1:00 PM ET, November 8, 2009
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Neither team has looked primed for a lengthy playoff run of late, but the Cardinals return to Soldier Field on Sunday with a one-game lead in the NFC West and looking to win four straight on the road for the first time in 27 years.
The teams last met in a Monday night game in Week 6 of the 2006 season, as the unbeaten Bears visited a struggling Arizona club. The Cardinals, though, led 23-3 early in the fourth quarter as Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman committed six turnovers.
The Bears rallied to win 24-23, getting a pair of defensive touchdowns and Devin Hester's 83-yard punt return for a score with less than three minutes left.
The Cardinals (4-3) made their own run to the Super Bowl last season, but have been inconsistent in 2009 after losing to Pittsburgh in the final minute of the title game.
Arizona had its three-game winning streak snapped last week with a mistake-filled 34-21 loss to visiting Carolina. The Cardinals failed to extend their division lead over San Francisco, which has lost three in a row.
Kurt Warner matched a career high with five interceptions and lost a fumble. The Panthers returned one of the INTs for a touchdown and converted two other turnovers into field goals.
"You always are crossing bridges or facing obstacles as a football team in this league," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Obviously, one for us is being able to play consistently after we've had some success."
The Cardinals fell to 1/3 at home, surpassing their loss total there from each of the last two seasons. They have been much better away from Phoenix, matching last season's total of three road victories.
Arizona last won four straight away from home Sept. 12-Dec. 19, 1982. The Cardinals hope to have one of their top receivers available as they look to match that run.
Anquan Boldin re-aggravated a right ankle sprain last week and is day-to-day. He caught three passes against the Panthers to became the franchise's all-time leader with 537 receptions.
"If I'm able to run, I'm going to play football," Boldin said.
The Bears (4-3) will attempt to win four in a row at home for the first time since 2006, but they hardly looked dominant last week as they avoided a third straight loss by defeating woeful Cleveland 30-6.
Despite changes to the offensive line, Jay Cutler was sacked a season-high four times and a late hit to the chin in the second quarter left him with a bloody tongue.
Cutler was 17 of 30 for 225 yards but failed to throw a touchdown for the first time in seven games with the team. He was also intercepted for the sixth time in three games.
The Bears failed to score a touchdown until late in the first half despite driving inside the Browns' 15-yard line four times.
"We've got a lot of work to do. It's good to get a win at home but offensively we've got to get to work," Cutler said.
Chicago did have its best rushing performance of the season with 170 yards, with Matt Forte picking up 90 of those and scoring twice. After rushing for 1,238 yards as a rookie, Forte has 408 nearly midway through this year.
The Bears defense also allowed a season-low 191 yards but has one sack over its last three contests.
"Even though Cleveland's struggling on offense, it felt good to go out there and execute defensively," linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "I'm sure when we watch the tape, we'll realize that we didn't play perfect football, but especially with some of the teams we've got coming up in the next month, we need something to build on. This is definitely a good start."
The Bears have won five of six meetings since the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988. Chicago lost 10-7 at Soldier Field on Dec. 19, 1982, during the Cardinals' four-game road win streak.
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After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Cardinals-Bears matchup.
1. Attack the middle of Chicago's defense: This is especially true if Tommie Harris (knee) is unable to play. Arizona uses a lot of double-tight end sets and might choose to play heavy at Chicago and give Beanie Wells plenty of downhill touches. The Bears will be reluctant to bring a safety up to the line of scrimmage considering the Cardinals' weaponry. Also, Chicago has had a tough time limiting opposing running backs as pass-catchers, which could bode well for Tim Hightower.
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|Avg Points Allowed||20.5||23.9|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ARI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ARI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 3-1|
|Oct 16, 2006||ARI 23, CHI 24|
|Nov 30, 2003||ARI 3, @CHI 28|
|Oct 14, 2001||ARI 13, @CHI 20|