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Playoffs Aside, 2018 Regular Season Established Bears as NFC North’s Best Team

| December 31st, 2018


The 2018 Chicago Bears played six games against the NFC North this season. The same number they always play. But these six were different.

Yes, the Bears were 5-1, with a point differential of +44. Yes, they were 3-0 at home, with a point differential of +24. But it was more than the numbers that told the story of these Bears. It was how and when they handled each opponent. Let’s look at them.

  • Green Bay Game I set the tone for the entire season. The Bears left Lambeau on the opening Sunday night knowing they should have won, knowing Kyle Fuller should have caught the game-clinching interception, knowing they were the better team. Matt Nagy didn’t let that game bring his team down. He used it as inspiration. It worked.
  • Detroit Game I was a bloodbath. The 12-point victory didn’t represent how lopsided the ballgame was. But the result was still important because the Bears had been struggling with the Lions for the last several seasons. No longer.
  • Minnesota Game I was the biggest regular season game at Soldier Field in a decade. In primetime the Bears had to prove they were the favorite to win the division. And from a hotel room in Paris, in the middle of the night, I silently watched them do just that.

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The Diary of the Day of Our First Division Title in 8 Years

| December 17th, 2018

It was a wild day. Start to finish. Here’s what I went through.

SUNDAY – DECEMBER 16, 2018

4:15 AM. My uncle’s birthday party started at 10 AM Saturday, in an Asbury Park bar, so I was fast asleep by 9:30 PM. At 4:15 I was wide awake and hungover and then came to the realization that (a) it was Sunday and (b) the Bears would be playing the Packers for a division title in 11 hours. So now I was awake, hungover and tense.


5:15 AM. Reverend Dave was flying into JFK from Paris so I checked the tracker. He was on time. There’s a good and bad side of this. Good side is…he’s on time. Bad side is I have to see Dave now.


9:29 AM. I had to drive from Sea Girt, New Jersey to Queens. I drive my dead grandfather’s 2004 Chevy Cavalier. It has 197,000 miles on it. And it doesn’t handle particularly well in conditions. Not only did I make this drive in a downpour but the fog was so thick I couldn’t see ten yards in front of the car.

10 and 2. Whole way. Tense as hell. Packer tense. Driving tense. Lots of tense.


11:35 AM. The normally hour and half ride is now done, clocking in at over 2. Instead of going into my apartment to pet my cats I went into my local, took a dump, slammed a quick Miller Lite and ordered an Uber to Josie Woods.


Sometime Around Noon. I popped into the pizza joint next to Josies for a quick slice. Cab pulls up in front. I see Dave in the back. He’s got two of the largest suitcases I’ve ever seen. I can barely hold the slice because I’m still tense from the drive and worrying my senior citizen mobile would veer the fuck off the Verrazano Bridge.

I said hello to Dave.


12:35 PM. There were already more Bears fans at Josie Woods than the previous five weeks combined. New faces too. Amazing what happens when you win more than you lose.


12:56 PM. A long debate occurred as we tried to find what the city equivalent of Reverend Dave is. Our best comp: Trenton. Except Trenton has a good slogan. (“What Trenton Makes, the World Takes”) Noah suggested the shitty tourist trap town at the base of Machu Picchu. Probably he’s the bad parts of Warsaw.

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Bears 24, Packers 17: Rapid Fire Reaction to a Division-Clinching Victory

| December 17th, 2018


This was not a clean effort by the Chicago Bears. But just think about that. The Bears played sub-par ballgame and beat Aaron Rodgers to clinch the NFC North. This simply has not been possible for the last decade. More thoughts…

  • Mitch Trubisky was great. He was calm and smart under pressure, decisive and accurate with the medium-range passing game and also flashed a few moments of absolute brilliance, including the the left sideline/cross-body toss to Shaheen and the bullet to Bellamy over the middle. This might not have been his flashiest box score but it might have been his best performance of the season.
  • But I’m sure today someone will write that Trubisky can only go to his first read or that he struggles throwing to his left. Why? Because the Bears played Sunday at 1 PM and most national guys didn’t watch the game.
  • Aaron Rodgers did something yesterday I haven’t seen from a QB. Every time Khalil Mack got near him, he switched the ball to the opposite arm. Rodgers knew Mack was going to get him. He wasn’t going to let him get the ball. Smart stuff. (And I don’t know how to write about Mack anymore. He’s everything a superstar player is supposed to be.)
  • DBB will be sending Lou Malnati’s pizza to Jon Gruden today. Updates will be available on the blog over the next few days.
  • Tarik Cohen’s season: 88 carries, 405 yards (4.6 per) and 2 touchdowns. 68 catches, 710 yards, 5 touchdowns. And he’s also the best punt returner in the NFL. The Bear are not division champions without him.

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Aaron Rodgers, Soldier Field & An Opportunity To Become Champions

| December 12th, 2018

Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images


Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Chicago Bears. This is a fact that does not require statistical, analytical or anecdotal support. It’s as common knowledge a statement as Nazis are bad people, Roy Scheider was criminally underrated in the 1970s and a Saturday night on the Guinness makes my apartment smell decidedly worse Sunday morning.

I am not going to Google “Aaron Rodgers Record Chicago Bears”. I don’t want to molest my current football euphoria with a bunch of grabby statistics. Rodgers has dominated the Bears because since 2010, or for the bulk of Rodgers’ prime, he’s been one of the two best quarterbacks in the league and the Bears have been shit. Rodgers’ dominance is a fact. It’s just not particularly impressive.

Sunday, Rodgers will be a five or six-point underdog at Soldier Field. He brings in a mediocre team with mediocre players. But after beating a terrible Falcons team last week and watching every other sixth-seed contender in the conference lose, the Packers are still clinging to hope of playing in January and the laundry list of what they need to occur is not particularly outlandish.

First and foremost, they have to beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Something that has not been an issue in the past.

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Entering the Final Quarter, Bears Must Now Pay Off Start & Win Division

| December 3rd, 2018


Lovie Smith always broke the NFL season into quarters – four-game segments that provided enough data for a proper evaluation of performance. The Bears enter the fourth and final quarter of this 2018 campaign at 8-4, top of the NFC North table by a game and a half. Despite a disappointing (yet entertaining) showing in the Meadowlands this weekend, most of which can be laid at the feet of their overwhelmed backup quarterback, the Bears have a great season staring them directly in the eyes.

But this division was never going to be handed to them. Yes, the Minnesota Vikings struggle against the better opponents. Yes, the Green Bay Packers have hit rock bottom, losing at home to a DOA Cardinals team. Yes, the Detroit Lions are the Detroit Lions. The division has never felt more winnable than right now. But the Bears still have to go and do it. And over the next month, they will get that opportunity.

They get the Rams, the conference’s best team, Sunday night. They get their oldest rival the week after. They finish with their closest chaser, on the road in Minneapolis. (They also have a road trip to San Francisco in there but that game doesn’t really fit my narrative here.) How Matt Nagy’s Bears perform over these final four contests will define this season.

They have been everything we could ask over these first twelve games. Aggressive. Exciting. Interesting. They have been in every single game they’ve played. Some would argue getting to eight wins has already made this a successful year. But you won’t read that here. No, what these twelve games have proven – without question – is the Bears are the best team in the NFC North.

Now they have to prove it, do what it takes to hold off the Vikings, and host a playoff game in January. Anything less than that will lend an air of disappointment to what has been a profoundly wonderful experience.

The “same old Bears” would fade down the stretch and give a post-season press conference talking about “learning how to win” and “building a winner” and “coming back fired up and ready to win in 2019”. The Matt Nagy Bears have to be better than that.

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Bears Building Team That Could Take Control of NFC North

| May 18th, 2016

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked and hit by Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) in second half action. The Colts defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-27 on Sunday, October 7, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Sam Riche/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1129744

Since taking over before last offseason, Ryan Pace and John Fox have completely rebuilt the Bears defense and it should result in a team that contends for the NFC North in both the near and long term.

I don’t care what happened last year. The Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC North. They have the best coach, the best quarterback and – while they’re certainly declining – I’m not ready to proclaim the Vikings or any other team the new King of the North. But what the Bears did to the Packers on Thanksgiving wasn’t a fluke and now they’re building up their talent level to do it consistently. At the very least, with a good defense, they’ll give themselves a consistent chance.

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Around the North with Andrew Dannehy: Green Bay

| January 29th, 2016

GREEN BAY PACKERS

It’s going to take more than the return of Jordy Nelson to cure what ails the Packers.

The fact they played the Cardinals close led to a lot of confusion about what kind of team they were. But in their last four games, the Cards beat the Packers twice and were blown out by the Panthers and Seahawks. The Packers finished 5-7 and were a Hail Mary away from going 4-8. They were blown out by Denver, Carolina and Arizona. They just aren’t that good of a team and I’m not sure if they can recover.

Nelson was underrated. Now he’s teetering on being overrated. He’s 31 years old and coming off of a major knee injury. He’s good. He’s not Calvin Johnson.

The truth is this. Despite some miracles, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play very well.

We’ve all heard the rumors that Rodgers doesn’t like coach Mike McCarthy. He wasn’t happy when McCarthy took the playcalling over again, demoting his buddy Tom Clements and limiting his ability to audible. Rodgers took shots at McCarthy weekly and it was largely unnoticed.

But it isn’t just Rodgers who doesn’t seem to be getting along with his boss. It was reported a few weeks ago that McCarthy is “fed up” with General Manager Ted Thompson not going after free agents.

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Around the North with Andrew Dannehy: Minnesota

| January 28th, 2016

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The following is part two of a three part wrap-up of the division from DBB contributor Andrew Dannehy.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The common theme with the Vikings is they’re an up-and-coming team but that could be more perception than reality.

The Vikings remind me a lot of the team they had almost a decade ago when they won the NFC North with a 10-6 record. Adrian Peterson was great and their defense was really good, but they didn’t have a quarterback and without a quarterback it’s hard to see them staying on top for long.

The 2008 team upgraded with Brett Favre, which was enough to win them the NFC North again and make them Super Bowl contenders, but I don’t see such an upgrade available to them this time around and they don’t seem to know they have a problem.

Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t make a lot of crippling mistakes. But he also can’t consistently make plays down the field. Will he improve? It’s certainly not a guarantee. Coming out of the draft, he was billed as a “finished product” and didn’t make a noticeable improvement from his rookie season to his second year. If he’s Alex Smith, that’s fine. But quarterbacks like Alex Smith don’t win championships.  Moving indoors next year should help hide his arm limitations.

Bridgewater is not their only issue.

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