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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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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears Try to End the Losing in Minnesota

| December 18th, 2015

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Sell Chicago Bears Tickets

8-8 is still on the table. 3-3 in the division is still on the table. Neither remains there if the Bears lose in Minnesota Sunday. I don’t think a John Fox team ever lacks for motivation and this one has no reason to.

THE GAME POEM

“Shall fair ladies never learn that I,
from blows me shielding, backward turned me;
nor shall ever Ingibiorg taunt me,
in Sigtuna sitting, that from sword-blows I fled.”

-From the Old Norse poem, Hialmar’s Death Song

3 THOUGHTS ON THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS

  • Blaine Gabbert, Kirk Cousins and now Teddy Bridgewater. The Bears are facing three very similar quarterbacks in a row and Bridgewater might be the most limited of the bunch. As a quarterback he does two things I don’t like consistently: (a) he doesn’t create plays with his legs when he feels pressure in the pocket and (b) he doesn’t stretch defenses with his arm. He’s a quick read/quick toss dink-and-dunker. If the Bears play soft on the outside, they deserve to have the ball moved on them.
  • Hard to evaluate the Vikings defense in recent weeks as arguably their three best defenders have been on the bench. But Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith returned to the practice field this week and there’s a very slight (very) chance Anthony Barr will give it a go Sunday. It shouldn’t be expected that any of them are 100% but their presence in the lineup can only be positive.
  • Minnesota is arguably the best kick return team in the league. (They already did some damage against the Bears this season.) The Bears coverage units can’t allow the Vikings to score on specials or play on short fields. Although, with the way the football is leaving Robbie’s foot these days, I’d expect the Vikings to have several shots to make a game-changing play on specials.

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Money Mouth: Three Picks for Week Fifteen

| December 17th, 2015

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Three. And. Oh. Much needed.

Ravens Under 17 pts vs. Chiefs

Chiefs are a good defensive team. And here is an amazing excerpt from an ESPN piece about the Baltimore Ravens:

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen didn’t get the win Sunday. He didn’t lead a touchdown drive.

But he did enough in the 35-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks to earn a second start with the Baltimore Ravens.

If James Clausen beats you, you get beat.

Bears +5.5 at Vikings

Bears margins of victory/defeat since Jay Cutler returned from injury: 2, 1, 3, 3, 3, 24, 2, 6, 3. Is there really any reason to believe this game won’t come down to the final few moments and be decided by a field goal or so? Taking the points with the Bears seems the astute move.

Lions & Saints Over 50.5 pts

Lions v. Rams hit 35 points on Sunday. And the Rams have a terrific defense and putrid offense. The Saints, by comparison, have a potentially prolific offense and putrid defense. And both teams have nothing to play for so this could be one of those, “What the hell, let’s go for it on all the fourth downs!” games.

Season Record: 23-17-2

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks for Week 12

| November 27th, 2015

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Hit a three-team, money line, Thanksgiving parlay for substantial cash yesterday so feeling good today. This week I’m rolling the dice and picking with my hopes and dreams and not with my mind or wallet concerns. What do the Bears need this weekend? These…

MINNESOTA +1.5 AT ATLANTA

Bears would trail the second wild card by a single game with a Vikings win. So I’m predicting a Vikings win.

PITTSBURGH +3.5 AT SEATTLE

Bears need to catch and pass the Seahawks in the standings due to James Clausen’s embarrassing performance. A loss to the Steelers would put both teams at 5-6. It happens.

INDIANAPOLIS -3 VS. TAMPA BAY

You want a football reason? I don’t have one. Go Colts!

Season Record: 17-14-2

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Nine

| November 5th, 2015

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Can’t complain about my picks a week ago. Saints flew by their number. Packers never approached theirs. And the Bears / Vikings game was a coin flip. 2-1. Four games over .500 on the season. This week…

ST. LOUIS +3 AT MINNESOTA

One team I think is very good. The other team is the Minnesota Vikings. And if Teddy Bridgewater struggled against the Bears defense, what is he going to do against one of the best defenses in the sport?

GREEN BAY -3 AT CAROLINA

No comment. Well one comment. Where are all the people who argued the Packers wouldn’t miss Jordy Nelson? They seem awfully quiet to me. The Packers are consistently credited for having magnificent drafts and an unending basket of talent. But it’s never been true. They have an all world quarterback. But even he misses his best and most reliable weapon.

CHICAGO & SAN DIEGO OVER 49 PTS

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Season Record: 13-9-2

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Eight

| October 29th, 2015

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Three picks last week. Rams beat the Browns easily. Patriots barely scraped by the 28.5 number. Colts decided to spot the Saints about 70 points. Mediocre week but I knew it was coming. This week, I rebound.

GREEN BAY PACKERS UNDER 24 AT DENVER

Packers haven’t been convincing offensively in a month and the Broncos are one of the better defenses in the game. What scares me about this bet? I could very easily see Peyton Manning throwing points the other way. (I can’t believe that’s where we are with Manning.) I’m betting on Gary Kubiak committing to the run game, keeping Rodgers on the bench and still losing 20-17.

CHICAGO BEARS +1 OVER MINNESOTA

Hot hand.

The Bears have been a covering machine, even if I had an early line and pushed with them two weeks ago. Having seen enough of the Vikings I’m simply not that impressed. Love Cutler’s record against Minnesota, especially at home.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OVER 27 VS. NYG

Giants last three opponents were quarterbacked by Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford and Matt Cassel and they surrendered 27-27-20 points. Drew Brees is hot right now and I don’t think the Giants defense can withstand this onslaught.

Season Record: 11-8-2

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