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Super Bowl 55 Game Preview, Part II: Five Thoughts & Prediction

| February 5th, 2021


This might be the most interesting Super Bowl in many-a-moon. A lotta star power. Two jolly, red-faced head coaches. The point spread hasn’t moved off three points, so the game is expected to be tight. The total has fluctuated between 56 and 56.5, so the game is expected to be high-scoring. And if those two things happen, we’re looking at an exciting Sunday evening.

Five Thoughts

  • Something about this game reminds me of those classic Patriots/Giants Super Bowls. A high-powered offense on one side and a big-game quarterback/pass rush on the other. If the Bucs are going to beat Reid and Mahomes, they will need the same Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul that terrorized Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game. With Eric Fisher out, the Chiefs are exploitable along the offensive line.
  • Early in the season, the Chiefs were not particularly threatening down the field. They dinked and dunked opponents to death. Don’t be surprised if they compensate for their issues upfront by taking a similar approach against the Bucs, especially early in the game. That could mean a lot of quick tosses to Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Todd Bowles better have his boys in good tackling form.
  • Usually you can identify a special teams mismatch in these games but there isn’t one here. Both kickers are reliable. Both punters are effective but used sparingly. The Chiefs are narrowly better in the return games. When games are perceived to be this evenly-matched, it may not come down to which specials unit makes a play but instead which avoids the big mistake at a crucial moment.
  • Watch the weather forecast, especially if you’re planning to place any bets. There is predicted rain in Tampa Sunday but the belief now is that should be cleared out by the 6:30 PM ET kickoff. If it does rain, I tend to give an advantage to the quarterback who has seen everything and the steadier rush attack.
  • One can not underestimate the achievement of Mahomes winning his second title. Rodgers hasn’t gotten to a second title game. Brees never got to a second title game. Peyton Manning went along for the ride to get his second ring. Mahomes is four quarters away from football immortality. Will he recognize that?

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Week Five Game Preview: Bucs at Bears on Thursday Night Football

| October 7th, 2020


How much does a pirate pay for corn?

Buck an ear.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I think the offense will get better in the weeks to come. Do I think they’ll be at full stride tomorrow? No. But I think signs of progress will be evident, as they work towards getting the new quarterback up to speed.


On Brady’s Bucs…

As always, you can go look at the statistical rankings and draw your own conclusions on Tampa’s strengths and weaknesses. I watch the Short Cuts of all their games on Sunday Ticket and try to give you in-game insights.

  • Tom Brady’s approach isn’t particularly different than it was in New England. Every once in a while he’ll take a deep shot (Scotty Miller is his guy down there) but his bread is still buttered by the quick toss, intermediate stuff to tight ends and small white receivers and a diverse collection of screens. When Brady’s in rhythm, he’s unstoppable. When he’s pressured out of that rhythm, he’s been giving the defense opportunities to make plays on the football.
    • It could be a product of age, but Brady’s arm strength seems to come and go over the course of a game. He had no zip on the football early against LA. He was flinging it in the third quarter.
    • Mike Evans has become a possession receiver. And a good one.
    • The injury report will have a massive say in what this offense looks like tomorrow night. Most of the skill guys in Tampa are on their report.
  • Ronald Jones power runs are the tone-setters for this offense but Jones has been a real asset in the passing game lately. Will be an interesting test for Roquan Smith, coming off arguably his best game as a Bear.
  • Defense can be attacked vertically, especially on early downs. If the Bears think they can take the same approach they took Sunday and try to bully the Bucs on first downs with the run game, they’ll find themselves behind the chains all day long. (The Chargers had zero success with early-down runs.) When the Bears find themselves chasing down and distance, they need to expect Todd Bowles to bring pressure and attack that pressure with the screen game.
  • An element of the Bucs passing game that the Bears must be ready for is the tight end verticals. O.J. Howards is out for the season but don’t be surprised if that injury doesn’t increase Rob Gronkowski’s role in the game plan.

In Honor of the Buccaneers, My Five Favorite Big Screen Pirates

(5) Steve the Pirate, Dodgeball

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(4) Captain Hook, Hook

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(3) Pirate King, Pirates of Penzance 

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(2) Smee, Disney’s Peter Pan

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(1) Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears Host the Arizona Cardinals in Week Two

| September 18th, 2015

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The Game Poem

I entered this NFL season

Abounding with patience and reason

A week in the books

Da Bears dug in their hooks

I hope they weren’t only teasin’

A Not-So-Quick Thought

Sunday is a playoff game for the Chicago Bears – figuratively speaking.

The Bears, whether they want to admit moral victory or not, gave many of their fans hope for a 2015 campaign that began with the tiniest expectations in more than a decade. They had every opportunity to beat one of the best teams in the league. So why is a contest with the Cardinals in week two a “playoff” game?

  • The NFC is not particularly deep and the Cardinals will be a team in the mix for one of the six spots in the tournament. If the Bears pulled off a win Sunday, who is going to argue they can’t be playing meaningful games in the month of December?
  • Fans were pleasantly surprised Sunday but remain skeptical. If the Bears improve off Sunday’s performance you could see expectations rise around the city of Chicago very quickly. Fans want to believe. Will the Bears give them that opportunity?
  • The Bears are not going to win in Seattle in Week Three. And they are not recovering from an 0-3 start.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Emery Interview Tactics, Mills to Guard, Stats!

| November 5th, 2014

audibles

PHIL EMERY DID WHAT?

Bruce Arians is a cool guy, a terrific hat wearer and his personality would have been a perfect match for the city of Chicago. (Look at how “beer and a shot Maddon” was universally beloved by Chicago media Monday.) To assume, however, that his not being hired by Phil Emery was some kind of administrative debacle is second-guessing of the worst kind. Yes, Arians won Coach of the Year. But he won that award less because of his work and more because his head coach that season was sidelined due to intense cancer treatments and he was put in charge of Andrew Luck. You know who else is going to win a lot of games as a head coach of Andrew Luck? Every single head coach with the luxury of having Andrew Luck as his quarterback.

Bruce Arians would not be any guarantee to make Cutler and this offense better. And his defensive coordinator of choice, Todd Bowles, would be no more successful with this absence of defensive talent.

Less his final decision, Emery’s approach to hiring the head coach has come under scrutiny recently and seems to have been something of a masterclass in weirdness. Think that’s too harsh? Let’s look at the two major elements revealed in various reports:

  • Arians was asked to do a mock press conference less than a month removed from doing multiple press conferences almost every single week of the 2012 season. I can understand a general manager wanting to evaluate the media savvy of a potential big market head coach but it wouldn’t take longer than nineteen seconds with Arians to understand he’d be just fine.
  • Arians is quoted as stating it was “awkward” being told he’d need to keep certain assistant coaches (including Rod Marinelli, who didn’t stay) and said in no uncertain terms it was not going to happen. Why would Emery insist on a head coach keeping a defensive coordinator who had yet to commit to the organization for the following season? Maybe before telling Bruce that Rod would be his defensive coordinator he should have asked Rod? The whole thing is, just, weird.

Also, was Marc Trestman so desperate to be an NFL head coach he would have accepted any terms? Does a man so desperate for his shot have it in his system to take over the leadership of a locker room?

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