Bears-Jets: 3 matchups to watch in Week 12

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(670 The Score) It’s Week 12. Frankly, it's bleak in Chicago. Quarterback Justin Fields may not miss any time with a left shoulder injury or he may miss the rest of the season. At least the Bears are being transparent about it though! If Fields can’t go, that means backup quarterback Trevor Siemian is up next, which is exciting news for like 45% of Chicago media and literally no one else. (We can’t let them get away with any self-deprecating jokes about Northwestern. We must hold the line.) This Sunday, the Bears are headed to New Jersey to take on a Jets team that's somehow both a dumpster fire and two games over .500. Here are a few matchups to keep an eye on while you avoid watching Siemian-Mike White like your life depends on it.

Bears C Sam Mustipher vs. Jets DT Quinnen Williams
Reader, the Bears are in TROUBLE. Williams is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. In 10 games, he has nine sacks (a career-high), nine quarterback hits (a career-high) and 19 hurries (on pace for a career-high). Among all interior defensive tackles, Pro Football Focus ranks Williams first in run defense (87.0), fourth in overall defense (90.7) and seventh in pass rush (83.7). As a whole, the Jets’ defense ranks No. 6 in ESPN’s run stop rate and No. 11 in pass rush win rate. I could easily keep going, but it feels like you maybe get the picture by now? There’s perhaps a debate to be had about how Mustipher has performed as a run blocker, but his pass blocking stats are pretty clear-cut. I don’t imagine Siemian is going to tuck the ball and pick up a full head of steam behind a pulling guard quite as often as Fields has been, which means an extra dozen terrifying three- or five-step drops. Please, Teven Jenkins: You’re their only hope.

Bears WR Chase Claypool vs. Jets CB Sauce Gardner 
If you take anything away from this piece, it should be that the Jets’ defense is frightening. You know all those stats I just listed about how good Williams is as an interior defensive lineman? Take all of those, turn them into pass defending stats and you have Gardner. And Gardner’s a rookie! He has only allowed 22 receptions on 50 targets (44%) for 208 yards in 10 games. He’s constantly around the ball – his 11 pass breakups lead the league, and his reception percentage (44%) is third-best among qualified cornerbacks. Gardner will more than likely get "stuck" with the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but those are also DPOY numbers. Meanwhile, Claypool continues to be absent in the Bears’ offense – we probably aren't quite at full panic levels yet, but it’s certainly close. Five receptions – with the longest being 12 yards – for 32 yards over three games is the stuff alarm bells were made for, but Bears fans had the patience to let Cole Kmet off the hook for putting up those lines for like two years, so maybe they can apply some of that here? We’re just asking for one cool deep shot to Claypool. Just one! (Maybe two.)

Jets WR Garrett Wilson vs. Bears S Jaquan Brisker
Wilson is yet another uber-talented rookie on the Jets who makes you realize just how hard the team is going to move on from quarterback Zach Wilson this offseason. He leads the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (533) and yards per game (53.3). Corey Davis, who’s the primary deep-shot guy for the Jets, is day-to-day with a knee issue that has kept him out of practice for almost two weeks now. Garrett has a weird profile so far – of pass catchers on the team, he’s sixth in average depth of target (8.3 yards) and fourth in yards before catch, but he leads the team in percentage of air yards while also facing more press coverage than any other Jets receiver. Basically, their passing game is a mess. But Wilson is a stud, and if Davis can’t go, you’d imagine Wilson gets stretched vertically a bit more than usual. Brisker is already turned into a reliable safety who can come up and make a play while also covering those deep balls, and it seems like he’ll once again have to do a good chunk of both Sunday.

Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.

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