This game starts fast. Both of these offensive coaching staffs thrive on the two weeks of preparation and script out the first 15-20 plays to perfection. Tom Brady does it with his trademark short passing game, exploiting the Rams underneath with a ton of James White. Jared Goff hits the Pats secondary over the top. Call it Brandin Cooks for a 54-yard TD. Three possessions. Three touchdowns.
Score: 14-7 Patriots
Things slow down. Both offenses try and get their running games established, to limited success. Goff makes the first major mistake as halftime approaches, tossing an interception to Stephon Gilmore, and setting up the Pats for an easy score and a comfortable half-time lead.
Score: 28-14 Patriots
The best bar in Atlanta.
Thought 1. The Rams need a steady & consistent interior pass rush
Nobody pressures Brady from the perimeter because no quarterback in the history of the league is more comfortable stepping up quickly in the pocket and delivering the short-range bullet to a wide open, usually-white receiver. If your game plan to defend him is reliant upon edge pressure and disguised coverages (*cough* Vic Fangio *cough*) Brady will dice you up like a sous-chef working a garlic bulb.
You must put defenders in his face. And few teams are better equipped to do so than Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and these Rams. This game has career-defining potential for Donald.
Thought 2. Where the hell is Todd Gurley?
A few months back, the player Bill Belichick would have completely removed from this game would have been Todd Gurley. “Eliminate Gurley and force Jared Goff to beat us” might have been his rallying cry. And it would have been the correct approach. The Bears showed the league that if you take away the Los Angeles rushing attack and pressure Goff, you control the game.
But Gurley seems to have eliminated himself, unless you believe the injury fairy tale spewing out of the City of Angels. C.J. Anderson has somehow become every bit the horse but Anderson does not have anywhere near the game-changing explosiveness of a man many considered the best offensive weapon in the sport in, like, October! If the Rams are going to win this game, Gurley can’t be riding the stationary bike on pivotal possessions.
Thought 3. Return Men
Three names will be involved.
For the Rams, JoJo Natson.
For the Pats, Cordarrelle Patterson and Julian Edelman.
All three are capable of conjuring the kind of game-altering play that decides which team is holding the Lombardi at the end of the evening. (And all three rank in the top ten at all the relevant return statistics.)
Who will it be? Watch out for Patterson. If Greg the Leg gives him an opportunity to give the Pats an easy six, he may just do it.
Today’s offering is not meant to advocate gambling. I do advocate gambling because it’s a shit ton of fun but that’s not the intention of this particular column. Today, I will be showing you how to spend a mere $100 to greatly increase your enjoyment of another Super Bowl featuring the New England Patriots.
$15 on the game being decided by exactly 3 points (+375)
The Pats used to play three and four-point Super Bowls exclusively and this doesn’t feel like a game that can go wildly in any direction. Plus you’re getting almost 4-1 odds on the bet so why not? It’s also far more fun to root for close games.
$25 on over 56.5 points (-110)
Always bet the Super Bowl over. Who the hell wants to root for teams not to score, especially when you don’t care about the result? This is the most fun bet to place for a Super Bowl party because even those who don’t know/care what’s happening on the field will be excited to know every single point scored helps them win a little cash.
[Side note: If you have access to a book, legal or otherwise, always incorporate everyone at your Super Bowl party in at least one bet TOGETHER.]
$20 on no field goals in the second quarter (+240)
I have almost no rationale for this bet other than (a) it’s silly and (b) I think these are two coaches who will understand the uselessness of field goals in a game like this.
$40 on a team scoring in the final 3:30 of the game (-170)
By the fourth quarter a lot of non-football fans are checked out on the game. So this is the bet to get them re-motivated to focus on the television set. And since the assumption on this game is that it’ll be high-scoring and close, how is the game going to remain scoreless over the final three and a half minutes? It’s not. The odds aren’t great here so you’ll have to lay out some cheese. (I’m betting way more than $40 on this.)
Data has done a tremendous job over the past two days breaking down the cap situation facing the Bears this off-season. But I disagree with some of his conclusions, primarily a single point.
The Bears had the best defense in the NFL in 2018 and exited the playoffs on Wildcard Weekend. There’s no doubt in my mind they can return to Wildcard Weekend without Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan on the roster. (The Eagles just made it a weekend further with Cre’von LeBlanc as their BEST corner.)
The immediate focus should be Bobby Massie. Is the right tackle one of the best in the league? Probably not. But he’s a very good starter and a solid veteran presence on the offensive line. Couple that with the great unknown beside him at right guard and it would seem pivotal for the Bears to not enter the 2019 season with the right side of their OL being a question mark. The offense has to make a jump in Year Two of Nagy. Continuity will be key.
The Hunt situation is a delicate one. So next week both Emily and I will be writing full-length columns on the prospects of the Bears bringing him to Chicago. I thought it was imperative to present a female perspective. But I also thought it was imperative to present an opinion with an historical, football-based context. We’ll do both.
We’ve had fun with Pat Mannelly over the years, specifically naming this column space after his crazy decision in that Packers. But he’s one of the best long snappers in NFL history and now he’s trying to pave the way for the next generation of specialists. It’s very, very cool.
It is finally here! Together with @TheChrisRubio and Kevin Gold of @longsnapcom, we present to you The Patrick Mannelly Award presented to the top collegiate Long Snapper! For more information, please go to https://t.co/6lCzCYekfv pic.twitter.com/xOz3WuViRp
— Patrick Mannelly (@PatrickMannelly) January 15, 2019
Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/Boston Herald
Not a particularly difficult game to diagnose. So here comes the diagnosis:
Mitch Trubisky enters Sunday’s game in Miami with a ton of momentum. He’s coming off the biggest game of his young career; a game that would be the biggest game of many-a-quarterback’s entire career. Now it’s time to build off of it and become consistent. That’s what we need to see in the next four games, all against the AFC East. And it is very possible that a month from now, Sunday night November 4th, the city of Chicago will know who Trubisky is going to be.
The young quarterback’s last performance was historic but the first three were anything but. The Bears need him to settle somewhere in the middle and prove he can succeed against good defenses. He’ll get that opportunity as he’ll now face four of them in consecutive weeks.
As I wrote last week, what Trubisky did to Tampa was not a fluke. The Bears found his comfort zone and he excelled. Now defenses have tape on that performance and are going to do everything they can to make him uncomfortable.
The bad quarterbacks fold under such situations.
The good ones manage them.
The great ones thrive.
Greetings, Bears fans! Happy to be back!
A lot has happened since I went on hiatus. Some free agency moves have been made, the draft is done, and guess what? I’m officially excited about football again!
Truly, I don’t know how anyone, besides those who thrive on constant negativity (or those aiming to write for the Tribune), could consider this offseason anything short of a huge success for Chicago. The only move Ryan Pace made that I even slightly disagreed with was not matching the Saints offer for Cam Meredith, but honestly letting him walk is small potatoes compared to all the great additions made in 2018.
Of course there’s still the potential for roster moves and shake-ups (and God forbid, serious injuries) between now and the start of the season. Still, we have a much clearer idea of who the Bears are and what they’re going to look like, and damn it if they aren’t looking pretty, pretty good.
I figured I’d put all this unbridled enthusiasm to good use by making my return to DBB to discuss the four games I’m most looking forward to in 2018:
All Urlacher…after the jump!