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Wildcard Weekend Gambling Guide!

| January 3rd, 2020

Four games. I’ll give you a bet for each. (All odds courtesy of DraftKing Sportsbook.)


Saturday 3:35 PM Central

Bills at Texans (-2.5)

Over/Under 44

My heart is all-in for the boys from 716 but Josh Allen, facing a good pass rush, on the road, terrifies me. Look for Allen to use his legs a bunch in this one but I still don’t see Buffalo producing enough offense. If this line were a point higher, I’d go the other way. Begrudging Bet: Houston -2.5. 


Saturday 7:15 PM Central

Titans at Patriots (-5)

Over/Under 44

Bill Belichick will go into this game with a one-track mind. If the Patriots stop Derrick Henry, they win. But Henry has quietly become the best back in football and New England struggles upfront against these bruising-type runners. I don’t know if Tennessee wins this game but I like them to keep it close. Bet: Tennessee +5.


Sunday 12:05 PM Central

Vikings at Saints (-8)

Over/Under 50

I thought the Saints were in the best team in football in 2017. They lost in the playoffs on a ridiculous play.

I thought the Saints were the best team in football in 2018. They lost in the playoffs on a ridiculous call.

I think the Saints are the best team in football in 2019. They’re not losing to Kirk Cousins. Bet: New Orleans -8.

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Trubisky is not the guy.

| December 16th, 2019


(This column first ran after the Saints game. There’s no point in rewriting it.)

If you want to spend this Monday criticizing the defensive performance over the last two weeks, go right ahead. But I’m not going to join you. Sure they have struggled getting off the field but the Bears have a collection of terrific defensive players and they’ll be just fine in the long run.

If you want to question the vision and direction of the head coach over your morning coffee, go right ahead. Matt Nagy’s play-calling has been suspect (at best) and the offense lacks any semblance of coherence. But Nagy’s going to get time to right this ship because unlike his most recent predecessors, he has a 12-4 division title on his resume.

If you want to discuss the fumbling or the blocked punts or whatever other mistakes are on your mind before lunch, feel free to do just that. Those things shouldn’t happen to championship-caliber clubs and championship-caliber is what was expected from the 2019 Chicago Bears.

But those things aren’t the story today.

The story was picked number two and wears number ten.

The story plays the most important position in professional sports.

The story is Mitch Trubisky.

And the story is over.

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Saints at Bears Game Preview, Volume II: Rest of the Football Stuff

| October 18th, 2019

[NOTE: I’m not writing about Mitch Trubisky in this preview because what is left to say? He needs to play well. That’s all.]


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I believe in this coach. I believe he’s a very good coach. And a very good coach understands what needs fixing, fixes it and beats Teddy Bridgewater in his own building.


Oh When the Saints…

  • Alvin Kamara is not healthy and it greatly limits the effectiveness of this offense because Teddy Bridgewater, while statistically fine, has been mostly in a managerial role outside of exploiting a useless Tampa secondary. When pressured, especially by Jacksonville, Bridgewater has looked eager to choose avoiding big mistakes over making big plays. That works against bad defenses. Against the decent ones lately (Jax, Dallas), the Saints have scored 12 and 13 points.
  • The Saints defense is very good. From Bobby Hebert in a WWL Radio piece: “This is winning football no matter who the quarterback is. Over the last three games, the defense is giving up an average of 13.3 points per game…They’re allowing an average of 71.3 rushing yards. And, in this day and age, for total offense, they’re giving up under 250 yards. That speaks volumes. They’re trending in the right direction at an unbelievable rate. It’s really amazing to me that they’ve shown they can win in all three phases.”
  • Deonte Harris is one of the best returners in the NFL. The Bears can’t let him flip the field and make things easier on Bridgewater and the offense.

Ditka’s is Closing (Tweets of the Week)

These are the transcribed Tweets of the legendary Jackson D, of the Q Brothers Collective. Check out his Twitter feed. It’s good.

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Saints at Bears Game Preview, Volume I: An Open Letter to Matt Nagy

| October 17th, 2019

Dear Mr. Head Coach,

Your offense sucks.

I know that’s an abrupt way to start a letter, and may discourage you from reading any further, but I’ve never been known for my subtlety. Your offense isn’t struggling. It isn’t sub-average. It just flat out sucks. It sucks in America. It sucks in England. It sucks. And being an offensive-minded head coach, that’s on you.

Your left tackle, a damn good player, looks like he belongs in the XFL.

Your most dynamic weapon, Tarik Cohen, has been useless for five weeks.

Your quarterbacks, both of them, look like they left their playbooks in the men’s toilet at Rossi’s.

But more than anything else, this entire offense

lacks coherence. If someone were to ask me right now, “What is the Bears offense” I would have no earthly idea how to answer. And I have the strange suspicion you’d stammer a bit as well.

You were brought to this organization to modernize the operation, specifically when it comes to moving the football. (Hell, we even co-authored a tee shirt proclaiming you’d do just that.) Pace and Fox built the all-world defense. You were the finishing touch on one of the most dramatic rebuilds in organization history. Year One was a massive success. You won 12 games. You won the NFC North. But the offense had very little to do with that.

Year Two was supposed to be the year the complete picture emerged. But through five games, the offense not only doesn’t look better than 2018…it looks significantly worse.

So, you know, fix it. Just fix the fucking thing. Get creative. Coach the players up. Make this unit better. You had the bye week to diagnose the ailments and this thing is quite diseased. Now load up the syringe with penicillin and jam it into your offense’s ass. No more excuses.

There are about 15 teams that can win the Super Bowl and you coach one of them. But that status currently exists despite the script you author each week. Fix it. Because while you’ve tried to absorb the blame for the struggles, you’ve yet to receive much criticism.

That won’t last much longer.

Sincerely,

Some Guy in Queens

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Friday Audibles: Response to Data, Aerobics Video, Title Game Picks & More!

| January 18th, 2019

Data Entries: A Response

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.

Sign Massie.


Kareem Hunt

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.


The Mannelly Award

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.

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On the Prospects of the Bears Making a Super Bowl Run.

| December 21st, 2018


I was sitting on a stool at The Copper Kettle, my local in Woodside, Queens, and a liquored up friend of mine, a mumbling Irishman known as “Mel” who loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, turned my way. “You know I think you’re going to the Super Bowl,” he said, referring to the Chicago Bears. He actually said, “Joe, binky broofer soul” but I got where his brain was going.

I did what I always do when that particular suggestion is made (and it’s happening more often these days). “We’ll see,” I said. It wasn’t a response out of modesty or fan humility. It wasn’t an attempt to avoid a jinx. In other words, it wasn’t bullshit. It was about altering expectations. That can take time.

I came into this season, especially after the acquisition of Khalil Mack, believing the Bears could weasel their way into the postseason if the quarterback and offense came along by midseason. After watching the Bears dismantle the Vikings from a Paris hotel room in the middle of the night, those expectations changed to a division title. The Bears were clearly the best team in the NFC North. They needed to finish the season atop the table. They did.

Now, with two weeks to go in the regular season, there are only a pair of teams in the NFC with better records than the Bears: the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. And I’m no longer convinced the Bears can’t beat both of them. In any building.

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Final Thoughts on the 2017 NFL Season

| February 12th, 2018

The season has been over more than a week so I thought I’d throw a bunch of thoughts on the entire league into one semi-coherent post.


(1) It was a bad season for the NFL and it all stems from mismanagement at the top. The fallout from injuries/head trauma, player protests, rules issues…etc. were manageable and fixable. But Roger Goodell once again showed himself to be the most flaccidly ineffective commissioner in the history of professional sports.


(2) The “catch rule” has been the mostly thoroughly debated issue in the NFL and the Super Bowl seemed to be a turning point for its legislation, with two touchdowns actually being ruled touchdowns. (This despite the utter confusion of the commentary box, where Michaels and Collinsworth acted like they were asked to call a three-day test cricket match on forty minutes notice.) Possession. Two feet down. That’s it. If you have possession of the ball and two feet on the ground, you have caught the ball. For the first time in a long time, it feels the NFL is headed back in that direction.


(3) Ryan Pace took over the GM job in Chicago prior to the 2014 season.

  • His first year? Low expectations.
  • His second year? Three quarterbacks played, one of whom was benched for C.J. Beathard in 2017 and another didn’t approach an active roster.
  • Year three featured the drafting a quarterback with the second pick and nobody should put win/loss expectation on a rookie quarterback.

Now we enter year four. Pace has his coach. Pace has his QB. And if the latter stays healthy, the Bears should be expected to win games in 2018.

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