The Denver Broncos have lost two consecutive games after jumping to a 7-0 start, but the dominant win over the Green Bay Packers has been all but forgotten now.
A disastrous 29-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday had its highs and lows, with Peyton Manning breaking the all-time passing record, but also throwing four interceptions and being benched.
Critical game for Broncos at Soldier Field
Week 12 of the regular season throws up arguably, one of the more exciting games with the Broncos facing a critical time in their season as they head to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears.
Manning will be on the sideline, allowing Brock Osweiler to make his first career start, but some familiar faces will be on the Chicago side of the field. Former head coach John Fox, who now coaches the Bears, and former offensive coordinator Adam Gase now handle both duties in Chicago.
Bears’ season starting to pick up
Although Chicago got off to a pretty rough start this season, they have appeared to be vastly improved, having picked up wins over the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams.
The Broncos will have looked at this fixture a few weeks back, when they remained unbeaten, thinking it would be a simple win, but the game now looks much tougher for them now.
A wildcard spot is still not too unrealistic if you look at the standings around the NFC, especially with the Packers dropping their last two games.
Rookie RB stepping up for Chicago
The bears must be over the moon with the output of rookie running-back Jeremy Langford in his two starts, with Pro Bowler Matt Forte on the mend, but give credit where credit is due, the offensive line has been playing well.
With the likes of Charles Leno, who managed to keep Robert Quinn in check last week at St. Louis, the offensive line has come together to become a solid unit in front of quarterback Jay Cutler.
Denver’s man coverage in the secondary is far superior to any team the Bears have faced this season, and with just one reliable outside receiver Alshon Jeffrey, Cutler will keep the Bears moving only if Langford and Forte produce another big game.
The big injury news for the Broncos is that Manning (Foot/Rib Cage) is ruled out for the game in the Windy City, and that has handed Osweiler his first start in his four-year tenure in Denver, and DeMarcus Ware (Back) is the only other player to be ruled out.
Emmanuel Sanders (Ankle/Finger), Antonio Smith (Hip), and Vance Walker (Shoulder) are all questionable, but Owen Daniels (Knee/Shoulder) and Ronnie Hillman (Quadricep) are listed as probable for the game and are likely to feature.
For the Bears, the disappointing news is that Eddie Royal (Knee) is the only player to be ruled completely out of the game, while wide receiver Jeffrey (Groin/Shoulder), running back Forte (Knee) and Pernell McPhee (Knee) are questionable.
Jermon Bushrod (Shoulder) has full participated in practice this week, while Hroniss Grasu (Neck) and Antrel Rolle (Ankle) have had limited practice and all three players are probable.
Prediction: Broncos 20 Bears 13