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Speculation Station: Who Will Rise? Who Will Fall? Who Could be a Dark Horse Contender?

| March 5th, 2018

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:

Two Teams Primed to Improve

Chicago Bears

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:

  • A talented young QB who has the potential to make a significant leap from Year 1 to Year 2.
  • A new energetic head coach and a high quality support staff bound to inject energy into the locker room.
  • A good amount of cap space so Pace can target quality players that can do things like “run routes” and “catch the ball”.
  • Prestige and history that comes with playing for a franchise as distinguished as the Bears makes Chicago a very attractive location for top free agents.

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Divisional Round Game Predictions

| January 12th, 2018

Went 2-2 ATS last week and would have been 3-1 if I’d remembered never to lay 9 points on an Andy Reid-coached team under any circumstances. Still, 2-2 is a good start. Need a 3-1 week to keep the dream of topping 7-4 alive. I’m confident.

All spreads from BETUS, Thursday evening.


Atlanta at Philadelphia

Saturday – 3:20 pm CT

Pick: Falcons -3

This is the hardest game to analyze on the weekend because it’s impossible to know what to expect from Nick Foles. But if the Falcons defense plays as fast and angry as it did against the Rams, how could anyone expect Foles to get anything done through the air? A few interceptions are likely as the Falcons continue their journey to Super Bowl redemption…maybe. Falcons 20, Eagles 14.


Tennessee at New England

Saturday – 7:15 pm CT

Pick: Patriots -13

This Titans crap has gone on long enough. Patriots 27, Titans 10.


Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

Sunday – 12:05 pm CT

Pick: Steelers -7

Here’s my hot take for the column: the Jaguars defense is overrated. Jimmy G tore them to ribbons on Christmas Eve. Since then they’ve faced the offensive juggernauts of Tennessee and Buffalo and could easily have lost to both. (Tyrod Taylor had plenty of opportunities.)

I can’t imagine a scenario where Ben Roethlisberger repeats his mid-season “maybe I don’t have it anymore” nightmare. I can imagine a scenario where Chad Henne finds his way onto the field to replace Blake Bortles. Steelers 30, Jags 10


New Orleans at Minnesota

Sunday – 3:40 pm CT

Pick: Saints +5

Last week I didn’t trust Goff. This week I don’t trust Keenum. Both had wonderful regular season but the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Every single throw carries the weight of the entire season. Is Keenum ready for that pressure?

New Orleans has the corners to limit what the Vikings receivers can do outside, allowing their front to harass the Minnesota signal caller into mistakes. Then the game falls on the arm of Drew Brees and, well, he’s just fine with that. Saints 20, Vikings 17

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Bears Beat Steelers Without The Use of A Quarterback: Rapid Fire

| September 25th, 2017

The Bears won a game they had no business winning without the use of a quarterback. Their defense and rushing attack were so good they could have beaten any team in the league yesterday. Their quarterback? Non-existent. More thoughts:

  • There’s never been a play in league history like Marcus Cooper’s failure to complete a return touchdown at the end of the half. He wasn’t showing off. He wasn’t celebrating. He just…stopped. Cooper claiming he thought he was in the end zone is insane. Just keep running. Why would a player EVER stop until he’s through the back of the end zone? This had the potential to join Marion Barber running out of bounds and staring at a Rodgers fumbled football as one of the worst modern Bears moments. But they won…
  • I can’t remember a game where the Bears ran the ball like they did yesterday. The Steelers knew the run was coming and the Bears didn’t care. Right down their throat over and over, including an overtime win without a pass thrown. That’s historic stuff. 6 yards a carry for Howard. 6.5 yards a carry for Cohen.
  • And if this ends up being a memorable Bears season, we should all remember Jordan Howard leaving everything on the field yesterday. With his shoulder deteriorating by the second, Howard refused to be sidelines. It was movie plot stuff.
  • Mike Glennon is a terrible football player. What’s most frustrating is that he occasionally shows he’s capable of throwing the ball down the field. He just refuses, unabashedly, to do so. Take that back. What’s most frustrating is his complete inability to process what’s happening on the football field.

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Data Responds: Bears vs. Steelers

| September 24th, 2017

 

  • Bears win! It’s been so long I’ve forgotten what that looked like. Hell, I had forgotten what it looked like for them to have a lead, as this was the first game that happened at any point since the first half of week 15 last year.
  • Good teams find ways to win close games, and bad teams find ways to lose them. Despite trying their best to throw this one away with a litany of stupid plays, the Bears still found a way to win. Hopefully they can build off of this going forward.

Offense

  • We’ll start with the good and focus on all three running backs, starting with a monster day by sophomore Jordan Howard, who looked like his rookie self for the first time this year. He ran hard, was decisive, and finished runs with power. Holes were there better than they’ve been so far this year, but credit Howard for playing better as well to take advantage of it. Howard did have a 3rd quarter fumble (though on replay it looked like he was down) that let the Steelers back in the game, and he had to leave the game twice with his injured shoulder in the 2nd half. Still, he came back and finished the game in OT, and finished with 138 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Just for good measure, Howard also led the Bears with 26 receiving yards.
  • Tarik Cohen rebounded from a poor week 2 effort as well. He made a big play in the first half and a huge play in OT that jump-started the Bears’ offense and should have won the game (he was incorrectly ruled out of bounds, costing him a tochdown). His electricity showed up in limited touches (though 16 is still too many). Perhaps equally important, the Bears finally started using him properly. His small size means that he can’t sustain as many touches as he’s been getting, so this week they started using fakes to him to open things up for others. They ran him around on a fake reverse several times, and this helped open up the running game for Howard.
  • While we’re talking about running backs, Benny Cunningham was back from an ankle sprain today and made a few nice plays on 3rd down. Twice he caught checkdown passes way short of the sticks and turned them into a new set of downs for the Bears.
  • Now for the quarterback, which is a lot less fun to talk about: it’s been 3 weeks and 3 bad games for Mike Glennon, who completed 5 passes (none of them to wide receivers) on 8 pass attempts for 31 yards in the first half. Despite this incompetence, the Bears still held a ten point halftime lead; just imagine how good this team could be if their quarterback wasn’t completely terrible. It stunts their entire offense, from the play calling to the run game.

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| September 21st, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But that hourglass has been flipped.

When Trubisky?

There are three possibilities, as I see it, for the Mitch Trubisky era to begin in Chicago.

Possibility #1: Monday night, October 9th – Vikings at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon eats the hardest four-game stretch of the Bears schedule (and subsequent 0-4 record). The Bears would then have 11 days to prepare Trubisky for the Vikings and they’d be able to create an event atmosphere at Soldier Field that night.

Possibility #2: Sunday, November 12th – Packers at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon gets the entire first half of the Bears schedule. This would certainly require him playing better than he has through two games. Then Trubisky gets the bye week to prepare for a debut against the team’s oldest rival at Soldier Field. Would the fans get pumped up enough by his first start to fill the building? I think they might.

Possibility #3: Mid-game

I texted both of my league connections, both high-ranking personnel guys with other franchises, and asked how they felt about bringing in a rookie quarterback in the middle of the game. The two responses were “wouldn’t do it” and “fine with it”.

Here’s what I’ll say about the idea. I would not bring Trubisky into a blowout. You don’t want him on the field down three scores, having to drop back every play. But if the Bears are down 13-10 Sunday to Pittsburgh at the half and Glennon has looked like Glennon, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to bring Trubisky into the game.

Notes on the Pittsburgh Steelers

  • QBs faced through three weeks of the season: DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon. By comparison the Bears will have faced Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will more than likely start one of the most hollow 3-0’s in NFL history.
  • A player I knew nothing about who absolutely jumps off the screen is LB Anthony Chickillo. The former Hurricane is in his third season and has been all over the field through two games. How do the Steelers always manage to produce these f’n linebackers? Chickillo is also a terrific pass rusher and the Bears better be wary of his location at all times Sunday.
  • T.J. Watt has been something of revelation but exited the Vikings game with a groin injury the organization doesn’t believe to be serious. If Watt doesn’t play, it’s a huge bonus for the Bears. But will that mean James Harrison can actually get on the field for the Steelers this season?

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Championship Sunday Preview & Picks

| January 20th, 2017

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Administrative Note: The Weekend Show will return Super Bowl week and continue to run throughout the off-season. Our guests will not only be Bears-related but also branch out to other Chicago institutuions – bars, restaurants, culture, politics…etc. And we’ll do A LOT on the quarterbacks available in this draft.


Went 3-1 against the spread last week but only 2-2 picking winners. So I’m an alarmingly mediocre 4-4 ATS and 5-3 picking winners this postseason. Not good.

Packers +5 over FALCONS

Atlanta had the most impressive win of the division round. Took some body blows early from a proven contender and then did what this franchise has failed to do for what feels like a decade: knocked out an opponent. This is unquestionably the most exciting and dynamic offense left in the playoffs. But what I love about the construction of this roster is they are now equipped to hold a lead because of a young, exciting pass rush.

Will that matter against Aaron Rodgers? Nobody knows. Rodgers is now playing the quarterback position better than anyone in the history of the league. His receiving corps stinks. His running back is a slot receiver. He has a brilliant pass blocking offensive line but the rest of Ted Thompson’s team is the definition of mediocrity. Can Rodgers win this game? Of course he can. But I’m saying the magic runs out. Barely.

Falcons 41, Packers 38


Steelers +6 over PATRIOTS

I have no idea what to make of this game.

Houston’s defense was brilliant a week ago but were beaten by two things: (1) Weirdo Tom Brady moon balls his receivers managed to haul in and (2) their own quarterback throwing the ball to the other team. If the Patriots had either the Chiefs or Steelers on the other side of the field Saturday night, I don’t think they’re playing this week.

Kansas City should have beaten Pittsburgh but Andy Reid and Alex Smith executed an offensive game plan the league hasn’t seen since the invention of the forward pass. (Reid is quickly venturing into Schottenheimer territory.)

Here’s what I know. Le’Veon Bell is amazing, Bill Belichick knows that and agenda item number one for the Patriots will be stopping him. If they do, they win. If they don’t…?

Patriots 24, Steelers 21

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Wildcard Sunday Open Thread

| January 8th, 2017

Miami +10 over PITTSBURGH

28-13 Steelers late. Matt Moore brings the Dolphins down the field for a solid backdoor cover.

Steelers 28, Dolphins 20

New York +4.5 over GREEN BAY

Three reasons:

  • Green Bay’s win out has been wildly overrated. They are a few weeks removed from blowing a 17 point lead to Matt Barkley. Packers are here because the NFC North was an unmitigated disaster in 2016.
  • Not sure people realize how good this Giants secondary is. There’s not a pass catching threat on the Pack that will give them problems, as long as they don’t allow Rodgers to run around and buy time.
  • It’s the tournament. You’ve seen what Eli does in these games, right?

Giants 17, Packers 13

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