Each week, we watch as much Game Rewind as possible. And it's still not enough. We try to share a few things we think we learned every Friday.
Chicago's fatal flaw
Rapoport: Week 10 game rankings
Good luck with that approach in the playoffs. Just look at the other NFC contenders: San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks all have elite pass rushes. The Green Bay Packers destroyed the Bears' line in their first meeting. Chicago faces a team with a winning record for the next six games. Life is about to get a lot harder.
Pressure from all sides
Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb and right tackle Gabe Carimi get all the attention for their struggles, but Cutler has perhaps had even more trouble with pressure up the middle. This is a problem with MVP candidate defensive end J.J. Watt coming to town. Houston presents mismatch problems at every level of the defense.
A new Texan to worry about
Houston's first-round pick linebacker Whitney Mercilus comes on stronger every week. Linebackers Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin haven't been great this year rushing the passer, but they present problems along with Watt. The Bills only gave up eight sacks all season before facing Houston. The Texans got Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on the ground four times.
Battle of the bests
I was surprised to see I was the only ATL writer picking Houston. When the Texans are on the field, you have a severe mismatch up front. When the Texans offense is on the field, you have a matchup of one of the best offensive lines in football against one of the best defensive lines in Chicago. It's going to be fun to watch.
This remains a play-action passing attack that likes to rip off big chunks of yardage. That worked well against Buffalo, but the Texans aren't as fast on the outside as they used to be. Texas receiver Andre Johnson is still very effective, but it's a little harder getting him open deep. Tight end Owen Daniels and wide receiver Kevin Walter aren't known for their speed. Daniels isn't 100 percent healthy and may not play. A third wide receiver has not stepped up.
Two elite backs
Look for Chicago to load up Forte with carries this week. The Bears offensive line is much better run blocking than in pass protection. Forte has only received more than 16 carries in a game twice despite all of Chicago's winning. Foster has almost doubled that workload.
Both teams fell short in their biggest moments to date this season. (Both national televised losses against the Packers.) The Texans are most vulnerable through the air, but the Bears don't have the roster to expose them. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph is playing better of late and Houston should be able to slow down Brandon Marshall. Wade Phillips is right: The Bears don't throw it to anyone else.
This is a defining game for both teams. They both think they have the best defense in football and a chance for homefield advantage in the playoffs.
The biggest difference: Houston's offense is so much further along. They will be ready Sunday night.