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'08 Game Preview: Bears


As the Texans gear up for training camp, excitement for the 2008 season continues to build. Here is an in-depth look at each of the team's regular season opponents with some insights from SportsRadio 610's Marc Vandermeer.

Teams: Texans vs. Chicago Bears (Sunday, Dec. 28)

Game Preview: The Texans close out the regular season against the Chicago Bears, a team that posted a 7-9 record last year with an offense that went from the league's second-best scoring unit in 2006 to 18th-best in '07, not to mention a defense that dropped from fifth in yards allowed in '06 to 28th in '07.

That being said, the Bears should be a better team in 2008 thanks to the return of key defensive players who were injured last season. Up and down the field, Chicago's defense is stacked with players like linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, defensive tackle Tommie Harris, defensive end Adewale Ogunleye and cornerbacks Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman.

The Texans will face pressure upfront and in the backfield, which means the offensive line will have to be on point from the start to protect quarterback Matt Schaub and execute Alex Gibbs' zone blocking scheme. This is a game where rookie left tackle Duane Brown can show off his cut blocking. It's also a game where all of Houston's receivers will have to be ready to work the field. Tight end Owen Daniels could catch a lot of balls over the middle against his hometown team, while the Texans' running backs pound the football and keep third downs manageable.

{QUOTE}Houston's defense may see a mixed bag from the Bears' offense. Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton will wage an underwhelming battle for a starting job at quarterback. Grossman showed potential in '06, but last year proved he was prone to big errors. With defensive end Mario Williams in his face, Grossman could end up throwing to Texans' defensive backs all day.

At wide receiver, there is no telling who will be the go-to guys for Chicago after Bernard Berrian (Minnesota) and Muhsin Muhammad (Carolina) left this offseason. Marty Booker, Brandon Lloyd and Mark Bradley seem to be the top-three options, but Devin Hester has become a receiver in addition to his return duties. The Bears drafted tight end Greg Olsen in the first round in 2007 and re-signed Desmond Clark to a two-year extension, so there's no clear-cut starter there. The team cut running back Cedric Benson, a former No. 4 overall pick, after he was arrested twice for alcohol-related offenses in the same month. Rookie Matt Forte, a second-round draft pick from Tulane, will take most of the snaps at tailback, while Kevin Jones and Adrian Peterson provide relief.

"I think the Bears can run the football pretty well," Vandermeer said. "They picked up (left tackle) Chris Williams in the draft. They will be OK running the football this year. But the firepower just doesn't seem to be there as much as it should be or could be, because they really want to up that side of the equation offensively – throw the football better. I do believe Grossman is going to be the quarterback, but he doesn't have enough weapons to work with to make him great. So it's all about stopping the run if you are the Houston Texans."

Key Matchups: Outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin going against his former team and getting after quarterback Rex Grossman. Left tackle Duane Brown protecting quarterback Matt Schaub's blind side.

Vandermeer's pick: "I'm going to go Texans' win in Week 17, the 16th game of the season."

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