Whole lotta talk--nearly all of it aimless--this week seemingly aimed at pushing fans one way or the other about Texans-Bears. "The Texans looked awful on Sunday Night Football a month ago." "Chicago hasn't beaten anybody." "Chicago's defense is a runaway locomotive that preys upon the souls of offenses both productive and hapless. "Jay Cutler's a turnover waiting to happen against the Texans' pressure." "Sir, you cannot return half-eaten food for a full refund." "No, we do not sell whiskey-flavored bagels." You know. All the usual pre-game chatter.
You come to "Three and Out" for its pinpoint, never wrong, always reasoned predictions. Or you come because you just happened to refresh BRB shortly after it posted. I don't claim to know, which you might think is a clear sign that I'm a fraud, what with the whole guaranteed predictions schtick I do and all. Look, we're getting off topic here. Refocus. Now brace yourself for the only prediction column you'll read for the next nine seconds.
1. A bit of an anecdote before I get to the meat of this prediction, if you'll indulge me. Actually, even if you won't indulge me, I'm proceeding as if you did. I'm drunk with power.
Anyway, while I accept and admire that you don't care about my fantasy football team, know that my two QBs are Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub (I was the last team to draft a QB this year). I've gone back and forth all week debating who to start. I have decided I'm going with The Schaub. Not because I think he's likely to explode for big numbers or a ton of big plays; in fact, I think Cutler's more likely to hit paydirt with Brandon Marshall one or two times than Schaub is to light up Chicago. But I think Schaub's less likely than Cutler to make mistakes. Less likely to turn the ball over. That's enough for me. Matt Schaub's final line: 18-26, 219 yards, 1 TD, O INT.
2. Another reason to tap the brakes on Cutler this week? Chicago's offensive line. They are, how do you say, not good. Wade Phillips has to be salivating at the possibilities. Speaking of Wade...I'd wager we see him give Matt Forte the same treatment he gave Ray Rice. Brandon Marshall is the more potent weapon, but I'm betting Wade's willing to take his chances with B-Marsh via some safety help. Marshall will still find the end zone on Sunday night. Forte? I think he's in for a frustrating contest, much like Ray Race found a few weeks ago. Oh, and the Texans are sacking Cutler five times on Sunday night. J.J. Watt will have two of those sacks, with Brooks Reed, Whitney Mercilus (in his Illinois homecoming), and Connor Barwin each getting in on the fun. Boldest defensive prediction? Your Houston Texans' defense will contribute a score of their own on Sunday evening.
3. I can't shake this fear that Devin Hester is returning a punt or (more likely) a kick for a touchdown. Texans fans are all too familiar with how horrendous the special teams unit has been, and Hester is precisely the kind of guy who can make you pay. They shouldn't even kick it to him, but I fear they will...at least once, which will be one time too many. Hester takes one to the house. Texans fans throw things around their collective house. Joe Marciano takes a nap. Nothing changes.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: I've had this game pegged as a loss all season, and I'm loathe to part ways with that logic. It's a primetime road game against a good squad with a defense that's playing lights out right now. In a pinch, it's wise to give the edge to the home team.
Unless you believe that the Texans can win the turnover battle (2-1, I say), keep the Chicago defense just off balance enough to score a couple of times (reintroduce Arian Foster to the passing game, maybe?), and that Houston will make good use of the middle of the field, even if Owen Daniels doesn't play (a step down from OD to be sure if he can't go, but I hold out hope that Garrett Graham or James Casey is ready for his closeup). I readily admit that this could be the homer in me talking, and a Chicago win would not surprise me at all...yet I say Texans 21, Bears 20.