Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is always a dangerous threat, but even more so this week against the team that traded him. Not only will Mack be fired up to remind his old team what they’re missing, but his teammates are well aware of what it means to Mack and eager to lend support.
The Raiders surely are bracing for the attack. Right tackle Trent Brown and left tackle Kolton Miller know they have their hands full, even with help from tight ends, guards and running backs.
“The guy is a special talent for sure,” Brown told Raiders reporters this week. “You definitely have to bring your A-game on every play.”
The Bears’ run defense has picked up where it left off last season. The Bears are third in the NFL in rushing defense (61.5 yards per game) and second in yards allowed per carry (3.0).
Without two of their best run-stopping defenders — defensive end Akiem Hicks and linebacker Roquan Smith —the Bears held the Vikings to 40 yards on 16 carries last week. Dalvin Cook, who came in as the leading rusher in the NFL, gained 35 yards on 14 carries (2.5 avg.).
Smith is expected to return after missing last week’s game because of a personal issue. Hicks, who has a sore knee, practiced Friday and will be a game-time decision.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Bears back-up quarterback Chase Daniel will start in place of injured starter Mitch Trubisky. Daniel relieved Trubisky early in the first quarter against the Vikings last week and completed 22-of-30 passes for 195 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 101.4 passer rating.
Last year, Daniel was stellar in place of Trubisky against the Lions, but faltered the following week, throwing an early pick-6 in a road loss to the Giants. But the Bears and Matt Nagy have complete confidence in him and won’t baby the offense with a back-up at quarterback.
“There’s no flinch with Chase,” Nagy said. “He just exudes that [confidence]. I like that as a coach when you have that [in] your back-up quarterback. You have ultimate trust that you can call any play and you don’t have to pull back in any way, because he’s your guy.”
The Bears and Raiders took opposite tacks in dealing with the logistical challenge of the London game. The Raiders went straight to London from their road game against the Colts last week, so they will have been on the road for nine straight days at kickoff.
The Bears didn’t arrive in London until Friday morning. But sometimes the team that is better acclimated to the time change has prevailed. One consistent thread: The better team often wins —Vegas-line favorites are 18-5-1 straight up in the London games. The Bears are 5-point favorites Sunday.