|Trubisky, Bears brace for road tilt vs. Ravens|
The matchup between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens features a pair of quarterbacks on opposite sides of their career.
Chicago rookie Mitchell Trubisky is looking to take the next step in his development with his second consecutive start. Meanwhile, 10-year veteran Joe Flacco has regained his confidence after some shaky performances for Baltimore.
The quarterbacks will offer a contrast of styles when they meet Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
After missing all of training camp with an injured back, the strong-armed Flacco finally had some success throwing the ball downfield Week 5 against Oakland. The 30-17 victory propelled Baltimore (3-2) into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, was uneven in his first start, going 12 for 25 for 128 yards with a touchdown and costly interception in a 20-17 loss to Minnesota. Chicago coach John Fox has expressed confidence in Trubisky and believes he can make further strides against Baltimore, especially with his mobility.
"He's got what it takes," Fox said. "There's no doubt in my mind. For a first game, I go back to watching guys like Joe Montana in his first game. I've seen a few of them. I'm not making comparisons at this point, but he will do nothing but get better."
It's just the sixth regular-season meeting between the teams with the Bears (1-4) leading the series, 3-2. The teams have not played since Nov. 17, 2013, when host Chicago escaped with a 23-20 overtime victory in a game that was delayed nearly two hours because of a tornado warning.
The Bears are ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense, but suffered a blow when linebacker Willie Young was placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury. However, fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan returned to practice this week after serving his one-game suspension.
Chicago has lost its past 10 games on the road.
Baltimore, has also been hampered by injuries, especially on the offensive line. The Ravens have a league-high 16 players on injured reserve.
Matt Skura became the latest player to be ruled out when he suffered a sprained MCL against the Raiders. As a result, the Ravens will be forced to start a different player at right guard for the third time this season. Baltimore already lost another right tackle and Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda (ankle) and left guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) to season-ending injuries.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh is confident the team can overcome those setbacks.
"It just doesn't matter. It is not something we think about," Harbaugh said about the injuries. "It is not something we quantify. We don't waste any energy thinking about that. You just go and get ready for the next game."
Flacco struggled in both of team's two losses. He was also sacked six times over the recent two-game losing streak.
The offensive line did a much better job protecting against the Raiders and he responded with his best game of the season. Flacco finished with modest numbers, completing 19 of 26 passes for 222 yards.
However, he had two long completions to receiver Mike Wallace for 52 and 54 yards that set up scores. Flacco finished with a QB rating of 98.6 and did not endure a sack. He also did not throw an interception for the first time in 10 straight games.
The Ravens will look to test the Bears, who are ranked 12th against the pass. Flacco is looking for the momentum to continue this week, especially at home.
"I definitely think it's going to carry over," Flacco said. "We're working hard in there. Guys are definitely ready to go and want to be involved and make a splash. We're working hard to do that. I think it's going to carry over."
Chicago does not want to get into a shootout with Baltimore, especially with Trubisky still finding his footing. The Ravens are ranked second in the league with nine interceptions behind Jacksonville (10). Trubisky is ready for the challenge.
"You can't be scared," Trubisky said. "You've got to think every time the ball is in your hand that it's going to be a completion, my guys are going to come down with it."