This is the moment. Are you ready?
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?
I always like the Chicago Bears…
…and the champagne is on ice at Josie Woods Pub. There are few occasions that warrant excessive celebration in the basement bar I’ve called home for eighteen years. Beating the Packers to win the NFC North would absolutely be one of them. And I expect the Bears to deliver.
The Game Haiku
They have earned this stage.
And the lights that shine on it.
Why the Bears Will Win.
- Soldier Field. I mean, I wrote an entire piece on this topic a few days ago. Just go ahead and read that. If you don’t want to read it, here are the CliffsNotes™: the Chicago Bears have become a dominant team at home in 2018.
- Pass Rush. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 41 times, and hit a lot more than that. He’ll be playing Sunday with about 40% of his starting offensive line. I expect an angry performance from Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and the rest of the Bears front. They know that if they give Rodgers time in the pocket, he’ll find holes in the secondary. Expect them to hit the Green Bay quarterback and hit him often.
- Run Run Rudolph! Green Bay is one of the league’s weakest run defenses and the Bears are starting to find their identity on the ground as they make their playoff push. This is not a game Matt Nagy is going to ask Mitch Trubisky to win by throwing it 40+ times. This is game Nagy is going to win by controlling the line of scrimmage and keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. They’ll throw it effectively. But the run game will dominant.
Why They Won’t.
- Rodgers. The Bears have 25 interceptions. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 1 all season. Something’s gotta give, right? And historically it gives in the Green Bay quarterback’s favor. (See: Fuller, Kyle’s only negative plays of this entire season.) A question that may arise on Sunday is will Rodgers pick on Sherrick McManis, filling in for the injured Bryce Callahan? Don’t be surprised to see a bunch of targets for Randall Cobb from the slot.
- Trubisky. The quarterback was awful Sunday night against the Rams and that was without much pressure. The Packers can put together a pass rush and one would expect Mike Pettine to dial-up blitzes Trubisky hasn’t seen to try and force hurried decisions. Trubisky’s development is still ongoing, even if the rest of the team is on a different plateau now. He’s going to have bad games. But he can’t stack bad games if this team has serious aspirations for January.
- Specials. Other than Tarik Cohen on punt returns, I don’t trust a single piece of the “third phase”. Not the punter, even off his best outing in years. Not the coverage units, especially with McManis moving into a starting role on the defense. Certainly not the kicker, who is the team’s most substantial liability down the stretch. The Bears need to do a lot of work here in the offseason. But that won’t help them Sunday.
Tweet of the Week
The #Bears are 9-4 and have shown flashes of having everything. A great defense, a great offense. A running game and a passing game. They just haven’t put it all together.
If they can, watch out.
— Andrew Dannehy (@adannehy) December 11, 2018
Charity of the Week
Staying in-house for this one. A week ago I received an email from a fella named Neil Martyn. Here is that email:
I hope all is well.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Irish holiday St. Stephen’s Day (also called Wren’s Day), the 26th of December. I won’t go into specifics regarding traditions and all that. However, when a couple of my cousins came to Chicago 15 or so years ago, they wanted to keep the tradition of Wren’s Day alive so they turned the tradition of going house-to-house, playing trad music and collecting money into a pub crawl.
The day after Christmas, we visit 8 different Irish pubs on the SW side of Chicago drinking, playing trad music and collecting money for a benefit or a family who needs it or a scholarship at a local high school. It is, without a doubt, the most fun day of the year for my family and all of our family friends who tag along.
This year we are raising money for two little girls, Lucy (who is 6) and Winnie (who is a year) Ryan of Chicago who have a rare mitchondrial disease which causes the cells in the body to lack energy in order to function. The disease has taken a massive toll on the two of them and unfortunately, there is no cure. However, we’re going to raise as much money as possible to help the family with expenses and medical bills. We usually only collect on the day of St. Stephen’s Day but this year, we’ve opened it up already on a Facebook group my cousin started. I’m emailing you to ask if you would be able to include this as your charity in the gameday preview sometime before Dec. 26.
If you already have something planned for either one of the two game previews before then, that’s fine – no worries. I just thought I’d get the word out to someone who might have a larger reach than me…Thanks so much.
So I reached out to Del Reid up in Buffalo and we made sure this week’s 26Shirt went to benefit these two little girls. The shirt is excellent. It’s right there on the right rail.
(I ordered the hoodie. The Nagy/Trubisky hoodie has become one of my favorite pieces of clothing.)
Don’t Gamble, But If You Do…
Merry Christmas! (Next week will feature my five favorite Christmas movies and recordings of all-time.)
Tweet of the Week, Volume II
Bears head coach Matt Nagy on the week one loss to GB: “I want them to feel that. I want them to remember that.”
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) December 12, 2018
Went out on a limb last week and predicted an 11-point victory for the Bears. They won by 9. This week? I’m going even further. The far better team wins…and wins easily.
Chicago Bears 27
Green Bay Packers 13
(And I wanted to give Green Bay single digits. But I couldn’t.)