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Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Prediction

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler

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The Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals face off Sunday at Soldier Field in a battle between the only two remaining original NFL teams.

The Bears (0-1) host the Cardinals (1-0) after a tough last-minute home loss to division rival Green Bay last week after quarterback Jay Cutler threw an interception to linebacker Clay Matthews with just under three minutes to go.

The Cardinals are coming off an impressive victory at home against the Saints, where wide receiver John Brown caught four passes for 46 yards and a score, while Larry Fitzgerald reeled in 87 yards receiving.

The Cardinals defense has only given up 20 or more points in three of their last 20 games, best in the league over that span. With a Bears offense still trying to learn a new system, on top of injuries to their top three receivers, and a makeshift offensive line, the Cardinals could be in for a high-scoring day in Chicago.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Cardinals -2.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Cardinals’ Front Seven Against Bears’ Offensive Line

Kyle Long is only in his second game as a starting right tackle in the NFL, and his first start wasn't the prettiest of things. Expect Arizona to send heavy-right blitz packages at Long to get the young tackle flustered in hopes of forcing early pressure and/or turnovers.

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2. Chris Johnson

Remember CJ2K? The former 2,000-yard rusher for the Titans found a home with the Cardinals this offseason after a lackluster year in Gotham with the Jets.

Starting running back Andre Ellington is sidelined with an injury, so Johnson gets the nod as the starter. The Cardinals rushed very well against the Saints last week, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, a vast improvement from their NFC-worst 3.1 YPC in 2014.

Johnson isn't the same rusher he used to be, but with the Bears’ defense being one of the worst rushing defenses last season, and not having improved much, expect the Cardinals to attack that weakness early and often.

3. Alshon Jeffery vs. Patrick Peterson

Alshon Jeffery is the guy in Chicago now with Brandon Marshall gone to the Jets. Jeffery is battling through lingering calf and hamstring injuries and is listed as Questionable, but the Bears hope to have their top target out there. If he plays, Jeffery will be tested by a stout Cardinals secondary. This is his first real test as the Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver, and he has to perform.

Final Analysis

The Cardinals were the hottest team in football last season before losing starting quarterback Carson Palmer to a torn ACL. They've improved offensively, and now have a rushing attack to relieve pressure off Palmer. The Bears are lost defensively and are battling injuries and inconsistencies on offense. This game could get ugly in a hurry.

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Prediction: Cardinals 34, Bears 14

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.