Game time: 1 p.m. ET; Aug. 14, 2021
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Where to watch: NFL Network
2020 season results
Dolphins: 10-6 (2nd place, AFC East, missed playoffs)
Bears: 8-8 (2nd place, NFC North, lost wild card game to Saints)
Statistical leaders in 2020
Passing: Ryan Fitzpatrick -- 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns
Rushing: Myles Gaskin -- 584 yards, 3 touchdowns
Receiving: DeVante Parker -- 793 yards, 4 touchdowns
Tackles: Jerome Baker (112)
Sacks: Emmanuel Ogbah (9)
Interceptions: Xavien Howard (10)
Passing: Mitchell Trubisky -- 2,055 yards, 16 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
Rushing: David Montgomery -- 1,070 yards, 8 touchdowns
Receiving: Allen Robinson -- 1,250 yards, 6 touchdowns
Tackles: Roquan Smith (139)
Sacks: Khalil Mack (9)
Interceptions: Roquan Smith and Tashaun Gipson (2)
Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Bears -3.5, Dolphins +3.5
BetMGM: Bears -4, Dolphins +4
FanDuel: Bears -3.5, Dolphins +3.5
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Dolphins - Bears Preview
Saturday could be the beginning of the Justin Fields era in Chicago. Nothing else should be said otherwise unless Fields is unequivocally not ready to play quarterback for the Chicago Bears.
In that case, hello Andy Dalton.
But seriously, it can’t be anyone besides Fields taking snaps this season for Chicago. The world is likely to see Matt Nagy’s latest project in action Saturday when the Bears host the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field.
You wouldn’t expect such doubt from Chicago on who starts Week 1, but that’s what happens when you pay Dalton $10 million to be a backup. What an awesome life to live.
But Fields is likely going to be the starter when Chicago begins its era post quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The former No. 2 overall pick, who the Bears traded four picks to draft, is now in a backup role with the Buffalo Bills. It only took two picks for Chicago to trade up and draft Fields, the former Ohio State star, at No. 11 to be its quarterback of the future.
“When you see a quarterback throw the ball, it’s a lot of different, obviously, throws that (Fields) can make and (it’s) a lot of different throwing angles he can throw from and things like that,” Bears leading receiver Allen Robinson said, per The Athletic
. “As a receiver, you definitely notice those things. Again, he’s a very natural thrower. He can get the ball out of his hands. He has a big arm and things like that. You definitely notice it for a receiver.”
Chicago’s defense, once again, is going to be vital for Chicago’s success. The fact it carried an 8-8 team to the playoffs with Trubisky averaging 2 yards per attempt says a lot. Imagine what a young, talented quarterback can do in this offense. The Bears’ defense was 14th in scoring last year; a number that could go up more if Khalil Mack gets to the quarterback more.
Speaking of young quarterbacks taking over, the Dolphins nearly made the playoffs last season with an awkward split of Ryan Fitzpatrick and now No. 1 QB Tua Tagovailoa. Miami had some untimely losses to Kansas City and Denver, which allowed the AFC North triad to leapfrog the Dolphins in the wild card standings.
But it’s Tagovailoa’s team now and the Dolphins are expected to challenge the Bills for the top spot in the AFC East.
"I've learned a lot," Tagovailoa said, per NFL.com
. "To me, there's talent and then there's experience. No matter how much talent you have, I don't think it ever overrides experience. For me, it's a lot of learning. I learned a lot last year and continue to learn a lot."
The former two-time National Championship quarterback at Alabama went 6-3 as a starter last season, completing 64.1 percent of his passes to go with 11 touchdowns. Where he needs to get better is throwing downfield; Tagovailoa averaged 6.3 yards per attempt, whereas Fitzpatrick averaged 7.8. The sophomore quarterback will need to utilize Devante Parker’s deep-threat ability. The addition of Will Fuller should also help with the deep game, with Allen Hurns providing a solid option in the slot.
While there’s a great chance we’ll see extended reps for Fields, Tagovailoa is interesting. He could use the reps to see the vast improvement, but it’s also a matter of getting to Week 1. With one fewer preseason game, watching how teams rest their starters will be interesting to watch.
As we’ve talked plenty the past few days, preseason remains one of those weird hit-or-miss times. The first half will dictate which way this game goes; whether we get plenty of Fields and Tagovailoa or not. But there hasn’t been much head-to-head action here.
The Bears are 2-1 against the spread while facing the Dolphins since 1993. Four of five games all-time have gone over, with the Bears winnings the past two meetings.
Neither team has given an indication as to what the offenses will look like, but we like the idea of Fields electrifying the limited home crowd in his first appearance and making it a memorable debut. We’re going to see a lot of this kind of flip-flop action as the preseason continues to roll out this week. We like the Bears in a game where the over will surprisingly cash, especially when both first-team defenses find their way off the field for the rest of the game. Bears win, over cashes.
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