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Preview: Cardinals Return from Bye to Face Bears

How to watch information, previews, injuries and key players for the Arizona Cardinals' road game against the Chicago Bears.
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The Arizona Cardinals are back from the bye week and need a win to stay atop the NFC standings. 

While they were away, the Green Bay Packers took down the Los Angeles Rams to become the second team after Arizona to win their ninth game at 9-3. 

The Packers are off this week, but hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the 9-2 Cardinals. 

The Cardinals travel to their former city, Chicago, to face the 4-7 Bears on what is looking like a cold, rainy and windy afternoon. 

Like many Cardinals games over the last month, who will suit up remains a question mark, this time for both teams. 

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins remain questionable. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said they will each be game-day decisions. 

Chicago's rookie starting quarterback Justin Fields is listed as doubtful, and head coach Matt Nagy told reporters that veteran Andy Dalton will play in his place. 

Essential info

Need to knows 

Game date, time

Sunday, December 5 at 11 a.m.

TV

FOX with Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake

National radio

Sports USA Radio with Josh Appel and Mark Carrier

Cardinals radio

Arizona Sports 98.7 FM with Dave Pasch Analyst, Ron Wolfley, Paul Calvisi

Spanish radio

KHOV 105.1 FM with Luis Hernandez and Rolando Cantu

Betting line

Cardinals -7.5

Inside slant

Kingsbury said the Cardinals are refreshed after the bye week, and the potential return of several key players will be instrumental to their final stretch run. 

He wants to see improvement as far as consistency after the break. The Cardinals have had stellar games, especially on the road where they are 6-0 with all double-digit wins. 

But Kingsbury wants to see gradual improvement on all fronts. 

"At times, I thought we played really good, complementary football, but in certain games, we didn’t reach the level that we would like to," Kingsbury said. "I think our best football is out in front of us."

The Cardinals enter this matchup in the top five in scoring and points allowed in the NFL. 

The Bears, meanwhile, have a mid-tier scoring defense and have produced the fourth-fewest points in the NFL per game. 

Their offense has surpassed 20 points only three times all season. Arizona scored fewer than 20 just twice. 

Chicago leans on the run game, throwing the ball at the third-lowest percentage in the league (47.6%). 

"They have a lot of good skill guys," Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "(David) Montgomery is an NFL back who runs hard and breaks tackles." 

The Cardinals have progressed as a run defense.

They went from allowing 5.1 yards per carry over the first five weeks to 4.1 since. Still, there have been some games when opponents tore open the cracks, notably the Panthers in Week 10. 

The Bears also surrender the most sacks in the league with 37 in 11 games. 

The Cardinals are equipped to take advantage with the eighth most sacks in the league. Edge rushers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones are each in the top 11 in the NFL. 

The road map is clear for the Arizona defense: stop the run on early downs to set up third-and-long situations. Then, let the pass rushers loose. 

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On the other side, the Bears have struggled to defend the pass, allowing the fifth-highest passer rating and 10th-most yards per completion. 

Where the Bears can do damage is getting to the quarterback, as they are second in adjusted sack rate. 

Defensive end Robert Quinn leads the team with 11 and has three multi-sack games against the Cardinals in his career. 

"I think their front is dominant," Kingsbury said. "It's as good a front as we'll see, the linebackers run all over the field, are smart players there."

The key for whether Murray can play is if can he evade the pass rush to avoid getting hurt again. 

If so, the Cardinals should move the ball, especially if Hopkins is also back in action. 

Even with backup Colt McCoy, Arizona was able to march down the field efficiently in two of three of his starts. 

In a cold environment, establishing the run with James Conner will be of much importance. 

The Bears have been a middle-of-the-pack rush defense this year, although multiple injuries in the front seven may hinder their ability. 

Injury Report

"I'll give it a go before the game," Hopkins said Friday. 

Murray mentioned Wednesday that he was hopeful to play.

The duo has not taken the field since Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers, and the Cardinals want to be cautious. They have hefty aspirations this year, and putting their stars at risk before they are ready is something to avoid. 

"We want to finish the right way this season," Kingsbury said. "So we're just trying to be smart about it."

For Chicago, linebacker and lead tackler Roquan Smith is questionable. With defensive tackle Akiem Hicks out, if he is unable to play, that would be a double blow to the Chicago defensive front. 

Edge rusher and 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack is already on injured reserve. 

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Matchup history 

It has been a long and mostly painful history for the Cardinals against their former city roommates. 

Their first matchup was in 1920 when the Chicago Cardinals took down the Decatur Staleys, 7-6. 

Over the last century, the Bears are 57-28-6 against the Cardinals, having won seven of their last 10 meetings. The most recent game was in 2018, a 16-14 win for Chicago in State Farm Stadium.

Wide receiver Christian Kirk had 90 receiving yards that day and Jones had a sack. 

Murray and Kingsbury have yet to play them. 

Players to watch

Players to watch

ExpertPlayerWhy?

Howard Balzer

RB James Conner

This is no revelation but on a windy afternoon, Conner will love grinding as he recalls his cold-weather past.

Alex Weiner

OLB Markus Golden

Golden will be lining up against a rookie or 39-year-old tackle Jason Peters and should be able to make a lot of noise in this game. 

Donnie Druin

LT D.J. Humphries

Chicago boasts a defensive front with talented names, and regardless of Kyler Murray's status, protecting the quarterback will be vital in keeping Arizona's offense humming.