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Wildcard Weekend Gambling Guide!

| January 14th, 2022


All lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook. 

Saturday

  • Money Line Parlay: Bengals over Raiders, Bills over Patriots (+112).
    • I’m a believer in Bisaccia magic, and I think the Raiders pass rush will give Joe Burrow trouble, but the Bengals just have too much firepower to lose at home in the first round. I wouldn’t feel confident laying the six points, so I’m hanging onto the money line.
    • The most overrated victory of the season was New England’s Monday night victory in Buffalo. It wasn’t a real game. It was a football chess match played in a typhoon and Belichick might be the sport’s only master. The Bills are the better team, with the better quarterback. That’s where my money goes in the postseason.

Sunday

  • Money Line Parlay: Bucs over Eagles, Cowboys over Niners (+113).
    • Philly is 0-7 against playoff teams this season and the way you exploit this Bucs defense is with an accurate quarterback. (The Eagles don’t have that.) Tom Brady isn’t losing to Jalen Hurts.
    • Cowboys vs. Niners profiles as the game of the week but I don’t think San Francisco’s secondary can hang with these Dallas weapons. How the hell are the Niners covering a receiving corps that goes 4-5 deep with talent? (They’re not.)
  • Same Game Parlay: Chiefs -12.5 over Steelers / Under 46.5 points (+264).
    • I think the Steelers score ten points in this game, which means the Chiefs need to score only 23 to cover the number. It also means they need to score 37 to hit the over, and in frigid conditions that seems unlikely. 30-10 hits both bets safely and that’s my final score prediction.

Monday

For me, Cardinals at Rams is a gambling stay away. I don’t particularly trust either team. But the guide needs to have some action.

  • Spread: Rams -4 over Cardinals.
    • Since beating the Bears on December 5th, the Cardinals are 1-4, only eking out a victory over the Cowboys. This is a team, and a head coach, that peak on Halloween every season. And last week, in a game they needed, they let Rashaad Penny run for 8.3 yards per carry. You need to be tough to win on the road in the playoffs. That’s not this team.
    • Why is it a stay away, then? Because Matthew Stafford has been sneaky terrible for over a month. Would anyone be surprised if he threw three picks and threw the Rams season away?

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On My 40th Birthday, My 40 Favorite Chicago Bears of All-Time

| January 13th, 2022

Today, I turn 40 years old. So here is the ranking of my 40 favorite Chicago Bears of all-time. This is not my ranking of the best players in franchise history. These are my favorites.

(40) Cameron Worrell, Safety

(39) Ryan Wetnight, TE

(38) Robbie Gould, K

(37) Otis Wilson, LB

(36) Brian Urlacher, LB

(35) Red Grange, RB

(34) Bill George, LB

(33) Bronko Nagurski, All Kinds of Stuff

(32) Thomas Jones, RB

(31) Sid Luckman, QB

(30) Alex Brown, DE

(29) James “Big Cat” Williams, OT

(28) Rashied Davis, WR

(27) Patrick Mannelly, LS

(26) Lance Briggs, LB

(25) Mark Carrier, Safety

(24) Matt Forte, RB

(23) Kevin Butler, K

(22) Jay Hilgenberg, Center

(21) Jerry Azumah, CB

(20) Steve McMichael, DT

(19) Keith Traylor, DT

(18) Ted Washington, DT

(17) Dick Butkus, LB

(16) Jim McMahon, QB

(15) Mike Ditka, TE

(14) Jimbo Covert, OT

(13) Gale Sayers, RB

(12) Marty Booker, WR

Read More …

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Dannehy: No Sure Strategy for Finding Next Great Head Coach

| January 12th, 2022


Everyone has their preferred qualifications for the next Chicago Bears head coach. In a way, they are all correct. Or all wrong.

No Surefire Resume

There are 11 coaches who have been in the league for more than three years and won 60% of their games. Of those, five were defensive coaches. If you stretch the list to include Pete Carroll – currently at 59.3%, with a Super Bowl ring – it’s an even six offensive and six defensive coaches. So, while fans tend to focus on one side of the ball or the other, history doesn’t seem to prefer either when it comes to sustained success.

What’s maybe more interesting is that their coordinator experience isn’t all that relevant.

  • Five of the coaches were coordinators for at least five years. All of them had success, though they weren’t successful every year. (Bruce Arians had some awful offenses in Cleveland, so did Mike McCarthy in San Francisco. Sean McDermott was fired as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.)
  • Sean Payton was only a coordinator for three years, but he was stripped of play-calling duties by Jim Fassel early on and wasn’t a regular play caller again until he got to New Orleans.
  • Mike Tomlin and Mike Vrabel were only coordinators for one year. Tomlin was good, Vrabel wasn’t.
  • Matt LaFleur only called plays for one season, having one of the ten worst offenses in the league. (Are we sure LaFleur is good and isn’t just being carried by Aaron Rodgers?).
  • Andy Reid was never a coordinator at all.
  • John Harbaugh coached special teams.

Read More …

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Most of What George McCaskey Said Doesn’t Matter. Except This.

| January 11th, 2022

(This following column is by my former Chicago Now colleague, Adam Oestmann.)


Let’s start here: George McCaskey is not an idiot. A graduate of the Arizona State School of Law, McCaskey once served as an assistant state’s attorney in DeKalb and Lee counties before taking a position as ticketing director with his family-owned football team, the Chicago Bears, in 1991.

George would do that job — and by all accounts do it well — for the next 20 years, before being appointed Chairman of the Board following the retirement of his older brother Michael in 2011. At the time, Michael had this to say about his little brother: “He knows a lot about tickets and interacting with fans. He needs to add to that, and he will; knowledge about the finances of an NFL team, marketing, IT, sponsorships — all of the things that go into running an NFL team today.”

We’ll come back to that.

The morning of the NFL’s Black Monday, ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported the expected; the Bears had fired head coach Matt Nagy. Shortly thereafter, Schefter reported the less expected news that the team had also parted ways with its general manager, Ryan Pace. Bears fans were elated.

And while some may have reveled in two oft-vilified men losing their jobs, most of said elation had little to do with schadenfreude and everything to do with hope for the future. Nagy and Pace, consummate professionals to the bitter end, are nothing short of respectable men who were unable to achieve desired results. A new start means maybe the next people will. It’s that simple.

And so, the Chicago Bears quickly sent out a press release, saying that George McCaskey would be available to speak to the media that afternoon. The cherry on top for Bears fans being that George’s name was the only one on the release. Just like Christmas morning, we thought. Everything we wanted and more. A fresh start, and no Ted Phillips. Ahh.

That’s where elation ended.

Approximately an hour after 1:00 PM Chicago time, and most Bears fans were left scratching their heads at best, sick to their stomachs at worst. George McCaskey had found a way fumble the ball at the goal line. Opening with what I have no doubt was a well-intentioned tribute to the late Jeff Dickerson that was somehow shoehorned into a segue intended to chastise youngsters for heckling Matt Nagy at a high school football game, to having Ted on call, to refusing to speak his young quarterback’s name or offer Justin Fields even a token vote of confidence when offered the chance to do so three or four times, to calling Olin Kreutz a liar. Complete and total dumpster fire was all I could think. You had Bears fans in the palm of your hand and managed to screw it up in less than an hour.

I said that I don’t believe George McCaskey is an idiot. I think that’s true. But he is beyond tone deaf.

Read More …

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How Good is the Bears GM Gig: Three Questions with [REDACTED]

| January 11th, 2022


A neighborhood friend of mine has been in the upper echelon of several NFL organizations, including in his current role. I texted him three questions regarding the Bears GM opening. His answers are below, corrected for grammar (with his approval).

____________________

Question One: Generally speaking, how good is this job?

Great. In the last month, about twenty personnel guys around the league have asked me what I thought was happening with Ryan. That’s why I finally asked you. [I believe this was the first time he ever asked me for information.] The job comes with a lot of scrutiny but if you win, that’s your legacy. And because they sadly have not won often, the job has more long-term value than say Pittsburgh or Green Bay.

____________________

Question Two: Is Justin Fields viewed as an asset?

I’m a fan. And I know a lot of other guys are too. Just knowing you don’t have to deal with that position for a couple years while you build a roster is something that candidates will find very attractive.

____________________

Question Three: Without studying the Bears, where would you start?

I think the Bears have a lot of players that are “good enough” at key positions. But they need more blue chippers. How many do they have on that offense? Montgomery. Mooney has potential. That’s it right now. You need like five of those guys on both sides of the ball these days. The Bears have never, really for decades, been a team you line up against and fear them putting 40 on you. That has to change.

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Details on the Firings of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy

| January 10th, 2022


I have been pretty locked in on the thinking of Bears ownership over the last few months, actually working a few friends harder than I normally would for information. Here’s the fruits of those efforts.

  • Matt Nagy began to fall out of favor with ownership this summer. George McCaskey, and Ted Phillips, shared my outrage with how the quarterback position was being handled. George was physically moved to see Justin Fields receive a standing ovation at a preseason game and could not understand why Nagy, and to a lesser degree Pace, were eschewing that enthusiasm to play a journeyman quarterback.
  • Despite what has been reported, George never instructed Nagy to play Fields. But he did, almost weekly, ask WHY Fields wasn’t playing. The problem? Nagy’s answers never held water. When the coach would resort to tired phrases about the kid not being “ready”, the owner wanted to know what that actually meant. Nagy could never communicate that effectively.
  • The Bears decided to fire Nagy before Thanksgiving, but never entertained the idea of firing him in-season. Nagy never lost the locker room; the team constantly played with effort. The Bears are comfortable waiting until the season is over. Nagy was NOT told that week.
    • On the Patch report, the same source tried to leak that story to many journalists and non-journalists like me. We vetted it. It had no merit.
    • The Bears were furious about the story getting traction. And they still can’t believe they faced criticism for a bullshit story.
  • The decision to fire Ryan Pace was far more complicated and took FAR longer. Some highlights:
    • The Bears, through back channels, used a series of consultants to evaluate the whole of their football operation. Bill Polian was involved. Tony Dungy was involved. In the early stages of that process, the recommendation was veering towards only replacing Pace if they could land an
    • established GM. But at the conclusion of the process, the formal recommendation was for the Bears to move on.
    • Ozzie Newsome was approached about a formal role in the organization. He chose to remain retired.
    • The Bears put out feelers to both Kevin Colbert and John Schneider, gauging potential availability and interest. (I honestly don’t know the outcomes of those feelers, but Colbert is retiring from the Steelers after this coming draft.)
    • The Bears have been pretty definitively firing Pace for a few weeks. But it became “official” last Wednesday.
    • Polian helped compile a list of a dozen GM candidates and those meetings will begin immediately. I do not know what his involvement will be in the coming weeks.

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