Here's a breakdown.
A motivated Khalil Mack captures the imagination: How much better can he be? If Mack truly elevates his game to make the Raiders regret trading him, he could end up with three sacks. The Raiders will commit multiple personnel to get in Mack’s way, but that only will open up opportunities for everyone else. As efficient as Derek Carr is, the short passing game won't be enough. The running game will find out what Dalvin Cook did. And Chase Daniel will move the chains again with sharp, intermediate passes. Tea and crumpets for everyone in Chicago. The Bears will enjoy their trip abroad.
The direct matchup is Mack against Raiders offensive tackles Trent Brown and Kolton Miller, but it all starts with Gruden scheming to stop the franchise player he traded. Gruden will be committed to not letting Mack wreck this game. Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano called Mack "Gumby" as a compliment, but that ignores how Mack is as forceful as he is flexible. Gruden will want to counter that force with several blockers on passing downs, a running back here and a tight end there. As always, the more attention paid Mack, the more it becomes obvious with every down how badly the Bears won the deal for a future Hall of Famer. Expect another sack and forced fumble from Mack.
Waller is in underrated tight end who has emerged in Gruden‘s offense as a legitimate threat. Whether Bears linebacker Roquan Smith plays or not, the pass defense must account for Waller on key third downs when he becomes Carr’s favorite target. Smith offers a better coverage option than replacement Nick Kwiatkoski, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix always can help from his safety spot. Whatever the case, Pagano must account for Waller.
"When you look up freak in the dictionary, there’s probably Khalil’s picture there ... He’s Gumby-ish. Rubberband man. I don’t know. He’s just a freak."
-- Pagano on Mack
"He’s one of my best friends. We’ll be friends when we’re all old and maybe he’ll have kids. I’m trying to nudge him in that direction. This week is different. We’re competing against each other, so it’s back to the pool basketball mentality for me."
-- Carr on Mack
"A dog that poop fast don't poop for long, man.’"
-- Mack on the Bears handling success
The Raiders defense has one interception in four games this season.
Since the Bears traded for Mack, he has 17 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in 18 games. In that same 20-game span, the Raiders as a team have 18 sacks and eight forced fumbles.
The Raiders average 125.8 rushing yards per game – good for ninth in the league – and have received solid production from running back Josh Jacobs, who has set a team rookie record for yards in his first four NFL games with 295.
The Bears proved something against the Vikings, missing four starters and beating a good team after losing their starting quarterback six plays into the game. That was a resounding victory for the backups, reinforcing the roster depth that makes this team special – especially the defense. That will be true again Sunday against a Raiders team that has been away from home far too long and will show signs of that fatigue.