A glance at the top storylines for the Cardinals-Bears game Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago:
Forte becomes the focus
Before Carlos Hyde got loose Monday night, it was the Bears' Matt Forte who was the pacesetter for NFL running backs in Week 1, rushing for 141 yards against the Packers. Forte is getting up there in running back years, but with John Fox as head coach, running the ball will be what the Bears lean toward doing -- especially with the erratic Jay Cutler at QB. The Cards can't let Forte go off, of course, and James Bettcher's new/old defense did a nice job clamping down on the Saints' running game last week. The Cards allowed just 54 yards on 20 New Orleans attempts – 2.7 yards a try – and that would go a long way toward helping the Cardinals toward a road win >Learn from the San Francisco history
Learn from San Francisco history
The Bears' defensive coordinator is Vic Fangio, and that name should ring a bell – he was the DC for Jim Harbaugh's 49ers the last few years. Even though the Cards haven't played the Bears since 2012, they should have an idea of how Fangio will like to play things. Of course, Fangio also has a good idea of how Bruce Arians' offense will work, but Arians always seems to come up with the schemes to move the ball – and with Carson Palmer so comfortable in the offense, expect the Cards to keep clicking.
About Cutler's head
He's been called "misunderstood" this week (by Bruce Arians) and he remains one of the more talented quarterbacks in the NFL. But Jay Cutler also tossed a late interception last week against the Packers and while he says he has grown, he acknowledged there are times he still gets frustrated. That's something the Cardinals can try and capitalize upon. If the Cards can pressure him – and the Bears' offensive line remains a work in progress – they have the secondary who can force a Cutler turnover or two.
Life with depth
Andre Ellington isn't expected to play this week, his sprained knee keeping him out. But that's why the Cardinals drafted David Johnson and why they signed Chris Johnson. It was for these times when Ellington might not be at full strength. It's a better situation than last season, when Ellington's injuries put a severe crimp in the running game (even with the flashes shown by Kerwynn Williams.) How much Chris Johnson has left can be debated, but he has looked fine thus far and sharing time with David Johnson should keep the Cards afloat on the ground.
The Cardinals will leave Friday for Chicago, a chance to give themselves a day for time zone acclimation. That first road game of the season always gives pause, however. Last year, it was a trip to New York and a surprise sit for quarterback Carson Palmer. But Drew Stanton came in and helped generate a win against the Giants, and this year, Palmer is healthy heading into Chicago. The Cards' success at home under Arians has been apparent. It's getting the wins on the road that provide the difference between winning divisions, and not.