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Where Bears Can Hurt the Texans

Several potential mismatches favor the Bears in Sunday's game at Soldier Field against the Houston Texans.

Until a team fits the correct pieces in for the defensive scheme used by the Bears and Houston Texans, defending the run can be a bit like hanging fresh meat in front of a wild beast.

Opposing ground attacks have heard the dinner bell and they come running.

They see the chance to run the ball with ease and they're going to do it relentlessly, again, and again and again against a defense with a natural weakness against the run, and a real problem when the personnel doesn't fit the scheme.

Both the Bears and the Texans have had problems stopping the run so far and their defenses will struggle overall until the curtains match the carpet, so to speak.

However, for the Bears this can present opportunity on offense in Week 3 at Soldier Field. It's here where they can find some of their greatest advantages as they try to beat Lovie Smith's new team and go 2-1 on the year.

Here are the biggest mismatches favoring the Bears against the Houston Texans.

Bears G Cody Whitehair vs. Texans DT Maliek Collins

The Texans brought Collins back as a free agent and thought of the 6-foot-2, 311-pound three technique as a necessary piece. However, he hasn't been that in two games, particularly defending the run. Pro Football Focus gives him the worst grade overall of the top three Texans defensive tackles and he is rated currently the 80th of 94 defensive tackles in the league. Like with the Bears defense, the Texans require a dominant three technique to play the Tampa-2 and Collins does not seem to be this player. He has been better rushing the passer than he has stopping the run. Whitehair has been fairly steady so far and normally has been the most consistent of Bears blockers during his time in Chicago. The best three techniques rely on quickness into the gap but Whitehair is a quick lineman. His problems have come more from power-laden defensive tackles.

Bears TE Ryan Griffin vs. Texans LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

Anticipate the Bears going with two tight ends plenty while facing this defense. They'll try to get one of the tight ends to block Grugier-Hill in the running game, usually the side Griffin will line up. Grugier-Hill is highly thought of by the Texans but hasn't really lived up to that promise yet. According to PFF, he has a 29.8 PFF grade defending the run this year, one of the worst marks in the league. He is average against the pass so far, but the Bears might find the running game they unleashed on Green Bay in the second half last week is the type of thing they can use to beat Houston's Tampa-2. Beating Houston at basic football with linebackers off the ball  being blocked by tight ends or pulling guards can lead to big gains. And watch out for Bears wide receivers blocking downfield for big gainers, as well.

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Bears WR Darnell Mooney vs. Texans CB Derek Stingley Jr.

Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon has had a rough start to his rookie year but compared to the Texans' first-round draft pick this year, Stingley, Gordon is Pro Bowl material.  Stingley has allowed 14 catches when targeted in two games according to Sportradar. PFF grades him the 97th ranked cornerback out of the 103 they have grades on and he is 98th against the pass. Mooney has been invisible so far but is obviously the best Bears receiver and they will likely try to feature him after he made only two catches for 4 yards so far this season. He'll move all over the formation. Do the Bears really trust Justin Fields to throw, like they say, and do it against zone coverage? We'll find out, and most likely they'll be trying to target the rookie cornerback.

Bears DT Justin Jones vs. Texans G Kenyon Green

Green has played effectively at times in the past but is the 50th-ranked guard out of 70 PFF has graded at 49.5. Jones has been largely ineffective as a run defender but has been getting good penetration at times as a three technique should. However, he's sometimes out of his gap or causes a bubble by being too far out of sync with the rest of the pass rush. This is a position where the Bears can do damage because quarterback Davis Mills is not the highly mobile type QB they faced in each of the first two games, although he can step up or away from the rush enough to throw. He's just not taking off with it as 44 rushing yards in 13 career starts suggests. An interior rush here can be devastating for Houston. The Colts and Broncos combined for six sacks of Mills.

Bears CB Jaylon Johnson vs. Texans WR Nico Collins

Collins, the Michigan standout, had a so-so rookie year with 33 catches and a TD and enjoys a big reach edge over Johnson, who is 6-foot with a 36 1/2-inch vertical. Collins is 6-4 with a 37 1/2-inch vertical. But Collins has barely caught half his career targets (39 of 72) and Johnson has given up only two completions this year for 28 yards. PFF grades Johnson as the fifth-best cornerback in the NFL for the first two weeks at 78.8. He's also one of the few Bears defenders playing well against the run, with a 90.5 grade there.

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