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What To Watch For In The Most Meaningless Game

| September 3rd, 2015

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Remember last year when David Fales hit Santonio Holmes and Holmes made a move before scoring a 32-yard touchdown? Holmes looked like an NFL wide receiver when, in reality, he was just a veteran playing with a bunch of young players. It didn’t translate, just as nothing from the fourth preseason game does. Veterans usually look good because they’re going against rookies and we can’t tell if one group of rookies stinks or if the other is good.

But here is some stuff to watch for:

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NFC North Preview: Minnesota Vikings

| September 2nd, 2015

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There are many around the league who are quietly optimistic about the Vikings this year. OK, so they’re not quiet at all. They’re actually quite annoyingly loud. It’s kind of weird considering that, in terms of DVOA, they were better than just Jacksonville, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Washington, New York Jets and, of course, the Bears. But they went 7-9 last year with a young roster and the expectation is that they will improve in their second year under Mike Zimmer.

Why They’ll Win The North:

There’s no question that Zimmer immediately changed the culture in Minnesota. Leslie Frazier seems like a nice guy, but there was no personality to him or any of his teams and he has a girls name. The players liked Frazier, but they accepted losing rather easily. Zimmer doesn’t put up with any bull shit. He’s a psychotic competitor and the Vikings seemed to take on that personality at times last season.

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NFC North Preview: Detroit Lions

| September 2nd, 2015

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

When I spoke with Detroit Lions fan Jeff Risdon last week, I was surprised by his optimism. Risdon is usually pretty down on the Lions, but he sees them as a team that will win 10 or more games and make the playoffs for the second straight year. Hell, he might be right, if the Lions catch a few breaks they just might be legitimate contenders for the NFC North title.

Why They’ll Win The North:

They almost did last year. Go back to their Week 3 game against the Packers and you’ll see they flat out bullied them. Aaron Rodgers left the game whining about Green Bay’s scheme — the same scheme that has had them among the highest scoring team in the league for almost a decade. The Lions had them stumped. They met again in Week 17 when the Packers were at their best and the game still came down to the fourth quarter.

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How Tim Jennings Got Cut

| August 31st, 2015

Tim-Jennings

On the surface, the Bears cutting Tim Jennings didn’t make any sense, but it appears Jennings made it clear he was just as ready to move on, which led to the release.

Jennings was clearly a part of their plan in 2015, but maybe not as big of a part as he wanted. He doesn’t fit what Vic Fangio typically looks for in cornerbacks, but Jennings was the best he had. Jennings started the first two preseason games and took nearly every rep with the Number One defense throughout camp. He wasn’t getting cut, so…how did he get cut?

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NFC North Preview: Green Bay Packers

| August 31st, 2015

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We hate them. Everyone outside of Wisconsin hates them. They’re good and both their players and their fans make damn sure we know it. The Packers should be the favorites to win the NFC North again this year, but a little bad luck could give the other three teams hope. Jordy Nelson’s torn ACL alone won’t be enough for the other teams to catch up as the Packers still have a roster that stacks up with the best in the league.

Why They’ll Win The North:

Even without Nelson, the Packers can beat opponents in so many different ways. If they want to throw it, they still have Rodgers with Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and their third-round pick Ty Montgomery or second-year receiver Jeff Janis. Losing Nelson is a blow, but don’t be surprised if Adams explodes this year and Nelson never gets his starting job back.

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Thoughts on The Third Preseason Game

| August 30th, 2015

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This Felt Familiar…

We’ve been here before. Or at least close to it. Just a year ago, the fans and the team entered the third preseason game with the expectation that the Bears would show something against the defending Super Bowl Champions. At halftime of that game, the Bears trailed 31-0.

This one wasn’t quite as bad, but the Bengals are not the 2014 Seahawks, especially not with a quarterbacking duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron. But this was bad. There were far too many instances where I felt like I was watching the 2014 Bears again. Unlike the 2014 Bears, the 2015 Bears have a coaching staff capable of making evaluations and adjustments.

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Things You Might Want to Watch During Thing People Call the Season’s “Dress Rehearsal”

| August 28th, 2015

Aug 8, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) looks on from the sideline in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during a preseason game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It is not a dress rehearsal. People should stop calling it a dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsals are attempts to recreate exactly what the performance of the play will be. Coaches don’t game plan these third preseason games and they won’t put anything on tape their week one opponent will utilize.

But here is some stuff you can look at.

(1) The most alarming moments of this week’s podcast with Adam Jahns was the concern in his voice when discussing Kyle Fuller. If Fuller does not perform to a solid level in 2015, the Bears secondary has a chance to be historically awful. He could use a decent performance in August to set the stage for September and this Saturday night he’ll get an opportunity against one of the league’s best receivers, A.J. Green.

(2) Right tackle. You can look over there but don’t look too closely.

(3) Eddie Goldman played far deeper in the second preseason game than I expected or would have liked him to. But it might be interesting to see the big monster out there with the first stringers this weekend, clogging the middle of the line to set the young linebackers free.

(4) Injuries. The Bears have ailing wide receivers, an ailing and aging left tackle, a suspended nose tackle…etc. If they are going to make anything of note out of the 2015 season, it would be helpful to put a decent roster together for their three difficult games to open the season.

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NFC North Consensus: Packers first, Bears last

| August 27th, 2015

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While Jeff is getting drunk and golfing in Ireland, I have been put in charge of doing NFC North Previews for DBB. To help get knowledge on some of the other teams, I called up a pair of colleagues and they had the same thought about the NFC North standings this year: The Packers will finish first and the Bears will finish last.

While my attempts to record podcasts with both failed, I spoke with Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Jeff Risdon of RealGM and ESPN 961 and they both were in agreement on how the division would shake out.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Ireland, Aaron, Underdogs, Jim McMahon on DP Show & More!

| August 25th, 2015

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DBB Administrative Announcement

I am heading to Ireland for the next two weeks. But through the magic of the internet I will be posting right up until Saturday. Andrew Dannehy will be writing previews for each of the other teams in the NFC North next week and Reverend Dave may even be weighing in from time to time.

I will return on Monday September 7th with my annual Fifty Prognostications, Pontifications & Ponderings on the 2015 NFL Season and then we’ll dive into the 2015 season.

Aaron Rodgers & I Share Common Ground

Presented without comment, from PFT:

“It’s difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game,” Rodgers said, via ESPN.com. “I think a lot of players around the league probably do [dislike preseason games]. At least cut it down, maybe, to a couple.”

Okay, one comment. He’s right. Players don’t want these games. Fans don’t want to pay for these games. But none of this will change until the players go into a labor negotiation with ownership and actually negotiate. You know, ask for stuff and then fight for that stuff.

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