The toll exacted from the Bears via injury this week left a bleak picture.
It's a team with a four-game losing streak, three of the next four games coming against division leaders and the one that isn't is an early Thursday game with little preparation time. The Bears had trouble beating Detroit last year when they had a full week and everything to lose and the Lions just tied Pittsburgh, although no one mentioned if Dan Campbell's team also had to beat Tony Corrente.
So lump their Thanksgiving Day road game in with the three division leaders.
Although it seems futile without Khalil Mack, without Akiem Hicks, without Allen Robinson and maybe even Eddie Jackson, the Bears resist the pity party. It's good because Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens just got embarrassed by Miami and can't afford to offer any sympathy Sunday at Soldier Field.
"We have a mentality heading into the week regardless of where we're at with our players of knowing that we're going to do this thing together and there's no excuses," coach Matt Nagy said. "What you feel in our building and our locker room is just that, our guys are flying around. They're making plays. They're practicing hard.
"They understand. When you have a significant player like Khalil, the impact hits you harder, right?"
The Bears have to hit back harder.
Here's who wins at Soldier Field Sunday and why.
Bears Running the Ball
Taking into account Justin Fields' scrambling, David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and the return of Damien Williams, the Bears are equipped even to run on Calais Campbell, Josh Bynes and Co. The Ravens may be the fourth-ranked run defense but the Bears ran on the Rams, Steelers and Packers and those were good run defenses. The Vikings, Bengals and Colts all went over 100 yards rushing on the Ravens so it can be done. A team can't fall behind and try to lean on the run, though. No Edge.
Bears Passing the Ball
When you've got the league's worst passing team against the league's worst pass defense, it figures to be a standoff, right? It is. But the interesting aspect will be whether Justin Fields can continue the passing success he had at the end of the Steelers game even without Robinson. Minus Robinson, Darnell Mooney will get more attention, and how does he then get open? It looks like Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham and Jesse James need to have big roles here as targets. The Ravens have given up 290 passing yards or more in five games and 390 or more in three of them, so they invite the passer to attack. Their pass rush is middle of the road with 19 sacks, and needs to rely on blitzing. Their one key weapon is Campbell swatting down passes at the line. No Edge.
Ravens Running the Ball
The Bears have spent the week talking about Eddie Goldman's improvement, but they lost Danny Trevathan and he just played his best game of the year, too. And they lack their best run stopper, Akiem Hicks. Mack was a load for tackles to block in the run game, just like in the passing game. The Ravens have running back Latavius Murray back and he pummeled the Bears in their last meeting while he was with New Orleans. Toss in Devonta Freeman and it's sufficient to occupy the Bears defense. Oh by the way, the best Ravens runner hasn't even been mentioned. Trying to tackle Lamar Jackson is like trying to tackle Gale Sayers, except he can throw. Edge to the Ravens.
Ravens Passing the Ball
The saving grace for the Bears on pass defense has been their pass rush. Even without Mack for the past few games they achieved one with Robert Quinn, and needed it because their secondary has difficulty covering anyone. Their ranking of 10th against the pass is about as deceptive a number as they have. Jackson is at his best when he can get one-on-one coverage with teams worrying about his running, and then hits for big gains to tight end Mark Andrews or wideout Hollywood Brown. The Bears can't afford to take the Miami route of blitzing because they have deficiencies as man-to-man pass defenders. Edge to the Ravens.
They're going against a head coach who was a special teams master, John Harbaugh. Baltimore has the league's best kicker of all time in Justin Tucker and Devin Duvernay leads the NFL in punt return average, while the Bears have escaped the basement at covering punts are still 30th in the league. Edge to the Ravens.
The real mismatch here doesn't involve Matt Nagy against John Harbaugh. It's the Nagy-Bill Lazor offense trying to match wits with Don Martindale's defense. He is often mentioned as head coaching material after firings league-wide. The Bears coaching staff has had a real problem with handling bye weeks, going 0-for-3 so far. In fact, the Bears have lost their last seven coming out of byes. Edge to the Ravens.
The Line: Ravens by 6 (over/under 44 1/2).
BearDigest Record to date: 8-1 straight up, 8-1 vs. the spread.
BearDigest Prediction: Ravens 27, Bears 20.
The Bears think they established some offensive momentumdow against Pittsburgh and maybe saw Justin Fields budding but they're not established and now are down a receiver. Jackson and the Ravens already know what they can do on offense and the defense they're doing it against is much less effective without Hicks, Mack and Trevathan.