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Saturday, December 10, 2011
Nuts & Bolts: Bears-Broncos

By Michael C. Wright


BEARS AT BRONCOS
| When: 3:05, Sunday | TV: FOX | RADIO: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM

BEARS (7-4)

Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 73-57

Career head-to-head record (including playoffs) vs. John Fox: 2-2

Career record (including playoffs) against Broncos: 1-0

Last week: Lost to Chiefs 10-3

Key stat:Since 2004, the Bears are 6-9 on the road against AFC teams, and 0-1 as the visitor against an AFC team in 2011.

Offense rank: 19th (325.8 ypg) | Defense rank: 20th (359.3 ypg)

Earl Bennett
Earl Bennett has been clutch for the Bears in third-down situations this season.

Offensive leader: Earl Bennett has caught only one pass in each of the last two games. But over his last 15 outings dating back to Week 9 of last season, Bennett has caught 16 passes in third-down situations, converting every one of them into first downs, making him one of just six players in the NFL to accomplish that feat over that span.

Defensive leader: Cornerback Charles Tillman currently ranks third on the team in tackles (97), but leads the Bears with 11 pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Interestingly, of the 10 players ranked in the top eight in forced fumbles since 2003, Tillman is the only cornerback as the other nine players are either defensive ends or linebackers.

Streaks
• The Bears have held opponents to just one touchdown in each of the last two games.
Brian Urlacher needs three tackles to reach 100 for the 11th time, which would put him past Mike Singletary for the franchise record.
• Defensive end Henry Melton has posted sacks in each of his last two outings and has six sacks on the season. The six sacks are the most by a Bears defensive tackle since Tommie Harris tallied eight in 2007.


BRONCOS (7-5)

Coach: John Fox | Record: 85-79 | Last week: Defeated the Vikings 35-32

Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 2-2 | Career record vs. Bears: 3-2

Key stat: Denver’s five-game winning streak is the club’s longest since 2009, when it started 6-0. The Broncos have completed 10 passes or fewer in each of their last five victories, making them -- according to Elias Sports Bureau -- the first team since 1956 to win five in a row in a season without completing more than 10 passes in any outing.

Offense rank: 25th (314.8 ypg) | Defense rank: 20th 24th (366.4 ypg)

Tim Tebow
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has the best fourth-quarter passer rating (109.7) in the AFC.

Offensive leader: Quarterback Tim Tebow has led five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter this season, and has the best fourth-quarter passer rating (109.7) in the AFC. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Tebow averages 7.4 yards per attempt on option plays, and 4.9 yards on non-option snaps.

Defensive leader: Rookie LB Von Miller is expected to play after sitting last week during the club’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. With 10 1/2 sacks, Miller needs just two more to tie Leslie O’Neal (12 1/2 sacks in 1986) and Simeon Rice (12 1/2 in 1996) for the third-most sacks by a rookie since 1982.

Streaks
• WR Eric Decker has caught eight touchdown passes over the last 11 games.
• LB Elvis Dumervil has posted 6 1/2 sacks in his last five outings.
• CB Andrew Goodman has picked off two passes over the last three games.