Stats and Trends
Chicago is 1-4 ATS in its last five road games.
The Bears have played under the total in six of their last seven games.
Khalil Herbert is likely to lead this backfield in work this week, but the Bears could push to get David Montgomery (knee, IR) back into action this week. Herbert has seen 18+ carries in four straight games and he’s added 2+ catches in each of his last three contests. He’s also seen 80% of the snaps or more in each of the last three games, so this could be an ugly backfield for fantasy if Montgomery is able to step into 8-10 carries off the IR this week. The Steelers limited Nick Chubb to 16/61 rushing last week, and they’re giving up the sixth-fewest FPG (19.4) to RBs this season.
Justin Fields had his best fantasy performance (26.3 FP) in Week 8 with HC Matt Nagy (COVID) away from the team. Fields looked like a different player, completing 19/27 passes for 175 yards (6.5 YPA), one TD, and one INT against the 49ers. Most importantly, he was aggressive as a runner and he posted a season-best 10/103/1 rushing. The Steelers have allowed just two QBs (Carr, Rodgers) to reach 20+ FP in seven games this season.
Darnell Mooney is the top option in this anemic passing attack, which isn’t saying a whole lot right now. He had his fourth game with 12+ FP last week with 6/64 receiving, and he’s seen 5+ targets in five straight games and in 7-of-8 contests. Allen Robinson still has yet to reach 11 FP in a single game this season, and he’s seen just four targets in each of his last two games. The Steelers have contained limited passers the last two weeks, but they’re still giving up the 11th-most FPG (38.2) to WRs.
Cole Kmet has yet to hit double-digit FP this season, but Kmet does have 12/116 receiving on 17 targets in the last three weeks. The Steelers haven’t allowed an opposing TE to reach double-digit FP since Darren Waller and Foster Moreau did it in Week 2.
Brolley’s Steelers Stats and Trends
Pittsburgh has failed to cover in its last seven opportunities as a favorite.
The Steelers are an AFC-best 6-1 toward unders, and they’re allowing just 16.3 points per game in their last three contests.
Najee Harris has reached 21+ touches and 21+ FP in five straight games, and he has 25+ touches in three straight contests. The Bears have given up 17+ FP to individual RBs in four straight games, and Eli Mitchell hung 18/137/1 rushing against Chicago last week.
Ben Roethlisberger has yet to reach 18+ FP in each of his first seven games. His play has ever so slightly improved in recent weeks after he completed 22/34 passes for 266 yards (7.8 YPA) and one TD in a victory over the Browns in Week 8. The Bears have allowed 23+ FP and multiple TDs to three consecutive quarterbacks (Jimmy G, Brady, Rodgers)
Diontae Johnson continues to be showered with opportunities, posting 15/169 receiving on 26 looks in his first two games without JuJu Smith-Schuster. Diontae had one bizarre game against the Broncos when he posted 2/72/1 receiving on just two targets, but he otherwise has seen double-digit targets in every game. He’s also posted 14+ FP in every game he’s appeared in this season. Deebo Samuel hung 6/171 receiving in this matchup last week, and the Bears are giving up the fifth-most FPG (41.6) to WRs.
Chase Claypool has been a major disappointment in his first two games since the Steelers lost JuJu to a season-ending shoulder injury. He mustered 4/45 receiving on just five targets (15% share) despite playing a season-best 97% of the snaps against the Broncos. Claypool has a combined 6/62 receiving on 12 targets since Smith-Schuster left the lineup. Mike Evans posted 6/76/3 receiving in this matchup in Week 7, and the Bears are giving up a generous 14.7 YPR to WRs this season.
Pat Freiermuth has started to spread his wings a bit with 12+ FP and seven targets in each of Pittsburgh’s last two games. He had his best game as a pro with Eric Ebron (hamstring) inactive in Week 8, posting 4/44/1 receiving on seven targets (20% share) against the Browns with a healthy 78% of the snaps. The Bears are giving up the second-fewest FPG (6.7) to TEs, but they haven’t faced the toughest schedule of TEs.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.1 (26th)
Plays per game: 64.9 (24th)
Pass: 53.5% (31st) | Run: 46.5% (2nd)
Pace: 28.7 (23rd)
Plays per game: 66.7 (18th)
Pass: 64.9% (8th) | Run: 35.1% (25th)
We’re capping off the Week 9 slate with a less than exciting MNF tilt. Overall, this is the worst game of the week with both sides well below-average in pace and plays. Chicago finally got off the mat last week for 22 points – which was just their fourth 20+ point performance of the year – and it marked their first game since Week 1 that went over the total. Meanwhile, you know the story with Pittsburgh at this point. They’ve cleared 20 points just three times and, as a result, have played like a dead under team just like Chicago. As large home favorites, I’m expecting a huge workload for Najee Harris. The Steelers have been way more run-heavy (50%) when they have a lead as opposed to when they’ve been behind on the scoreboard (26.3% run). This is a near perfect spot for Harris to continue his streak of 20+ FP to six-straight.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Three individuals stand out on Monday Night Football. All three play for the Steelers. One of those is also the most obvious wideout on the slate: Diontae Johnson. The Bears are throwing the fifth-most FPG at opposing WRs this season (41.5). Diontae has been provided with a target share of at least 32% in five-of-six games this season. And he’s fueling the ninth-most WR FPG (18.5) with the 11th-highest FP/Rt (0.51). Week 9 will bring Chicago’s exotic coverage rotation, featuring the highest rate of Cover 6. DJ ranks 11th-best with 0.45 FP/Rt over the last three years against Cover 6.
With down play in recent weeks, a matchup across from Jaylon Johnson doesn’t present as noteworthy at this stage. He’s commissioning 1.16 YPCS (42nd), 0.23 FP/CS (29th), 0.29 AY/CS (49th), and an 83.8 TPR (26th). With Diontae doing work all across the formation, even if Jaylon shows up with inspired play, sheer volume alone will push Diontae toward profit over value.
We finally saw significant strides in Justin Fields’ game last week. Expect to see more of the same until Fields is essentially the same type of player that oozed upside while at Ohio State. With improvements from Fields, expect the numbers for Allen Robinson II and Darnell Mooney to follow suit. If we could trust the Bears’ O-line to properly protect Fields from the vicious Pittsburgh pass rush, the passing offense would have every opportunity to find success against a vulnerable Steelers’ secondary.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Bears are getting HC Matt Nagy back from COVID protocols this week, which doesn’t make many Bears fans happy (the fact that Nagy is back, not that he’s recovered from COVID).
It was good to see Justin Fields play what was, by far, his best game as a Bear in Week 8, and it was the kind of fantasy upside we wanted from him when we pushed him as a Player to Target this off-season. But while it was great to see him run (!) in Week 8, it’s important to note that he threw for just 175 yards with a TD and a pick against the 49ers, and the Bears lost the game. There’s still a long way to go for Fields, and the Steelers have been a very stingy matchup for opposing QBs.
Anyway, OC Bill Lazor had a quote on Friday that makes it sound like this isn’t going to change any time soon…
Bears OC Bill Lazor when asked about WR Allen Robinson and his decline in production today:— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) November 5, 2021
"The reality is the way we’re playing football right now there are a lot of unhappy offensive pass catchers but they’re being professional and they’re trying to help us win. "
The Bears opened the window for RB David Montgomery (knee) back into the fold, and there’s a chance he plays Monday night. That would really put a damper into the Khalil Herbert breakout, especially given how tough the Steelers’ matchup is.
David Montgomery in some individual drills at practice this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/NR6WFm5iHu— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) November 4, 2021
The other two I consider — Chase Claypool and, if Eric Ebron (hamstring) is out, TE Pat Freiermuth. I still like this matchup for Claypool as a boom-or-bust WR3, and I don’t take much stock in the Bears’ numbers against TEs given their overall weak slate they’ve faced.