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.
It is nice to have such thoughts in December.
It’s been a long time. A long, long time. In 2013 the Bears had a chance to make the playoffs over the final month but they were 6-6 at this stage and a definitive mediocrity. Per Football Outsiders, the Bears have an 85.1% chance to win the NFC North and a 96.3% chance of making the postseason. This is the kind of piece I’ve wanted to write for a long, long, long time.
Bears (8-4) are home to the Rams and Packers, followed by at Niners and Vikings.
Vikings (6-5-1) are at Seahawks, home to the Dolphins, at Lions, home to the Bears.
*Note: If the Bears are competing for a wildcard spot, one must assume the Vikings have won the NFC North. So we can leave them out of this equation.*
The offense is a work-in-progress. The defense is the most exciting unit the Bears have fielded since 2006. The Bears evened their season record at 1-1 and quieted some of their Week One demons. Here’s a rapid fire recap of Monday night’s events.
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— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2018
RIP me pic.twitter.com/z8QzbsrZ0T
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) September 18, 2018
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The Bears host the Seattle Seahawks tonight and, since I’m DBB’s resident Pacific Northwest dweller, who better to share some last minute pregame thoughts? So here it goes:
I’m still stinging from last week’s loss (and you probably are, too) but let’s hope the Bears have moved on…
There’s no way to get around it: Last week hurt. No team should blow a 20-point lead, even if they’re facing one of the greatest QBs of all time. It was a missed opportunity to start the season with a statement win, but in the end Green Bay just found a different way to break our collective hearts. That being said, Week One needs to be the last thing on the Bears’ mind when they run out onto Soldier Field tonight. I’ve mentioned my love of tennis and Roger Federer before, and one of the things that makes him great is his fantastic ability to erase painful losses from his memory. He learns, but he doesn’t dwell. Let’s hope the Bears take the same approach.
The last time the Bears played the Seahawks was 2015 in Seattle. It was the 3rd game of John Fox’s tenure, and Jimmy Clausen was starting in place of an injured Jay Cutler. The Bears lost 26-0. (I don’t care enough to check, but I’m pretty sure the Bears only managed one first down the entire game.) I watched with a handful of Seahawks fans, and honestly it was so pathetic they couldn’t even muster the energy to make fun of me. Regardless of how disappointing last week’s loss was, it doesn’t hurt to remember that things used to be much, much worse.
This game feels about as “must win” for the Bears as any Week 2 game could…
The Bears have the more talented roster going into tonight’s game, and that was true even before Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, and KJ Wright were declared out, with several other key Seahawks players listed as doubtful. If the Bears can’t manage a win at home against a rebuilding and busted up Seattle team, then we might be in for a much rougher season than any of us were expecting.
The Bears had no business losing to the Packers Sunday night. The team knows it. Their fans know it. Hell, even the folks in Green Bay would admit it if you asked them. It required a perfect storm of fine play (Rodgers) and horrible mistakes (Bears). That storm came. And it bloweth the club from Chicago to an 0-1 record to start their 2018 campaign.
Now they must rebound. Mitch Trubisky must rebound from the shaky mess that was his late-game performance. Kyle Fuller must rebound from dropping an interception that would have (a) been the easiest of his career and (b) won the football game. Matt Nagy must rebound from some head-scratching decisions on the sideline. (Those decisions have led to the coach receiving his first dose of criticism in Chicago.)
Next up is a “rebuilding” Seattle at Soldier Field. Followed by a road trip to a bad Arizona team – where half the building will be Chicago transplants – and a home affair with Ryan Fitzmagic. If the Bears finish the first quarter of their season at 2-2 there will be little conversation about the opening night collapse at Lambeau. If they finish the first quarter 3-1, the opener will be little more than an aberration, an isolated storm cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky. For those of you thinking this is a “pie in the sky” approach, you should take note the Bears will likely be favored in all three of these games.
Adversity defines character. And while a team would prefer not facing much of it over the course of their season, it is inevitable. Injuries. Bad penalties. Missed chip shots. Blown leads. These things happen. The Bears blew a game against their oldest rival on the national stage of Sunday Night Football. It sucked. But it’s also presented them with an opportunity to prove their mettle. To show one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports this is not “the same old Bears”.
That starts Monday night. Against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Nagy Bears have an opportunity to change the conversation. But only one thing achieves that goal: winning.
All right, Bears fans. We’re still a couple weeks out from the official start of free agency, and while a few noteworthy cuts, extensions, trades and franchise tags have all taken place we’re still pretty much just…. waiting.
I’m not a data wizard like John, nor covering a lot of breaking Bears news like Andrew, so I’m diving headfirst into the deep, consequence-free waters of speculation. Think of this article more like a conversation between two drinking buddies at the bar. Open a beer while you read if it helps, and come join me! The waters are warm and not to be taken too seriously.
This week we’re talking about expectations. More specifically, two teams I think will exceed expectations in 2018, and two I think are heading towards disappointment. I also picked one (wild guess, complete dark horse, probably doesn’t stand a chance, but what the hell, it’s March?) team that I feel on a gut level might have a breakthrough year.
I tried to mostly steer clear of the super obvious (by that I mean I didn’t pick the Browns to still be terrible), and it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it, anyways) that moves made in free agency and the draft, along with the other 50 million variables that might change a course of a season, could greatly affect my views on these five teams come the start of the season.
For now these are my predictions:
I mean, this is DBB, guys. Obviously I’m going to include them. Most every fan has it in their hearts that *this year* is going to be *the year* their team gets awesome, right? The great news for Bears fans is this year we actually do have a lot to be excited about! Including:
The Picks For Today
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
Lions stink. And Devin Hester!
Seahawks 27, Lions 14