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Week Two Game Preview, Volume I: How the Bears Beat the Bengals

| September 16th, 2021


Two things to note before proceeding here.

(1) This analysis is based on film from one game – the Bengals opener with the Vikings. There is no way to know if the approach and tendencies displayed in that game are prescriptive for the entire season or matchup-specific. It is probably best to assume a bit of both.

(2) This column is not a fantasia. This is not “How the Bears Beat the Bengals if the Bears Had a Different Roster”. The Bears can’t cover the Bengals outside. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are – with Tampa, Dallas and Pittsburgh – among the best wide receiver groups in the sport and the Bears have one corner.

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VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)

52.5%

This game is a relative toss-up, but the Bengals have a slight advantage.

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What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

  • Involve David Montgomery in the passing game. The Bengals play an aggressive style of defense, often sending more at the quarterback than a standard front four. (And after studying Bears/Rams, they’ll certainly be doing so on early downs to keep Montgomery and the rush attack in check.) If the Bears want to soften that attack, they’ll need to get Montgomery out in space and get the football in his hands, well-beyond his one-catch, ten-yard effort Sunday night.
  • Play action and boots created a TON of space outside the pocket for Kirk Cousins. (If Justin Fields were the starting quarterback, he’d be looking at 75-100 yards on the ground.) The Bears have to move the pocket for Andy Dalton if they want to stretch the field with the passing game. If they keep Dalton in the pocket, this passing attack will be as dinky and dunky as the opener.
    • It should be noted that this space was reduced greatly once the Vikings fell down 24-14. When you’re down double digits in the fourth quarter, defenses attack the quarterback, not the running back.
  • What does Bears/Rams look like if Dalton doesn’t throw the pick in the end zone? It might not have a dramatically impacted the outcome but it certainly would have given the offense a different confidence on subsequent drives. The Vikings lost to the Bengals in overtime for one reason: Dalvin Cook fumbled the football in Cincy territory. When teams are evenly matched – and these teams are – one crucial turnover can be, and usually is, the difference. The Bears can’t commit that turnover.

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What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

  • Manufacture pressure. Bring linebackers. Bring corners. Bring safeties. The front four is not good enough to wreck the game on their own and without significant pressure on Joe Burrow, the Bears secondary will be watching footballs get spiked in the end zone. (The argument against this approach is usually that it leaves corners vulnerable but Chicago’s corners are naturally vulnerable due to their lack of ability.) The Bears don’t have the horses on defense to line up and beat their opponent. They need a schematic advantage. Sean Desai has to bring that advantage Sunday.

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Bears Must Acknowledge What They Are: Bad.

| September 13th, 2021


Justin Fields should be the starting quarterback Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Not because of anything Andy Dalton did Sunday night. Dalton was Dalton. He dinked. He dunked. He took no chances. He made several mistakes.

No, Justin Fields should start Sunday because the Bears must look at what transpired in Los Angeles and recognize where they are as a franchise. They’re a bad team. They don’t have top-tier weapons on offense. They don’t have a professional secondary. They don’t have an elite coaching staff. The ceiling for this group is mediocre and the more likely outcome is bottom third of the league.

The focus of this organization must shift from the futile endeavor winning games in 2021 to doing everything possible to get Fields ready for 2022. Every day that shift is delayed is wasted time.

Is this difficult for a franchise to do? Yes. Teams delude themselves to sleep each night with visions of the Lombardi Trophy dancing in their brains. But is it necessary for the Bears to do? Absolutely.

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Data Responds: Bears at Bengals

| December 10th, 2017

Is this real life?

The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball, scored 30 points for the first time in over two years, and generally rolled over the dormant Cincinnati Bengals.

I know Cincinnati is bad and banged up, but so are the Bears, and this was a lot of fun. More importantly, this as led largely by young players for the Bears, which bodes well for the future. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Offense

  • The Bears came out and threw it on their first 2 plays! The first resulted in an awful Jordan Howard drop (drink), while the second was a beautiful play action rollout to Josh Bellamy for a 1st down. This unsurprisingly caught the Bengals’ defense off guard, and they backed off the defense into standard 7 man boxes instead of loading 8-9 up. As a result, the Bears ran it the next two plays for about 40 yards and a touchdown. That marked the first time this season that the offense scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game.
  • Before I get too down on Howard, how about giving it up for a great game from Chicago’s stud running back? He had his 12th 100 yard rushing game in 26 career starts and passed the 1,000 yard mark for the 2nd year in a row, making him the first running back in Chicago history to start his career that way. That’s pretty remarkable when you think of the great running backs who have played in Chicago.

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks for Week 3

| September 24th, 2015

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Made some overreacting mistakes to the first week of the season, especially in the Rams/Redskins game. Still can’t believe the Rams team that played the Redskins Sunday was the same that beat Seattle to open the year. Lines can be found here.

BALTIMORE -3 OVER CINCINNATI

Here’s the logic: I don’t believe the Ravens are an 0-3 team. And I think they (much like the Seahawks) will be refreshed by playing their first home game and deliver a big effort.  Ravens 30, Bengals 24.

Chicago at Seattle: TOTAL POINTS OVER 43.5

The Bears are going to have trouble scoring points with Jimmy Clausen starting at quarterback but I don’t think that means they’ll be shutout by a defense that has struggled mightily coming out of the 2015 gates. And the Seahawks would be disappointed finishing this game with less than 28 points. I say the game goes over. Seahawks 31, Bears 20

Tennessee Titans Total Points Over 21 vs. Indy

I have been unabashed in my hatred of the way Colts GM Ryan Grigson has built this roster around Andrew Luck. In lieu of offensive linemen or defenders, Grigson has stockpiled aged skill players the team doesn’t need. Luck will probably throw another pick or two and Marcus Mariota should be able to gauge the Colts for large chunks of yardage on the ground. Colts 34, Titans 30.

Season Record: 2-3-1 (-$140)

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Wild Card Weekend Game Previews & Predictions

| January 3rd, 2014

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All point spreads provided below were listed on BETUS.com as of Wednesday afternoon.

Saturday 4:35 PM ET – Kansas City at Indianapolis

Line: Indianapolis -2.5

Analysis: I’m going with a three-pronged approach to this.

  1. Andy Reid is always a little dicey when it comes to the postseason. All of a sudden how he controls the game/manages the clock becomes far more important and Reid is notoriously terrible at both of those things.
  2. Since losing 42-28 on the road to the Bengal the Colts have thrashed the Texans, Chiefs and Jaguars. Yes I know two of those three are not the most impressive opponents and KC had nothing to play for in December but I like seeing teams dominate teams they should dominate.
  3. Aren’t we due for an Andrew Luck, national spotlight, coming out party? While all the talk has been about Bob Griffin drama and Kaepernick struggling for ten weeks, Luck has quietly just gone about winning games. I think he’s going to have a big afternoon.

Final Score: Indianapolis 30, Kansas City 23

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