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First & Final Game Preview of 2016: Bears at Vikings

| December 30th, 2016

No Weekend Show this week as I’m under the weather and my voice is dogshit. Thus, we return to an old standby…THE GAME PREVIEW!

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

Any Football Reasons, Jeff?

Sure. Four:

  • Mutiny in Minnesota. Not sure I’ve ever heard stories like the ones coming out of the Vikings game against Green Bay last weekend. The head coach created a defensive approach, taught it to his players and then a corner decided, “Eh, fuck it.” Then they told the press all about it! We knew something was wrong in Minny when Norv jumped ship mid season. I don’t think anyone knew it was this wrong.
  • #barkleytime. Yep, I’m making the prediction. Matt Barkley will rebound from the awful performance against Washington and play his way to Bourbonnais.
  • What is the fatal flaw of these Bears? Their secondary. What quarterback threatens the secondary less than Bradford? I’m not sure. Bradford wants to dink and dunk his way to glory and that plays right into the hands of Fangio’s defense.
  • There was a time when the Vikings rush defense looked like the league’s best. But there was also a time when the Vikings were good. Now they’re a midpack rush defense, facing a juggernaut back 60 or so yards from the Bears rookie record. Jordan Howard dominates.

Football Friday & Saturday (The Future)

Players to watch in the bowl games over the next two days:

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Is Anything Worth Watching Sunday?

| December 26th, 2016

While the nation’s drinking amateurs battle their New Year’s Eve hangovers, many of us with saddle up our favorite barstool to watch the last Chicago Bears game of this depressing, injury-plagued 2016 campaign. But is the experience anything more than a mere formality?

Many will argue no. They will say nothing happening on the field in Minnesota will have any bearing on the future of this football team. And, honestly, it’s a point well-taken. But my job is to find meaning. So I’m doing my job. Here’s three things worth paying attention to when it comes to the finale.

The Barkley Rebound

#Barkleytime is coming off his first clunker of 2016 and it would be easy for fans to expect the sailing passes and poor decision making from his effort against Washington to continue. Sunday’s Barkley was the one many us expected and were shocked not to see through his first four starts.

Another dud and the bloom comes entirely off the rose. But a solid, mistake-free start could make it easy for Ryan Pace to keep Barkley in the fold moving forward. He’s shown tremendous rebound within game, often shaking off a poor three quarters to deliver a brilliant fourth. Can he rebound with a week of negativity between starts?

The Run Defense

A coach once told me “run defense is all about want to”. If that’s true the Bears haven’t wanted to in a fortnight.

Both Green Bay and Washington out-muscled the the middle of the Bears defense and took advantage of their lack of discipline on the outside. Yes, there are injuries playing a role in these struggles. But injuries don’t excuse McPhee letting Cousins around the edge, Amos taking bad angles or Hicks disappearing after a dominant period mid-season.

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Eight Thoughts From an NFL Sunday

| November 7th, 2016

Thoughts from a solid, entertaining day with the NFL.

(1) Norv Turner may be gone but the Minnesota offense isn’t going to be a title contender with those tackles and those skill guys. Detroit’s defense – in their new building – should have been the remedy. But not only did they struggle moving the ball but they’re now getting Sam Bradford hit with regularity. And we all know what happens when you get Bradford hit. You get Bradford hurt.

(2) Matthew Stafford is becoming the best late-game quarterback in the league. Detroit’s offense was lifeless throughout the second half  but with the game on the line and clock expiring, Stafford did what he’s done so often for this organization: pulled a win out of a loss.

(3) John Elway has been a brilliant GM for the Broncos. But he is wasting a year of a great defense by doing this Trevor Siemian stuff. The second the Broncos fall behind in a game, they’ve lost.

(4) Ted Thompson has done a terrible job building the Packers roster and Mike McCarthy will probably be fired for it. Aaron Rodgers’ play will receive the most scrutiny but Andrew Luck ripped that defense to shreds Sunday. Why? Because that defense isn’t any good.

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Bears Dominate Vikings in Jay’s Return

| November 1st, 2016

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Jay Cutler was great. The defense was great. And the Bears dominated a team someone (me) told you was a great match-up for them. Rapid fire.

  • The pass rush did exactly what it should against that Vikings offensive line. Minnesota had no answer for McPhee, Floyd or Hicks.
  • Jordan Howard is the real deal and it seemed John Fox came to that realization at some point Monday night. This is not a player who should be rotating at the running back position. He is their best runner at the position, their best pass catcher at the position and a solid pass blocker. Spell him, of course, but he should be getting twenty-five touches every week.
  • Two plays stood out to Jon Gruden Monday night when it came to Cutler. One, obviously, was the step up in the pocket shuffle pass to Howard for a big gain. The other was far more subtle. Later in the game. First down. The pocket collapsed on Cutler and he scrambled to his left and ran for a gain of one or two. Was it a big play? No. Does Brian Hoyer lose seven or eight yards on it? Absolutely. That’s the difference.

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Three Reasons the Bears Can Win Tonight

| October 31st, 2016

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You may think it’s odd but the Vikings are a decent match-up for the Bears. Even with the RapSheet report of turmoil inside the Bears organization, this team has a chance to give their fans a nice moment in what will be their last nationally televised ballgame.

Three reasons they may win.

  • Vikings can’t block the edge and the Bears pass rush is emerging. With McPhee back on the field, Floyd coming off his breakout performance and Young delivering steady performances each week, the Bears edge rushers have an opportunity to wreck the game and force Sam Bradford into some horrible mistakes.
  • With injuries on the offensive line, Jay Cutler’s return is massive.  Brian Hoyer would have been a sitting duck for this Vikings’ rush but Cutler’s ability to extend plays with his legs and actually run for available first downs should allow the Bears offense to stay on the field. (And he’s fresh!)
  • Alshon. It would be shocking if Jay doesn’t float at least 2-3 balls deep to Jeffery tonight. Both men have a point to prove – to this organization and the 31 others – and both will be eager to prove it together. Every time the Vikings isolate Alshon in man, expect Jay to look his way.

Should the Bears win? No. Can they? Absolutely.

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Playoff Picks: Wildcard Round

| January 8th, 2016

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Administrative Note: We’ll resume our postseason positional analysis columns on Monday with running backs, Tuesday with wide receivers, Wednesday with tight ends & Thursday we’ll wrap up the offensive side of the ball with our analysis of the line. (Defense will come after the division round.)

KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON

Am I willing to embrace the notion of Brian Hoyer winning a postseason game? No, I’m not. Am I willing to cast my support unabashedly for Andy Reid in a postseason game? No, I’m not. But since I picked the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl in August I might as well continue seeing red. And on a football note, the Chiefs don’t look to throw the ball downfield so their short passing attack should be able to neutralize the Houston’s greatest asset: Watt, Whitney and the pass rush. Chiefs 20, Texans 13

PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI

Here’s what I keep hearing from folks analyzing the wildcard round: nobody wants to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s my follow-up question: why? The Steelers controlled their road to the postseason and lost to Marc Trestman and Ryan Mallett! (And the game wasn’t particularly close.) Then in Week 17 the Steelers were horrible against Cleveland, with Big Ben throwing ugly picks to second-rate linebackers. If Austin Davis weren’t starting for the Browns and they didn’t decide to fumble away the second half, the Jets would be in the playoffs. So is Pittsburgh just going to turn it on? Bengals 24, Steelers 22

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Vikings Hand Bears Third Straight Loss (Rapid Fire)

| December 21st, 2015

The Bears have hit a wall. They overachieved for the better part of this season and there seems to be very little left in the tank. Injuries and lack of talent have finally caught up with them. When a game is this lopsided there’s little reason to dissect the minutiae but here comes rapid fire nevertheless…

  • How Ryan Pace handles Alshon Jeffery will be interesting. He’s a difference maker on the field but he just never seems to be on the field. Can you really pay a receiver elite money when he is only out there ten games a season?
  • Offensive line is climbing the ladder of concern every week. Too many penalties and three of the five positions have been legitimately poor for several weeks. All the skill talent in the world won’t make a difference in 2016 if Bears can’t block em up front.
  • Jay Cutler’s season has stalled with the declining line play. But even when he’s had time to throw, there’s nowhere to go with the ball. No, the receivers are not getting open. But can’t Adam Gase create some easy non-bubble screen throws to move the ball? I keep hearing how effective Gase’s system has been. I haven’t a clue what that system entails.

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