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Bears-Raiders matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's battle between the Bears and Raiders.

RB Matt Forté vs. Raiders run defense

Defenses have had success in limiting Forté each of the past two games, as he gained only 3.2 yards per carry in the Bears' wins over the Lions and Chargers.

Coordinators are bringing an extra defender into the box more and more, and the holes Forté was running through during the first half of the season have been much less abundant of late. While QB Jay Cutler was able to take advantage of those opportunities and keep the offense moving even when the running game wasn't producing, it's been a pretty effective strategy against Forté, and one the Raiders are likely to utilize Sunday.

With Caleb Hanie under center in place of Cutler, who is out until at least very late in the regular season after breaking his thumb against San Diego, Oakland likely will bring SS Tyvon Branch closer to the line of scrimmage early and often, leaving FS Michael Huff to patrol the back end on his own.

Hanie has to make plays and force the Raiders to show him respect in how they align their defense. If he doesn't, the Bears' offense likely will be stringing together a lot of short drives with Forté and the offensive line battling an emboldened run defense.

The Bears need Forté, who has great vision and patience as a runner, to be productive, and Hanie can do a lot to make sure that he is.

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