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Chicago Sun Times
Chicago Sun-Times
21 Oct 2023
https://chicago.suntimes.com/authors/mark-potash


NextImg:Bears vs. Raiders — What to Watch 4

Key matchup

Former Packer Davante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Over the last five full seasons, he leads all receivers with 532 receptions (106.4 per season), 6,826 yards (1,365 per season) and 61 touchdowns in 74 games. 

But playing with three quarterbacks — Jimmy Garoppolo, rookie Aidan O’Connell and veteran Brian Hoyer — Adams’ production has dipped slightly this season. He has 39 receptions for 471 yards (12.1 yards per catch) and three touchdowns in six games (78.5 yards per game). And he has just one game of 100-plus yards this season after having 33 in his previous 74 games (44.6%) from 2018 to 2022. After being targeted just six times in the Raiders’ last two games, he went on a “Just give me the damn ball” rant this week, demanding more. 

For the record, the Raiders are 0-2 when Adams is targeted 10 or more times this season and 3-1 when he’s targeted nine or fewer times. But when a diva receiver is unhappy — especially one as proven as Adams — it’s best to listen to him.

The Bears are prepared for Adams to more of a focal point, with veteran Jaylon Johnson likely to get the bulk of coverage against him — but not all of it, as the Bears don’t usually allow for one corner to shadow even a star receiver. Still, it’s a matchup Johnson craves and sees as his responsibility. 

Trending

The Bears have been outscored 53-15 in the third quarter this season, the largest point-differential (minus-38) in the NFL. The Raiders have been outscored 34-6 in the third quarter this season, the third-worst differential (minus-28). 

Player to watch

Undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent will make his first start after replacing Justin Fields in the third quarter last week. His numbers were unimpressive: 10-for-14 for 83 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 56.5 passer rating. But in his final two drives, the Bears averaged 6.9 yards per play, leading them to a touchdown on the first one and to the Vikings’ 35 on the second one before an interception on an underthrown deep ball to DJ Moore.

Both of Bagent’s major errors — the interception and a strip-sack fumble that was returned for a touchdown — were a result of poor protection. So, yet another makeshift offensive line will have to be better in support of Bagent in this one. 

X-factor

The unknown with Bagent could be a boon or a disaster. His last start was for Shepherd University against Colorado Mines in the Division II playoffs — a 44-13 loss. His moxie is real and intriguing, but only if the Bears’ protection and supporting cast give him a fair chance to use it.