Find out how to watch the Bears vs. Broncos on Sunday, Sept. 15.
It is a case of familiar faces in new places Sunday in Denver, where Broncos coach Vic Fangio faces the former defense he helped turn into one of the league’s most formidable units as the Chicago Bears pay a visit.
Fangio finally landed his first NFL head coaching job this offseason when the Broncos tabbed him to replace Vance Joseph. Fangio spent the previous four seasons as defensive coordinator with the Bears, helping them win the NFC North title last year with a tenacious defense that ranked first against the run, while leading the NFL with 27 interceptions and 36 total takeaways.
His new defense in Denver has a pair of standout edge rushers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but overall it remains a large work in progress after the Broncos started their season with a 24-16 loss at archrival Oakland on Monday night.
Neither Miller nor Chubb—or anyone else for the Broncos—failed to dirty Raiders quarterback Derek Carr as he shredded Denver’s defense for 259 yards and a touchdown, while connecting on 22 of 26 passes. The defense’s shortcomings were most glaring on third down as Oakland converted 10 of 14 attempts.
There was a lack of sustained cohesion on the offensive side of the ball in Joe Flacco’s debut with the Broncos. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 268 yards and a scoring touchdown, but that one-yard toss to Emmanuel Sanders took place with 2:15 to play.
In his defense, Flacco was also the victim of a drop in the end zone by DaeSean Hamilton in the third quarter that would have pulled Denver within 14-10. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay continued to share running duties for the Broncos, combining for 99 yards on 21 carries.
Sanders, who missed the final four games last season with a torn Achilles, finished with five catches for 86 yards, while second-year wideout Courtland Sutton had a career-best 120 yards on seven receptions.
Fangio’s intimate knowledge of Chicago’s offense will undoubtedly create a challenge for second-year coach Matt Nagy as the two matched wits in a full season’s worth of practices. While the Bears are considered Super Bowl contenders, there has been some pumping of the brakes on that talk after the offense failed to ignite in a 10-3 home loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 5 that kicked off the NFL’s 100th season.
Mitch Trubisky was sacked five times while throwing for 228 yards. His unsatisfactory night concluded with an interception in the end zone by former teammate Adrian Amos to snuff a potential game-tying touchdown drive.
Nagy tried using all-purpose back Tarik Cohen more as a slot receiver than last season to mixed results -- Cohen had a team-high eight receptions, but finished with only 49 yards as Green Bay’s lateral defensive speed frustrated Trubisky and company all game. Wide receiver Allen Robinson may have been the only Bears player to acquit himself well offensively, totaling seven catches for 102 yards.
Chicago’s defense looks to have made a seamless transition from Fangio to Chuck Pagano, as it held Green Bay to 47 yards rushing and 213 overall. Three passing plays accounted for 103 of those yards, but all three were key plays in the two scoring drives the Packers had.
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack is no stranger to terrorizing the Broncos, having recorded 10 sacks in eight games with the Raiders before being dealt to Chicago before the start of last season. Five of those takedowns came in a 15-12 Oakland victory at Denver in 2015.
How to Watch Bears vs Broncos
When: Sunday, Sept. 15
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch on fuboTV. Try for free.