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HughesReviews: The Ten Best Christmas Movies of All-Time

| December 24th, 2019

This year I started watching holiday films on the day before Thanksgiving, opening with the wonderful Home for the Holidays and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A month later, I’ve sat through just about every Christmas movie, TV special and Christmas sitcom episode there is to sit through. 68 in total. Before getting to my ten favorites, a few notes.

  • I can’t deal with It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s just so damn dreary. I know it’s beloved but not by me.
  • No, A Christmas Story is not on this list. And I recognize that will be an issue for many but this is my list and I legitimately dislike that movie.
  • Those stop motion pictures creep me out. Year Without Santa Claus, Rudolph…etc.
  • Can’t an argument be made that A Christmas Carol is the greatest book ever written? Look at how many brilliant interpretations of that novel have been created (two on this list alone).
  • Even the non-great films produce some beautiful scenes:
    • Mila Kunis and Christine Baranski in the church at the end of Bad Moms Christmas.
    • Seth Rogen tripping out at the sight of a crucified Jesus in The Night Before.
    • Nic Cage coming clean to the town in Trapped in Paradise.
    • Schwarzenegger rifling off the names of the reindeer in Jingle All the Way.
    • Tim Allen giving the cruise to his neighbors in Christmas with the Kranks.
    • John Lithgow’s scenery chewing in Santa Claus the Movie.
    • Danny Elfman’s great tunes in Nightmare Before Christmas.

The list, with clips and such instead of writing. All of these movies are known.


#10 Die Hard


#9 Bad Santa


#8 Home Alone


#7 Gremlins


#6 The Ref

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Three Questions With One Game Remaining

| December 23rd, 2019

The Bears are one game away from wrapping up this miserable bore of a campaign. Here are three questions facing them.


#1. Have they seen enough from the QB? He’s awful, plain and simple. If he’s the starter next September the ceiling for 2020 is 8/9 wins. Last night was his SEVENTH game this season with a rating of 70 or below. And when you’re checking down on 4th and 23, and throwing jump balls out of bounds into double coverage, do we really need to discuss your football IQ anymore? He can’t play.


#2. How many inside backers do they pay? Roquan, when mentally right, is a stud. Kwik and KPL can play. Trevathan is still beloved in the locker room and a veteran leader. Where will the Bears spend their resources at this position come the off-season? Is there really a wrong decision?


#3. Will they extend Allen Robinson? He’s an incredible player and he’s proven that true with some of the worst QBs in league history. Robinson should be back in Chicago, extended, and paid handsomely. The Bears have the structure of a terrific receiving corps. They just need someone capable of getting them the football,

 

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Chiefs at Bears Game Preview Volume II: Can the Bears Pull Off a Signature Win in 2019?

| December 20th, 2019

I miss the Billy Goat every single day I’m not there.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

Even now, even through this rocky campaign, I still do.


Three Statistical Thoughts

  • QB rating is a flawed statistic. A Hail Mary picked off to end the first half is the same negative as an interception thrown on a final drive with the team down 4. Productive incompletions don’t exist. Bubble screens and easy completions are gold. But ultimately the stat persists because it’s become a good, general representation of which quarterbacks are playing well and which quarterbacks are not. (One needs only look at the top 12 in the stat currently to see that there are very few, if any, outliers.)
    • Trubisky has 6 games this season with a 70 rating or below. Six.
    • Mahomes has one in the last two seasons combined. One. Total.
  • Right now there are 11 teams with a turnover differential of +5 or better: Pats, Packers, Seahawks, Vikings, Saints, Ravens, Steelers, Chiefs, Titans, Bills, Niners. Only one of those teams – the Titans – are not currently in the playoffs. (And they are basically playing playoff games the next two weeks.) It is the most important statistic in the game and it’s a primary reason the Bears aren’t in the postseason this year. Their defense has been good but it hasn’t been able to compensate for the bad offense by turning opponents over and scoring.
  • Everyone blames the Bears lack of rushing attack for their struggles on offense, if the goal is not to blame Trubisky. The Chiefs rank 25th in this category and run for only 7 more yards per game than the Bears. Yet they are top five in both total yards and points per game. The reason why is pretty simple.
    • And the Chiefs don’t have a particularly good offensive line either. Not a single member of that unit was voted to the Pro Bowl. Nor was a running back. Yet the QB, two receivers and a TE were. Again, not hard to figure out why.

Tweet of the Week

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Chiefs at Bears Game Preview Volume I: Mitch vs. Mahomes

| December 19th, 2019


If you want to make this week’s edition of Sunday Night Football interesting, here’s a potential drinking game. Every time a broadcaster mentions the fact that Mitch Trubisky was taken before Pat Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft, drink a full pint glass of Malört. Or bleach. Or motor oil. Or better yet, blow off the drinking game and just watch the game on mute.

———-

If there was any thought that Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers would take the steam out of the remainder of the 2019 season, this match-up immediately dispels that notion. Sure it’s primetime, national television, Soldier Field. But more than any of those things, it’s Mitch versus Mahomes, for the first time. To this point in their careers, the battle has been a hypothetical one. And Mitch has been hypothetically knocked unconscious in the first round.

But two seasons do not a career make.  And don’t think for a second that Mitch doesn’t know it.

The beleaguered quarterback has been fiery of late, especially with the media. He’s playing with more anger, and more urgency, and more fight. Many of the NFL’s failed quarterbacks didn’t want to be great; didn’t put in the work required to achieve greatness. Mitch doesn’t have those problems. He wants it. He works for it. But he’s still nowhere near the top shelf of NFL quarterbacks, even while showing multiple flashes of the ability Ryan Pace expected on a week-to-week basis when he selected him second overall.

Green Bay felt like a litmus test game for Trubisky but was it? If Trubisky plays well over these final two games, will anybody remember the one time he struggled over the final month plus of the season?  And more importantly, if he can out-play the man whose success haunts him like the ghost of Jacob Marley, it could send a shock wave of positive vibes through the Halls of Halas and inspire confidence in the teammates who until recently had been questioning their signal caller in DMs across the internet.

A follower on Twitter (@mosconml) put it best. Trubisky has upgraded from “needs to be replaced” to “needs competition”. That’s where things stand now. When the clock strikes Monday things could be significantly different. Because while they’ll never be on the field at the same time, Sunday Night Football is all about Mitch vs. Mahomes. The latter has proven he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the sports. The former has proven nothing.


Tomorrow: Volume II, including the Game Prediction!

 

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Week 16: The Game Poem

| December 18th, 2019

The String

by j. hughes


They call it the string,

and you play it out.

It’s not a fun thing,

to be writing about.

Too often this team

has found themselves here.

Ending a dream,

with eyes on next year.

The table was set

for a brilliant campaign.

Expectations unmet,

we keep corked the champagne.

The string is what we fear,

to see it played out,

As we add another year

To the Super Bowl drought.

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The Season is Over. Now What?

| December 16th, 2019

Many fans, even yesterday, were still clinging to the 1.8% chance (or whatever it was) of the Bears making a late push to get into the postseason tournament. With another dismal offensive failure, those chances have now officially evaporated. So where do the Bears go from here? Here are four thoughts.


Thought #1. Start Kevin Toliver.

Prince Amukamara is not healthy and he’s playing like it. He’s also very unlikely in the team’s plans for next season. Kevin Toliver has looked the part of an NFL starter and the Bears should make sure he gets these valuable, real-game reps over the final two weeks, especially considering the next two opponents feature prolific passing attacks.


Thought #2. Put Akiem Hicks on IR.

Hicks is a warrior. There’s no denying that. But this is not a battle worth fighting. The most important thing for Hicks and the Bears is that one of their best players is healthy come opening day in September. Shut him down.


Thought #3. Trubisky is coming back, so…

…the team needs to use these final two games to evaluate him as best they can. He’s clearly improving. He’s clearly got the potential to be an NFL starter. But he’s nowhere near good enough to get this team – and specifically this defense – to the first Sunday in February. Does this club believe he can take “the leap” prior to the 2020 season? Will they bring in a veteran to actually challenge 10 or is a Marcus Mariota coming around to provide more support in the room? The Bears know they have an issue at quarterback. How are they gonna address it?


Thought #4. Have Some Damn Fun

Fans hate talking about sports as entertainment but man, so many of these Bears games this season have been horrible bores. Spend these final two games – both against playoff teams – emptying the playbook and giving the fans something to enjoy. Blitz a bunch. Go for it on fourth downs. Put a few trick plays into the plan. Do everything in your power to provide a good, solid product. It’s the least you can do.

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Trubisky is not the guy.

| December 16th, 2019


(This column first ran after the Saints game. There’s no point in rewriting it.)

If you want to spend this Monday criticizing the defensive performance over the last two weeks, go right ahead. But I’m not going to join you. Sure they have struggled getting off the field but the Bears have a collection of terrific defensive players and they’ll be just fine in the long run.

If you want to question the vision and direction of the head coach over your morning coffee, go right ahead. Matt Nagy’s play-calling has been suspect (at best) and the offense lacks any semblance of coherence. But Nagy’s going to get time to right this ship because unlike his most recent predecessors, he has a 12-4 division title on his resume.

If you want to discuss the fumbling or the blocked punts or whatever other mistakes are on your mind before lunch, feel free to do just that. Those things shouldn’t happen to championship-caliber clubs and championship-caliber is what was expected from the 2019 Chicago Bears.

But those things aren’t the story today.

The story was picked number two and wears number ten.

The story plays the most important position in professional sports.

The story is Mitch Trubisky.

And the story is over.

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