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Week Five Game Preview, Volume I: How Bears Beat the Raiders

| October 7th, 2021


The Raiders are 3-1. But they’ve beaten two teams in overtime – including a bad Dolphins side – and the struggling Steelers. When they faced a good Chargers team, they were thoroughly outmatched. And with their next four opponents being the Bears, Broncos, Eagles and Giants, they could easily be 6-2 while not particularly good.

This is not a game the Bears should win. But it is certainly a game they can win.

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VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)

71.92%

Half of Chicago is currently in that weird Blackhawks bar at O’Hare, waiting for flights to Vegas. This will feel like a Bears home game and moves the meter a bit lower.

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What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

Stop the rush. That’s it. That’s the story.

The Raiders don’t have a premiere pass rusher, although one could argue Yannick Ngakoue can return to that form at any moment. But Maxx Crosby has had a brilliant first month and he’s well-complemented by Carl Nassib, Darius Philon and even the much-maligned Solomon Thomas. The Raiders have the bodies to exploit this weak Bears offensive line, especially on the edges.

But if that rush is neutralized, the secondary is beatable, mostly due to injury. (Their numbers are actually quite good, while their passing opponents have not been.) And with Justin Fields now the starting quarterback moving forward, expect the Bears to continue stretching the field. There will be mistakes; certainly an unnecessary sack or two; probably an avoidable interception; but the days of the dink and the dunk are behind us.

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What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

Rush. That’s it. That’s the story.

They have to hit Derek Carr and hit him often or he’s going to torch this secondary for 400+ yards. How do we know?

  • Per PFF (who provide terrific advanced stats and completely useless grades), these were Carr’s numbers prior to Monday night on passes 20+ yards downfield: 12 completions for 371 yards. Both of those numbers were best in the league. Carr was the AFC Offensive Player of September for a reason. He had a brilliant month.
  • What did Joey Bosa say about Carr after Monday night? “We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook. And you saw on (Covington’s) sack, he was pretty much curling into a ball before we even got back there. Great dude, great player…but we know once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down.”

If the Bears are going to win this game, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn have to shut him down. Because they can’t stop Ruggs, Renfrow and Waller on the backend.

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Chicago Bears Classic: RW, Kordell, Edinger Beat AFC Champion Raiders (2003)

| June 11th, 2021

2003 is one of those Bears seasons I barely remember. I watched every game at Josie Woods but most of them were through the haze of a hangover, with this being my first fall in NYC at 21 years old. The team wasn’t even particularly bad. They finished 7-9. But they just created very few memorable moments.

This game, with highlights provided by the great NFL Primetime, provides more of those fun elements that seemed to define the era.

  • Big plays from R.W. McQuarters! (A note on Twitter from Reverend Dave about this is what directed me to this game.)
  • Edinger making ANOTHER big kick.
  • Kordell Stewart showing just enough to make people think he could be the answer at quarterback.
  • Marty Booker. Oh, how I miss Marty Booker. (Booker’s game against the Bucs in 2001 is still the best game I’ve seen from a Bears wide receiver.)
  • Another Bear who had vacated my memory banks: Stanley Pritchett.

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Rapid Fire Reaction to a Disheartening Loss in London

| October 7th, 2019

It’s very hard to analyze a game from inside the building. You really have no idea what’s going on. But here are a few points:

  • The building was 80% Bears fans. And the lack of run defense took them entirely out of the game. Bears had zero push up front.
  • Charles Leno is officially a problem.
  • David Montgomery has to absorb contact almost immediately upon every touch. He’s in an impossible spot back there.
  • Chase Daniel processes the field in slow motion. The Bears has open receivers all over the field but Daniel (a)took too long to identify them and (b) almost never put the ball in the right spot. If the backup is playing, the Bears aren’t winning.
  • Allen Robinson is a great player.
  • Anthony Miller is not. Yet.
  • Khalil Mack spends a lot of time on the sideline.
  • This was the first time in two years I’ve seen so many wide open receivers running through the Bears defense. Just an off day or did Jon Gruden figure something out?

3-2. One game back of Green Bay. In position to have a season but with A LOT of improvement needed. The bye week comes at a perfect time.

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Bears & Raiders in London Game Preview, Volume II: The Football Stuff (Mostly)

| October 4th, 2019

The George Inn. My favorite pub in London.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And they are not losing in London, with Reverend Dave and I in the building, all hopped up on bitter ale.


Trite, Boring Thoughts on the Raiders (Stolen From Data’s Twitter)

Data had a stream of Tweets early in the week but I fear they were lost in the Monday excitement. He is one of the best follows on Bears Twitter and I recommend you give him a follow. Here are his thoughts:

  • Derek Carr has been sacked only 8x in 4 games this year. 4th fastest time to throw of any NFL QB, 4th shortest average throw. This feels like a game where the Bears need Roquan Smith, not Nick Kwiatkoski. Gonna be a lot of underneath stuff in coverage.
  • In the running game, Oakland runs inside a little more than outside, so in that regard Kwit would fit right in plugging the interior run. When they do run outside, the Raiders heavily favor the right by a 2:1 ratio.
  • 2 of Oakland’s 3 most targeted players have among the 15 shortest average target distances among all NFL WRs and TEs. Waller is 4th shortest TE at 4.9 yards/target, and Renfrow 3rd shortest WR at 6.4 yards/target. Together they account for about 45% of all Carr targets in 2019.
  • Looking now to Oakland’s defense, this is a game the Bears should find success through the air. Raiders giving up 8.1 yards/attempt (23rd), with 9 TD and only 1 INT for a passer rating of 106.8 (25th).
  • Some of that is because Mahomes lit them up, but Flacco and Cousins both posted a passer rating >100 against them, and Brissett threw for 3 TDs. Their pass D is bad, in no small part because they can’t rush the passer (only 5 sacks through 4 games).
  • Oakland’s run D is actually pretty solid, coming in at 16th in rush yards/game and 11th in yards/carry.
    • Editor’s Note: Dalvin Cook rushed for 110 on only 16 carries against them.

Tweet of the Week (kinda)

I found this story incredibly moving.

Read More …

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Bears & Raiders in London Game Preview, Volume I: The Poem

| October 3rd, 2019

“London Snow”


She broke my heart,

in London,

in the lobby of the Bridewell Theatre.

It was snowing outside and

Brits do silly things in the snow.

Grown men in Savile Row slacks become

children on a Swindon schoolyard,

tossing snow balls and giggling,

and saying things like “jolly”.

She regretted that decision,

she would tell me later.

Maybe she was afraid.

Or maybe

it was just the snow.

 

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A Look at the QB Situations of the Potentially-Available Head Coaching Gigs

| December 22nd, 2017

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images (Edited)

The question I’ve been asked most since getting to Chicago: “Do you think Trubisky will be a positive when looking for a new coach?” My answer each time has been a definitive yes because I truly believe it will.

But I decided that, instead of leaning on my gut, to poll my two pals in the league on the question, factoring in all of the potentially-available gigs and their quarterback situation. I’ve grouped the teams into categories.

(I’ll be referring to my friends as AFC GUY & NFC GUY.)


Colts

They get their own category because think of the waters GM Chris Ballard has to navigate. When he’s looking to hire a coach in January he may not be able to tell the candidates whether Andrew Luck, their franchise quarterback, will require an additional surgery sidelining him six months or more. He won’t be able to tell the candidates if they have a franchise quarterback in 2018 or not.

NFC GUY: “Chris is going to have to sell that job. And every potential coach will want to know if they’re considering drafting a quarterback early.”


Bucs / Titans

These are two jobs that, should they come open, will come open with a quarterback in-place. But…do you want them?

  • Marcus Mariota has questions to answer regarding his play in 2017. Because he’s been awful. Said AFC GUY: “If he’s not hurt, he’s a problem.”

Read More …

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Wildcard Saturday Open Thread

| January 7th, 2017

The Picks For Today

Oakland +4 over HOUSTON

You’ve heard the stat all week. Connor Cook is the first quarterback to make his first start in the postseason. And he’s doing so against one of the league’s best defenses. The gambler in me is screaming, “TAKE THE TEXANS!”

But I’m not doing it. Because I don’t think Brock Osweiler is any good and this seems like the perfect stage for him to formally end his Houston career. Not saying the Raiders win the game. Saying they keep it close.

Texans 16, Raiders 13

SEATTLE -7.5 over Detroit

Lions stink. And Devin Hester!

Seahawks 27, Lions 14

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Eleven

| November 19th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 3.01.04 PM

I’m back…BOOM…back in the New York groove!

I’m back…BOOM…back in the New York groove!

Took three dogs and all three dogs won outright. That’s what you call a good week of gambling, much needed after the disaster known as Week Ten. This season it’s becoming increasingly difficult to figure out who plays football well and who doesn’t. But one thing is certain: the Giants are winning the Super Bowl.

OAKLAND -1.5 AT DETROIT

Crossroads game for the Raiders. They are in the thick of a playoff race in the AFC but coming off two tough losses to two good teams in Pittsburgh and Minnesota. The Lions are putrid. On a Sunday where the Packers couldn’t do anything right the Lions still gave them every chance imaginable to walk away with a victory. Could be nuts but I think Raiders win big.

DALLAS PICK EM AT MIAMI

Romo returneth. If the Cowboys don’t win Sunday, their season is over. Simple as that. The fact that their season is not over at 2-7 is borderline insane but that’s life in the NFC East.

SAN FRANCISCO +12.5 AT SEATTLE

Okay, so I continue to watch the Seahawks play football every week. And every week I continue to be like, “eh, there ain’t much there”. So why are they laying 12.5 points against anyone, anywhere? The 12th man? They don’t have too much impact when the first eleven are mediocre. I’ll take the points.

Season Record: 16-12-2

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