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Bears to take bite out of Raiders? Get NFL tips for London

Leigh Copson 3 Oct 2019
Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears (credit:Robin Alam/Zuma Press/PA Images)

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders predictions for the first NFL International Series Game of the 2019 NFL season. Can that dominant Chicago Bears defense inspire the team to another victory when they take on the Oakland Raiders in the first London game of the season? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

READ MORE: Get our free Sunday NFL Week 5 picks.

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders (Sunday 18:00 BST)

The first London game of the 2019 season is upon us and despite this not being a division game or even a conference game, there is a huge storyline going into this meeting between the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders. The Raiders, of course, traded defensive superstar Khalil Mack to Da Bears on the eve of the 2018 season and since that date head coach Jon Gruden has been forced to field question after question about what was seemingly a dumb move by the Californian franchise. Mack’s arrival in the ‘Windy City’ immediately turned Chicago from playoff hopefuls to contenders and while they did not go all the way in 2018, expectations were high that Matt Nagy’s team could win it all in 2019 which Mack, of course, leading the charge. Mack has certainly played his part so far, producing a string of devastating performances that have made him a serious part of the conversation when it comes to the league MVP this season, but can he now continue his fantastic form and punish Oakland for trading him away a year ago?

Mack may be the big star on this Bears defense, but that does not mean it is a one-man band. Far from it. There were predictions that this unit would regress after a tremendous 2018 season under former defensive co-ordinator Vic Fangio, but so far they have proved that their performances last season were not just down to the man at the controls. Under new co-ordinator Chuck Pagano they have become even more aggressive and the stats say it all. They have given up just 45 points so far this season to average 11.25 points per game, with 18 of those points coming pretty much in ‘garbage time’. They have averaged at least two turnovers, 4.25 sacks per game and 6.75 quarterback hits per game. They have also allowed just one rushing touchdown this season and completely shut down Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook a week ago despite being without Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith and Bilal Nichols – three major players on this unit. And that is the scary part – even when you take out key figures this is a unit that still disrupts and destroys offenses. So how do you stop them, especially when Hicks and Smith return to action like they will this week?

That is the question that Oakland Raiders must try to answer in London, but they have been a mixed bag through the first four weeks of the season to go two and two. They made a solid start to the campaign with a home win over Denver in week one, but they were no match for Kansas City a week later and were then convincingly dismantled when they went out on the road to face Minnesota. Oakland bounced back in week four with a surprise win at Indianapolis and that victory over the Colts will have given them some renewed confidence ahead of the trip to London. However, their success in Indy was largely built on the back of a strong run-game that amassed 188 yards – they are not going to have that sort of success against Chicago and that means putting the game in the hands, and arm, of quarterback Derek Carr. He has been pretty accurate so far, completing 72.1% of his passes, but he has thrown three picks opposite six touchdowns and he is going to be under-fire from this ferocious Bears pass rush all day long. Mack will be on the hunt for more ‘strip sacks’, his forte, and if the offensive line does hold up long enough for Carr to get the ball out then the slightest mistake could be punished by that ball-hawking Chicago secondary. The simple fact is that it is difficult to see the Raiders doing much against this dominant defense that has rubbished the suggestion that it could regress in 2019.

The Bears are not flawless though – they have a sizeable Achilles heel in that offense which is yet to get going and will have backup quarterback Chase Daniel at the controls after Mitchell Trubisky suffered a shoulder injury a week ago. Daniel put up a solid display as the Bears beat Minnesota last Sunday, but before anybody gets carried away with the backup I should point out we saw something similar last season. Daniel led Chicago to victory at Detroit with a solid performance, but the following week he proved why he is a career back-up by producing a dismal display in a surprise defeat to the New York Giants. So we could see him perform well again this week, we could see him struggle. It really is difficult to know what to predict when it comes to the Chicago offense at this point in the season.

However, it is not difficult to predict what we will see from the new ‘Monsters of the Midway’ – sheer dominance once again. That Bears defense will take control of this contest at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, shut down the Oakland offense, force a few turnovers and give their own offense a pretty low target to win the game. That has been the recipe for victory in the past three weeks, kick-starting their season to send them level with Green Bay at 3-1, and it should serve up a fourth straight win for them here. And if the offense fails to fire once again, they will be bailed out by kicker Eddy Pineiro, who was signed from Oakland in the offseason. Pineiro was given a shot by the Bears as they tried to move on from Cody Parkey and the infamous ‘double doink’ that ended their season back in January, and after winning a battle of kickers at camp he has so far delivered for the team. He booted a game-winning 52-yarder at Denver in week two and has since battled a pinched nerve in his right knee to go four for five with field goals in his last two appearances. If called upon here, the former Florida Gator can play a big part in seeing off his old team by converting at least three field goal attempts.

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Bears to take bite out of Raiders? Get NFL tips for London

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders predictions for the first NFL International Series Game of the 2019 NFL season.

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