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Even at 9-2 Cardinals Have Flaws

Trevis Gipson is leaving an impression with his play in place of Khalil Mack against both the run and the pass, but particularly as a pass rusher.

The goal achieved last week of ending the losing streak leaves the Bears facing the next step—trying to build their own winning streak.

They get to attempt this against the team with the NFL's best record. You can't have everything. 

They're going from the worst team in the NFL to facing the best. There will be a transition.

"Now, you get to start with one of the best teams in the NFL coming off a bye week," coach Matt Nagy said. "That's a heck of a challenge. But when you break that losing streak, the mentality, it just helps you. That's just natural."

The Cardinals might be 9-2 but they lost to Green Bay and have their own flaws. They wouldn't have been blown out by Carolina if they were without weakness.

For the Bears to start a winning streak they'll need to take advantage of these three matchups where the Cardinals are most vulnerable.

Bears OLB Trevis Gipson vs. Cardinals RT Kelvin Beachum

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It might seem surprising to see Gipson, the backup to Khalil Mack, rated with a big edge, and it really isn't because he's facing a weak link. Beachum is an average to slightly below average right tackle with a Pro Football Focus rating 55th among all tackles at a grade of 63.1. Gipson might be the best kept secret of the Bears defense. After a game last week when he knocked a ball loose, he is pulling down the 11th best pass rushing grade of all edge rushers in the league, and 22nd best grade of all edges overall. Gipson has been on the field now for 314 plays, so it's no mathematical fluke that he grades this high. He has three sacks, four quarterback hits, nine pressures and 24 tackles. At 6-foot-4, 263 pounds he benefits in this one by not facing a behemoth mauler type at right tackle as the 32-year-old Beachum is 6-3, 308.

Bears WR Darnell Mooney vs. Cardinals Byron Murphy Jr.

Some of the numbers suggest Murphy is a difficult matchup for most receivers, like his 76.3 passer rating against or 57.4 completion percentage when targeted. However, there is another stat playing heavily into Mooney's matchup with the third-year cornerback and that is the cardinals give up 14.86 yards a completion on completions to his side deep, which is a whopping 5.05 yards longer than any other area of the Cardinals pass defense and 29th in the league. This is a place the Bears can go if they get the time to throw deep. Mooney has two straight 100-yard games and three on the season. It's possible Allen Robinson will return this week from a hamstring injury suffered against Pittsburgh Nov. 8. It would open up the field for Mooney if the defense is focusing more on Robinson.

Bears left guard Cody Whitehair vs. Cardinals DT Corey Peters

Peters comes in ranked 89th by PFF out of 123 interior defensive linemen. The 6-foot-3, 335-pounder has the size to dominate inside but is not having his best season. The Cardinals rank 31st in the NFL at stopping runs up the middle, according to NFLGSIS location statistics. They yield 5.1 yards per rushing attempt up the middle. 

Whitehair ranks 28th out of PFF's 81 guards graded and has gradually worked his way back up after a slow start. The problem the Bears have had isn't necessarily on their linemen individually but the scheme. They don't usually run the ball well when they have a pocket passer who is no threat to run the ball on the zone read play. It's been this way for over two years and especially was apparent last year during a six-game losing streak. This year the problem hasn't been as evident because Andy Dalton has only started and then completed two games. The Bears have much to prove but there is opportunity for them with David Montgomery running in the middle of the line.

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