(670 The Score) Well, that week certainly didn’t go as planned! Bears fans responded to a tough loss in Green Bay on Sunday night by (checks notes) forcing their favorite team’s franchise quarterback into a public apology for (double checks notes) being upset after losing a football game. A great job by all! I’m sure nothing endears a player to a city more than when the team’s fan base pressures them into praising people for watching television. You’re both putting in that work! Fortunately, the Bears are back in Chicago for a nooner against the Texans this Sunday, which in theory should help restore Week 1 vibes. That’s the plan, at least. Here are some matchups to keep an eye on.
Bears QB Justin Fields vs. Texans coach Lovie Smith
Sometimes it feels lazy to always include Fields in a matchup to watch, but I’m also not wrong? Especially while the team has him throwing like 17 times a game? In the latest example of how league-wide trends are truly cyclical, Smith’s Tampa-2 defense – which even five years ago felt like a thing of the past – is suddenly (re)considered to be the most effective way to stop modern NFL offenses. Tampa-2 defenses basically beg teams to beat them by running the ball, which considering how the Bears’ ground game looked against the Packers might be pretty tempting. Can we all handle another week of pounding the rock? How is our blood pressure going to react if Fields only throws 20 passes Sunday? All week long, the Bears have talked about how much they trust Fields to throw the ball more and how they’re expecting to see that soon – but are they really going to give Fields the green light to uncork a few against a defense that’s predicated on taking away one of his best skills (deep passes)? This isn’t a rhetorical question, I’m actually asking you.
Bears TE Cole Kmet vs. Texans LB Christian Kirksey
Some of the softer spots in the Tampa-2 are, generally speaking, the space beneath the dropping Mike linebacker and the boundary area in front of the deep safeties but behind the cornerbacks covering the flats. Sounds like somewhere that a big-bodied, pass-catching tight end could thrive! You may have noticed that you haven’t noticed Kmet this season – the third-year Bears tight end doesn’t have a single catch yet. As the Texans’ middle linebacker, Kirksey has the unenviable responsibility of carrying vertical routes down the middle of the field while also keeping an eye on any crossing routes in front of him. He’s played well at times this season – certainly better than Kmet has. I remain convinced that while Kmet might not have the ceiling that people want (the Local Kid Boost remains a powerful force in the NFL world), he isn't this ineffective. Kmet is on the Bears in large part because of his presumed ability to take advantage of this exact type of mismatch, and one of these days it’s going to happen. Or maybe it won’t. But it’s still a matchup to watch ... and get mad at.
Bears CB Kyler Gordon vs. Texans WR Nico Collins
No offense to Collins, who played well in Houston's loss to Denver, but this is really more Week 3 Kyler Gordon vs. Week 2 Kyler Gordon. Gordon’s performance in Green Bay was bad enough to almost overshadow the fact that Fields completed just seven passes, which is really saying something when you think about how neurotic Bears fans are about their quarterbacks. Texans quarterback Davis Mills certainly isn't Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but I’d imagine that Houston’s coaching staff watched the tape from last week and has a clear idea of which cornerback to go after. It sorta sucks that Gordon, as a rookie with literally 120 minutes of game time to his name, has to constantly switch inside and out depending on what the defense is running, but that is, as they say, life in the NFL. Collins has looked like the preferred deep threat on a team that also employs Brandin Cooks, which speaks to what kind of a day might be in store for Gordon.
Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.