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The 26Shirts Game Preview: Week Two

| September 18th, 2020

The current shirt from 26Shirts is my concept and design and you can see it over on the right rail (or down below on mobile). Proceeds going to great cause. You can read all about that, and place your order, by CLICKING HERE. It ain’t just tee shirts, either. The hoodies, light and sweatshirt-style, are both very cool.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears, despite this Allen Robinson situation.

Would I like to see Robinson in Chicago long-term? Of course. Would I be rushing to give him $20 million a year without knowing who my quarterback is in 2021? Nope. No I would not.

Nevertheless, Robinson’s case is only supported by positive play and that’s what I would expect moving forward.


Breaking Down the New York Giants

Offense

  • Everything with this offense feeds off the running game and Saquon Barkley. If the Giants are getting four or five yards a carry with their star running back it opens up their entire playbook and makes them a very difficult group to defend.
  • If the run game isn’t working for the Giants, they’ll try to compensate for deficiencies at the offensive tackle spots with quick, mid-range slants to Sterling Shepard or by mismatching their tight ends on opposing linebackers and safeties. This is a difficult way to move the ball because it requires 10-12 plays, mistake free, for points.
  • Darius Slayton is the deep threat and the Giants will take their shots if Daniel Jones is given consistent time in the pocket. Eddie Jackson can’t let Slayton get over the top.
  • Pressure, of course, is always key, but specifically against Jones. When Jones is drop-and-toss he’s strong-armed and accurate. When he sits deep for an extra second or two (and often pump fakes) he gives defensive backs opportunities to make plays on the ball. He’s also one of the game’s more prolific fumblers.
  • If you blitz Jones, you better have eyes on Barkley. He’s a home run waiting to happen on every screen. And Barkley is one of the worst blocking backs in the sport so his only viability in the passing game is in space.

Defense

  • This is not a particularly talented group but they compensate with (a) hustle and (b) disguise. If their opener is any indication, they’ll keep Trubisky guessing right up until the snap.
  • Two players to account for on this defense: Lorenzo Carter and Blake Martinez. They are the engine.
  • The Bears will once again be seeing an underwhelming collection of corners. James Bradberry can play but Corey Ballentine and Darnay Holmes are liabilities with the ball in the air. Trubisky can’t be afraid to give his receivers opportunities to make plays. If he’s waiting for Robinson and Miller and Mooney to get open in space, he’s waiting too long.

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Rewatch Notes: Three Easy Adjustments for Mitch Trubisky for Week Two

| September 17th, 2020

The advantage of being a home subscriber to Sunday Ticket for the first time is the brilliance of condensed game broadcasts. (These are rebroadcasts of the game with everything but the plays themselves removed.) After several re-watches of Bears/Lions, there are a few clear adjustments Mitch Trubisky can make from Week One to Week Two to keep the chains moving and get this offense into the end zone.


Adjustment #1: Footwork

Whether it be general anxiety or indecisiveness, Mitch’s feet are an absolute mess at times. Not at all times, mind you, but still too frequently for a quarterback in his fourth season. This has to be the focus of the quarterback room all week as several misses…

  • Fourth down shank to Ted Ginn
  • Air ball to Demetrius Harris in the end zone
  • Way-too-short floater to Robinson down the right sideline in the fourth quarter

…were directly attributable to messy mechanics. Set your feet. Release the football.


Adjustment #2: Take What’s There

Two plays stood out to me.

2nd Quarter. 11:08 Remaining. 2nd and 12. When Mitch drops into the pocket, he has Darnell Mooney wide open on a shallow cross.

What did Mitch do? He threw a deep ball five yards by Allen Robinson, who was blanketed in coverage. If he dumps this ball to Mooney, it’s 3rd and 5 at the worst! 3rd and 5 opens the entire playbook for Matt Nagy.

But what about the next play? Now, 3rd and 12. Here’s what Mitch has in front of him when he delivers the football.

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Thoughts From Around the NFL After Week One

| September 16th, 2020


Normally, these kinds of thoughts would be relegated to the Twitter feed once the season begins but this season is unique. With no good camp reporting anywhere, and no preseason fake games to look at it, the last five days were the first opportunity to see these 32 teams in any realistic way. So having caught at least condensed game versions of every team, some thoughts.


NFC North.

A week ago, these were the odds to win the NFC North: Vikings +160, Packers +180, Bears +380, Lions +550.

Today, these are the odds: Packers +110, Vikings +260, Bears +300, Lions +900.

These odds didn’t move because of the lunacy of Bears/Lions. They moved because Aaron Rodgers was the best player in the league Week One and the Vikings defense didn’t look like they’d practiced this summer.  (The gap closure between the Vikings and Bears is sizable for one week.) Pay no attention to the final score of the game (43-34). The Packers led 30-10 going into the fourth quarter and called off the dogs. Oh, and they scored two more touchdowns without the dogs. If Rodgers needed 60 Sunday, he could have gotten it.


NFC East.

The story in this division was a tale of two lines. Washington has a terrific collection of DL talent but it’s clear Carson Wentz and the Eagles won’t survive with their makeshift OL. Wentz was a sitting duck, sacked 8 times, and flustered throughout.

Sometimes coaches get enamored with this “next man up” bullshit and that’s clearly what happened with Doug Pederson. “Next man up” is fun to say but teams don’t have the economic freedom to create the depth necessary to execute it. The Eagles don’t have good players on their OL right now and their scheme relies upon having one of the best lines in the game. They need to embrace what’s actually happening, and change the scheme.

(The Cowboys changed coaches and looked exactly the same.)

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Bears Steal One in Detroit: Non-Trubisky Rapid Fire

| September 14th, 2020

[NOTE: Reader “sactown#1” guessed that Trubisky passer rating on the number, 104.2. Please email me and we’ll coordinate your prize package from Lou Malnati’s.]

Yesterday, on Twitter, was dedicated almost entirely to Mitch Trubisky. So today let’s spread out the commentary beyond the QB, knowing full well he’ll remain the focal point moving forward.


This tape should be shown to the defense on loop all week. So many mistakes, it’s hard to know where to start.


  • Poor performance generally from the defense but that was to be expected. This was the first live game action for the group and there were many new pieces.
  • Both Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson has me great moments but both let interceptions go through their fingertips down near the goal line. Can’t happen. Have to make those plays.
  • Danny Trevathan looked awfully slow.
  • Akiem Hicks was downright invisible until the fourth quarter.
  • Without Robert Quinn active the pass rush was 2019 all over again. Khalil Mack fighting through doubles and triples while nothing happens on the other side. (Mack still won many of those battles.) Bears need Quinn.
  • Matthew Stafford played a terrific game. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that. Biggest mistake Lions made was taking the game out of his hands late.
  • Saw a lot of positive things from Bilal Nichols.
  • Barkevious Mingo was more active than I imagined he would be.

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The Lou Malnati’s Game Preview: Week One

| September 11th, 2020

In just a few days the Bears will play football. Someone will keep score. It’ll count. We’ll take it.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I don’t see any way the Lions are able to get the Bears blocked up front. The early days of this season should favor ability over scheme and that’s a lot of ability rushing the passer. Legendary NYC radio host Mike Francesa always used the phrase “wreck the game” when it came to the elite pass rushers and the Bears have three guys – Mack, Quinn, Hicks – who can potentially wreck this one. Expectations are for all three to play, and play well.


Actual Football Thoughts Re: Detroit

  • Mitch Trubisky’s success against the Lions is not a myth. But it is absurd.
    • In five career games, he has completed 70.1% of his passes for 1,359 yards, 11 TDs and only 4 INTS. That’s a passer rating of 106.3.
    • In his three starts against them under Matt Nagy, those numbers move to 74.7%, 9/1 TD to INT and a rating of 132.4. And most importantly, three victories.
    • Let’s take just touchdowns and interceptions for a second. Remove the Lions numbers from Mitch’s totals and he’s at 37 TDs and 25 INTs. That’s…horrendous. It’s quite remarkable how these Lions performances have skewed his poor career statistics slightly more positive.
  • Remember the Thanksgiving game a year ago? (I honestly didn’t before doing a bit of research for this.) Matt Patricia had Matt Prater squib a kickoff, trying to avoid a game-breaking return from Cordarrelle Patterson. The ball takes a weird bounce, hits a Bear, recovered by the Lions. (People actually tried to argue Prater hit a Bear on purpose because people are generally dumb.) In a game certain to be low-scoring and close, expect similar tactics from Patricia Sunday. The Lions know the pressure facing Trubisky and there’s no way they’ll allow the Bears to score cheap points, or create short fields, from explosive plays on specials.
  • The Lions need to run the ball against all three teams in this division and their selection of D’Andre Swift in the second round was a move in that direction. But Swift isn’t healthy and might not even be active this week. Expect the Lions to come with a committee of Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson as they attempt to test the Bears’ rush defense without their best rush defender, Eddie Goldman.
  • The talk of Lions camp? Kenny Golladay. Not only is the rising star wideout expected to sign a lucrative extension very shortly but he’s been absolutely dominating their over-matched secondary in practice sessions. If there’s one player on this Lions team the Bears can’t let beat them, it’s Golladay. Chuck Pagano should expect the Lions to find ways to get him matched up with Jaylon Johnson or Buster Skrine early and often. And while it’s not their usual tactic, they should shade Eddie Jackson to Golladay all day long. If Marvin Jones or Danny Amendola win their one-on-ones, so be it.

The Malnati’s Opening Day Giveaway

Our partners at Lou Malnati’s are generously giving away another prize package – exclusive to DBB readers and followers – to celebrate the first football Sunday. The package includes two Malnati’s deep dish pizzas and the Chicago football cookie trio from Deerfields Bakery. (See the cookies right here.)

What do you need to do to win this package worth north of $100? Just guess Mitch Trubisky’s passer rating for Sunday. Rules:

  • You can only guess once.
  • The guess must be a stand alone comment on this thread. Don’t bury your guess inside a 34-comment conversation about South African Troskyist Ted Grant. I’m not digging for entries.
  • No tiebreakers. If someone has already posted 79.6, don’t post another 79.6. The first one is going to be the winner.
  • Your only responsibility is to share photos of the Malnati’s experience with me via Twitter or email so they can promote it on their social channels.

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Super Bowl 55 Prediction

| September 10th, 2020


Last year I put the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. That was a smart pick.

Last year I put the Bears in the game with them. That was devastatingly less smart.

This year’s Super Bowl prediction started with a basic premise. After this jilted, bizarre off-season and with an uncertain season to come, who do I trust most to endure? Veteran coaches. Reliable quarterbacks. That’s who. Story as old as time.

I think the Ravens are gonna be good but I don’t trust Lamar Jackson to hold up physically. I think the Titans are gonna be good but I don’t trust Ryan Tannehill to repeat his 2019. I think the Bills are gonna be good but Josh Allen isn’t ready to win multiple playoff games. That puts Andy Reid and Pat Mahomes – the best coach/quarterback duo in the sport – on pace to grab the now PIVOTAL number one seed and find themselves in Tampa come February.

And they’ll be playing a road game.

The Bucs were a good football team in 2019. You just might not have noticed because their quarterback threw 30 interceptions and essentially tossed away their entire season. Bruce Arians replaced that turnover machine with the best to ever play the position. No, I don’t expect Tom Brady to light up the stat sheet but his intelligence and professionalism, paired with Arians’ strategic acumen, will be exactly what this franchise needs.

Also, Tampa’s defense was top half of the league statistically and fifth in takeaways last year. That’s the hallmark of a Todd Bowles defense. They don’t have enough talent to be dominant on that side of the ball but they have the right mentality. The offense will drive Tampa. But the defense will do what they need to do.

Kansas City. Tampa Bay.

Reid. Arians.

Mahomes. Brady.

Your Super Bowl 55 prediction.

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DBB’s Staff Predicts the 2020 Bears Season

| September 9th, 2020

It has been the strangest off-season in the history of the NFL. Now, the folks around here attempt to predict how the regular season will go. And there’s plenty of reason for optimism.


10-6, Playoff Berth.

This should continue to be one of the best defenses in the league, and the offense should be better than last year, but QB issues still limit their ceiling, and I’ll be surprised if the offense finishes better than around 20th in the NFL.

I’m also seriously concerned about the lack of depth at a number of key spots, including offensive line, edge rusher, inside linebacker, and cornerback.

Still, there’s enough talent on this roster that I have a hard time seeing them fall much below .500.

I’m certainly planning on enjoying this year as much as I can, because I think this is likely their best team until at least 2023.


9-7, Wild Card Loss.

This season could go very wrong or it could go very right, why not split the difference?

There is a world in which the quarterback play is just good enough. Trubisky has learned to read defenses and has made enough fundamental improvements to hit the open receivers. Or Nick Foles comes in and plays like he did for the Eagles.

They have talent around the quarterback and will unquestionably be improved at right guard and tight end. If the rest of the offensive line can play like it did in 2018 and the zone blocking scheme clicks, the running game could be explosive.

Defensively, they have arguably more talent than they did in 2018 when they were the best unit in the league. At the very least, they’ll be able to chase quarterbacks and that should lead to a ton of takeaways.

They can ride their defense to the playoffs and hope one of the quarterbacks gets hot like we have seen many times before.

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NFL Season Preview: Parlaying Every Division Winner, Volume II

| September 8th, 2020


We now take on the second half of the league.


  • The AFC North – like seemingly every year – is Baltimore v. Pittsburgh. The Ohio teams seem even more useless this season.
  • Here’s my breakdown of the AFC East. I think Buffalo should be a more significant favorite. I think the Jets are actually a bit undervalued. I think I have no idea what New England is going to be since half their roster opted out and they don’t know who their quarterback is going to be Week 2. I think Miami is exceedingly well-coached but how much FitzMagic can they muster again? I’m going to bet on the Bills.
  • AFC North parlays: 7 Ravens, 3 Steelers.
  • AFC North parlays: 6 Bills, 2 Patriots, 1 Dolphins, 1 Jets.

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NFL Season Preview: Parlaying Every Division Winner, Volume I

| September 7th, 2020

There are plenty of ways to full-season gamble on the NFL. Fantasy football. Over/unders. Player props. (Somewhere I have a Trubisky 2019 MVP ticket from Borgata in Atlantic City.) But last year, some friends and I began experimenting with a new one: parlaying every division winner. A $5 parlay on all the favorites winning their respective divisions will pay north of $1500. If you start working in some underdogs you can be looking at a payout between $3500-4000. They’re not easy bets to hit but they’re fun bets to follow.

It’s also an interesting way to present a de facto NFL preview. (I just took screenshots of the odds from the DraftKings Sportsbook app, so there’s no rhyme or reason to the order which they’ll be presented.) Here’s part one.


  • I think the NFC West is a place to experiment because I think all four of those clubs could win that division, with Arizona the longest of the shots. How is Sean McVay going to respond to his first real dose of adversity in the league? How is Seattle going to perform as they’re set to lose their greatest strength, the league’s best home field advantage? The Niners better be successful on the ground because they have one of the more underwhelming collections of receivers in the league.
  • The Chiefs are the biggest divisional favorite in the league and they should be. Will one of my ten parlays maybe throw the Broncos into the mix? Maybe. But I don’t even think a significant injury to Mahomes would be enough to knock them out of the top spot. That’s not confidence in Chad Henne or Matt Moore but more confidence in Andy Reid to find a way.
  • Out of ten parlays, I’ll have the Niners in 4, Seahawks in 4 and Rams in 2.
  • Out of ten parlays, I’ll have the Chiefs in 9 and Broncos in 1.

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