[Disclaimer: The following game preview is being written under the assumption that Khalil Mack will play Sunday. It is also being written under the assumption that he’ll be limited, to a degree, by his ankle injury.]
I always like the Chicago Bears…
…and I just like this game, hence yesterday’s flamboyant column. This should be the most intense, feverish crowd at Soldier Field in five plus years. And don’t be surprised if the Bears come out and match that intensity, eager to prove last week’s rollover in Miami was a fluke.
There once was a goody named Brady
Whose fitness guru seemed a bit shady
The coach tossed him out
Now Goody got gout
But at least he still has a rich lady
Twitter is not the avenue for nuance. Hopefully DBB can be. My thoughts on Martellus Bennett’s trade to New England:
Steelers +7 over Patriots
Line just feels too high for a week one match-up between two fairly decent teams. Patriots 24, Steelers 21.
Bills +3 over Colts
My favorite mismatch of the first week is the Bills defensive line against the Colts offensive line. Andrew Luck is in the conversation for best player in the sport but I continue to argue that his coach is mediocre and the roster construction around him is poor. Bills win outright. Bills 16, Colts 14.
Cowboys -6 over Giants
Historically, nobody has been wronger about a team as I have about the New York Giants. So my instincts you should me to ignore my instincts entirely and pick them to win the Super Bowl. But not with that defensive roster and not with the questions along their offensive front. Cowboys 27, Giants 20.
Season Record: 0-0
I hear a lot of Bears fans say, “I’m not even going to watch the Super Bowl for this reason or that reason or the other reason or a few different reasons than the other reason.” There’s a sadness to that sentiment. This is the Sunday wherein the sport’s history is written. What is past – regular season, wild card, divisional, title games – is merely prologue.
Fans of the thirty teams not represented in Glendale watch this game with dreams in their hearts. Everything a Bears should want from their club will be represented by the two teams battling this tonight. Every emotion a Bears fan should want to experience will be felt by one of the club’ fan bases well through the evening hours.
This is the Super Bowl.
It has to happen.
You can listen to any sports radio show in the country and hear hundreds of analysts breaking down the nuances of this wonderful Super Bowl match-up. (And it is a wonderful match-up.) But for me, the most amazing moments of Super Bowl XLIX will be after the game has been played. Because then, on the stage at midfield, commissioner Roger Goodell and NBC’s Dan Patrick will hand the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. Then those same gentlemen will hand the Super Bowl MVP trophy to Tom Brady.
It will be the glorious conclusion of all this deflation of football drama. And it will present the Kraft, Belichick, Brady trio the grandest stage in all of television to smugly address a suspect public and antagonistic media. Sports are always great theatre. No Super Bowl postgame scenario will have ever been more drama laden.
New England Patriots 24, Seattle Seahawks 16
I can’t get the images of the Seahawks v. Packers game out of my head. Seattle was awful for the entirety of regulation. No pressure. No passing game. Penalties galore. And after Green Bay had gifted them the lead late their “legendary” defense allowed Aaron Rodgers to walk down the field for the field goal. (Don’t legendary defenses NOT do that?) Two things I believe: (1) If Seattle had settled for a field goal in overtime they would have been beaten by Rodgers and (2) I believe the best team in the NFC is home right now. The Patriots don’t allow fake field goal touchdowns or onside kick recoveries. They are too well-coached for that.
It was infuriating to watch the Bears play the Dolphins a week ago. They lacked passion at Soldier Field that Sunday. They lacked guts. There is no more difficult experience for a sports fan than believing you – with a wing-sauce soaked beard and Guinness-foamed mustache – care more about the outcome of your team’s contest than the team itself. (This is the case far more often than fans know.)
There was nothing infuriating about yesterday’s embarrassment at Foxboro. It is impossible to be angry about a result so predictable. The Bears coaching staff was shown just how far they are from being able to compete mentally with the elite coaching staffs in the sport. The Bears players, especially their stars, were shown how stars are meant to perform on the grand stage of the NFL Sunday. The Bears general manager was forced to sit through another sixty minutes of his prized free agents, $15M of defensive end this season, donned their invisibility cloaks for the eighth consecutive week. Lamarr Houston removed his cloak just long enough to put the punctuation mark on this shambolic sentence.
The Bears right now are the most lethal combination in sports. They have star players not performing to their potential and a coaching staff unable to elevate the play of lesser talent. Calling them mediocre would be an insult to mediocrity.