Cardinals @ Bears
Final Score: Cardinals 33, Bears 22
Writer: Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)
The Cardinals finally had Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins back, but the Arizona defense played the starring role in this one, picking off Andy Dalton four times on their way to an easy win. Chicago actually looked like they were going to make this one interesting early, going on long, sustained drives and dominating time of possession in the first half. This also helps explain why the Cardinals’ passing-game numbers were a bit lackluster. They just didn’t need to throw much to win this one, and they didn’t have much time to work with. Arizona improves to 10-2 and will host the Rams while Chicago falls to 4-8 and heads to Green Bay.
Weather: It was rainy today in Chicago, and the weather clearly played a factor in the game. There were multiple passes that slipped through receivers’ hands and a number of bad snaps, including both of Kyler Murray’s fumbles.
Andy Dalton: 26/41, 229 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, 3 sacks | 2 carries, 6 yards
Andy Dalton was okay in this game. Factoring in the bad weather and some bad luck early, I would say Dalton played a decent game. His first pick went off of Jakeem Grant‘s hands-on what would have been an easy first down. Dalton threw it a little high, but it still looked catchable. His second pick dropped right into Cole Kmet‘s lap but bounced away into Budda Baker‘s hands for a big return.
The offense was stagnant and run-heavy at halftime, and the numbers only smoothed out late once things were out of reach.
Dalton did make a couple of nice throws. There was a crazy trick play where Dalton took a double reverse, somehow avoided a sack, and found Jakeem Grant for a big gain. Then there was another throw to Grant when Dalton was getting chased backward. It ended with an 8-yard touchdown toss that just barely got past a reaching defender. Dalton is not a desirable fantasy option (duh) and he holds down the weapons around him. Still, things could have gone better if the luck factor wasn’t so negative today.
David Montgomery: 21 carries, 90 yards, TD | 9 targets, 8 receptions, 51 yards
Khalil Herbert: 4 carries, 16 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards
A rainy game is probably the perfect game script for David Montgomery to do his thing, and things went well today. The Bears ran early and often, and Montgomery blew past 20 touches with ease. His touchdown was a 1-yard plunge, and he almost had another. Late in the third quarter, Montgomery ran hard towards the endzone but ended just a foot short. Jimmy Graham caught a score two plays later and that was that. Montgomery is not the only talent here, but he maintains his iron grip on the workload. His passing-game numbers are also a bit inflated thanks to a conservative game plan–likely trying to counter the wet weather. Khalil Herbert had five touches, but three of them came on a single series. I still think Herbert is the better talent, but he is a non-factor as long as things stay this way. I consider him a great buy in dynasty leagues.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Darnell Mooney: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 27 yards
Cole Kmet: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 41 yards
Damiere Byrd: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 36 yards
Jimmy Graham: 1 target, 1 reception, TD, 2-pt conversion
Jakeem Grant: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 62 yards, TD
Darnell Mooney was a bit of a no-show today as the Bears tried to win with running and short passes. The target numbers looked good, but the Bears just didn’t really take any deep shots. Mooney should be played next week against Green Bay, but watch the weather just in case.
Jakeem Grant had a good day, making the most of his targets. He was all over the field, and he could have had another catch if his first target–the first pick from Andy Dalton–was better placed. Grant is small and fast (like Mooney) but is not a serious consideration as a weekly play.
Cole Kmet, like Mooney, saw good target numbers. He just didn’t make much of the chance. Kmet had a big drop that became the game’s second pick. The ball hit him right in the hands as he slid to the field, and he somehow couldn’t hold on.
Andy Dalton keeps throwing INTs
Baker got him. pic.twitter.com/DSPihhf9jE
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 5, 2021
I worry about Kmet after games like this one, because it’s hard to tell if he is developing enough to be the future star some see. He has the size and ability, but I hate watching him lose red zone work to Jimmy Graham. Speaking of, Jimmy Graham made the most of his work. He actually had two catches, but one was on a late two-point conversion. Graham has popped up like this before and is just a blip on the fantasy radar.
Kyler Murray: 11/15, 123 yards, 2 TD, 1 sack | 10 carries, 59 yards, 2 TD, 2 fumbles
Kyler Murray is finally back! Murray played well, despite the emaciated passing yard numbers. Murray was efficient with his throws, not needing much to get the win today and keep the NFC lead. He also ran well, not seemingly taking a big hit all game long. Murray’s best throw was his touchdown toss to DeAndre Hopkins. He found his receiver running down the sideline, and placed the ball for him to get it. Hopkins just landed both feet in bounds and the Cardinals took the early 7-0 lead.
WELCOME BACK KYLER MURRAY AND DEANDRE HOPKINS
— PFF (@PFF) December 5, 2021
Murray’s fumbles were both easily forgivable, likely being results of the weather and the wet football.
Kyler Murray is just a little bit rusty.
Pulled a Bakerpic.twitter.com/4rPaX5mhIA
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 5, 2021
This does bring an important question to mind, though: how what this affect Murray if he has to play in Green Bay in the playoffs? It looks like keeping home field could be that much more important to Arizona.
Kyler Murray rushing TD on zone read (keep) arc w/WR crack block to seal pic.twitter.com/Uv7nqhtkVc
— SyedSchemes (@syedschemes) December 5, 2021
James Conner: 20 carries, 75 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 36 yards, TD
Eno Benjamin: 2 carries, 1 yard | 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards
James Conner continues to feast in this backfield, eating up touchdowns left and right on the league’s best team. Conner has proven to be the definition of a league-winning pick, and I imagine his managers are jockeying for playoff position at this point. Conner’s best play was his touchdown catch. Conner ran out of the backfield and had to fully extend his arm–while spinning–to make the grab. A defender missed the tackle, and Conner ran free to the endzone for his fourteenth touchdown of the season.
JAMES CONNER THE TOUCHDOWN MACHINE🎰
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 5, 2021
Eno Benjamin saw just a couple of touches, but he looked good on his lone catch. I like his talent, and I’m curious to see what he can develop into for next season. Keep him on your list of names to watch this offseason.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeAndre Hopkins: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards, TD
A.J. Green: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards
Rondale Moore: 2 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards | 3 carries, 2 yards
Zach Ertz: 2 targets, 1 reception, 10 yards
Christian Kirk: 3 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards
As we said right off the bat, the Cardinals barely passed in this one. The first factor was the Bears’ overwhelming time of possession edge in the first half (20 minutes to 10). The second was the constant short fields thanks to Chicago turnovers. Arizona’s first two touchdown drives went 28 and 15 yards respectively. The third was the weather. With the wet ball and the turnovers, I’m guessing Kliff Kingsbury didn’t want to take any chances. Still, DeAndre Hopkins made his day thanks to his aforementioned touchdown grab. It was a great catch to go along with a great throw, and the kind of play that could make the Cardinals a contender. Rondale Moore had a handful of plays designed to get him the ball, but they just didn’t work out; it felt like Chicago was dialed in on each call made for Moore. Still, it’s good to see the team creating opportunities for Moore. Outside of those two, everything else was quiet. I imagine this offense will bounce back in a big way next week as the Rams promise to put up a better fight.
— Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)