Jets vs. Bears: Preview, predictions, what to watch for

Jets vs. Bears: Preview, predictions, what to watch for

An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Bears Week 12 matchup at MetLife Stadium. 

Marquee matchup

Jets defensive line vs. Bears QB Justin Fields or Trevor Siemian

When the schedule came out, this game looked like it would be Justin Fields versus Zach Wilson, a battle of two 2021 first-round quarterbacks. Instead it looks like Mike White versus Trevor Siemian. Fields is dealing with a left shoulder injury that has him listed as questionable for Sunday. If he can’t go, Siemian will start.

“We’re preparing for [Fields],” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. “If he plays, we’ll hit him. If he doesn’t play, we will do our best to hit the next guy.”

The Jets defense has been ferocious lately, recording at least five sacks in three straight games, their longest streak since the 1970 merger. They sacked Mac Jones six times last week and hit him eight times. That should give the Bears pause about playing Fields, who has rushed for 85 yards or more in his past three games.

Bears quarterbacks have been sacked 40 times this season, tied with the Colts for the most in the NFL. Fields’ running ability makes this quarterback uncertainty tough to prepare for. The Jets essentially need two different game plans — one for Fields and one for Siemian, who played for the Jets in 2019.

Quinnen Williams and Justin FieldsQuinnen Williams and Justin FieldsRobert Sabo; AP

Costello’s call

It should not matter who is at quarterback for the Jets. The Bears traded away two of their best defensive players and may be missing Justin Fields and his running ability. This will be a big day for Mike White and the Jets.

Jets 30, Bears 20

Four downs

On the run: With all the focus on the quarterback Zach Wilson’s failures last week in New England, there was not much attention paid to how poorly the Jets ran the ball. The Jets had just 59 yards rushing, and 26 of those came on Wilson scrambles. When the offense has been good this season, it has started with the run game.

“For our O-line and the way we do offense, that’s the most important thing,” center Connor McGovern said. “That’s been at the top of everyone on the O-line’s mind. We’re really looking forward to doing everything we can to get back on track.”

This could be a good week for the Jets to reestablish their rushing attack. The Bears rank 29th in run defense in the NFL.

“With regards to the run game, you always want to establish it, especially me,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. “It’s a mentality. It’s not lacking in ability, it’s consistency to be able to go in down-in, down-out, stay away from negative yards, try to push forward, understanding 2 and 3-yard runs are good enough to try to stay on-schedule to create third-and-manageable situations. It’s all-encompassing.”

Take it away: The Jets’ defense has been very opportunistic, with 14 takeaways this season, 11 of those on interceptions. But last week, they had no takeaways against the Patriots. It was the first time this season they did not force a turnover in a game and something the defense spoke about this week.

“It was the first thing I addressed on Monday morning,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “It’s the first thing I address every single day post-practice is our ball production, and I mean that’s our opportunity to really change a game.”

Comeback Corey: Mike White will have one of the Jets’ top receivers back in the lineup this week. Corey Davis will return after missing the past three games following a knee sprain he suffered at Denver. Davis has 19 catches for 351 yards and two touchdowns this season, not eye-popping numbers, but he gives the team a veteran who can help the offense get going.

“It’s big, and sometimes you don’t feel it until they come back,” Saleh said. “Just the professionalism, the detail, the walk-through, the deliberateness in which he goes about every rep. Such a high regard for Corey and his professional manner.”

Montgomery mission: The Bears’ offense is a bit of a mystery because of the uncertainty around quarterback Justin Fields’ availability. Fields leads the team in rushing with 843 yards. Their leading rusher, Khalil Herbert, is on injured reserve with a hip injury. That leaves David Montgomery for Chicago to lean on. The Bears surely will be trying to run the ball regardless of who the quarterback is. Montgomery has 501 rushing yards this season and can be tough to tackle. The Jets’ defense had trouble tackling against the Patriots last week and will need to be better in that area against the Bears.