Chicago Bears: 5 Players who must shine vs. Raiders in Week 5

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images /
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Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images /

If Nick Kwiatkoski is needed again, he needs a repeat performance

The biggest surprise (and mystery) coming out of the Chicago Bears’ Week 4 victory was the absence of linebacker Roquan Smith. The team downgraded him to doubtful just 20 minutes before the game, then deactivated him. Neither the Bears nor Smith said anything since the end of the game, so we know nothing about why he didn’t play or whether he’ll even travel to London with the team.

If Smith is a no-go, Nick Kwiatkoski needs to step up again. He had a great game in place of Smith in Week 4. He recorded 9 tackles (2 for loss), a sack, a quarterback hit, and a forced fumble. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano did a good job of substituting him on some passing situations. Kwiatkoski’s weakness is in coverage so Pagano put him in a position to do well. Kwiatkoski took his opportunity and came through big.

The Raiders don’t have a good passing attack. They rank 27th in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. Their running attack is a good one, though. They rank ninth in rushing yards and 6th in yards per rush. However, they only rank 16th in rushing touchdowns. The Bears have the best rushing defense in the NFL and have given up only one rushing touchdown, and that was last week to Dalvin Cook.

Just as was the case in Week 4, that combination plays to the Bears’ and to Kwiatkoski’s strength. If he does well in helping stop the run and force Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to drop back and try to win the game with his arm, the Bears will be in a good position. Hicks was close to playing last week but the Bears decided to give him more time to rest. That means he probably plays this week. Having him on the field helps make the defense’s and Kwiatkoski’s jobs easier.

If Smith isn’t able to go on Sunday, the Bears are still in a good situation with Kwiatkoski.