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Playoffs Aside, 2018 Regular Season Established Bears as NFC North’s Best Team

| December 31st, 2018


The 2018 Chicago Bears played six games against the NFC North this season. The same number they always play. But these six were different.

Yes, the Bears were 5-1, with a point differential of +44. Yes, they were 3-0 at home, with a point differential of +24. But it was more than the numbers that told the story of these Bears. It was how and when they handled each opponent. Let’s look at them.

  • Green Bay Game I set the tone for the entire season. The Bears left Lambeau on the opening Sunday night knowing they should have won, knowing Kyle Fuller should have caught the game-clinching interception, knowing they were the better team. Matt Nagy didn’t let that game bring his team down. He used it as inspiration. It worked.
  • Detroit Game I was a bloodbath. The 12-point victory didn’t represent how lopsided the ballgame was. But the result was still important because the Bears had been struggling with the Lions for the last several seasons. No longer.
  • Minnesota Game I was the biggest regular season game at Soldier Field in a decade. In primetime the Bears had to prove they were the favorite to win the division. And from a hotel room in Paris, in the middle of the night, I silently watched them do just that.

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12-4. (Reaction in Tweets)

| December 31st, 2018



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Friday Thought Dump: Bears Approach in Minneapolis, Year-End Awards & More

| December 28th, 2018

This is such a weird week. Traffic is down because nobody is around. The game will have little-to-no juice unless the Niners make a game of it in Los Angeles. And we’re on the precipice of getting to big boy football. January football. Playoff football. So this is a Friday thought dump.

  • I’ve gone back and forth on how Nagy should handle Sunday a million times but I’ve settled on The Olin Kreutz Approach. The Bears legend believes (a) the Niners are not beating the Rams under any circumstances and (b) subsequently the Bears should sit Mack, Hicks, Cohen and Robinson while playing everybody else for the first half. This takes the game seriously while protecting the club’s most important assets going into the postseason.
  • A logical question: what about the quarterback? I’d argue Trubisky would benefit from facing that defense on the road, even if it’s only for two quarters. If the Bears are going to be playing in February they will more than likely need to win a tough game (or two) on the road. Experiences like Sunday could benefit the young QB.
  • “But Jeff, why not wait and see how the Rams/Niners game plays out?” Again, fair question. And I don’t have an answer. The value of the two-seed can not be overstated. The two-seed means win one game at Soldier Field, where the Bears have been dominant, and you’re in the NFC title game.

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Week 17: NFC North Champions at Vikings Game Preview

| December 27th, 2018

Mike Zimmer. Badass.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…but I don’t love ’em this week. One team is home, playing for their postseason life. The other team has eleven wins and is playing for a bye if a ten-point favorite (the Rams) loses at home. Motivation matters. And I don’t think the Bears have much this week.


Tweet of the Week!

Special thanks to the folks at Lou Malnati’s for liking and following through on this DBB original concept. It’s a great company and a great pizza and I’m hoping to develop this relationship further in the years to come.


Thoughts on the Actual Game

  • One has to assume Matt Nagy learned a lot about how to attack this Vikings defense when the two teams played on November 18th. With the most likely scenario being them meeting at Soldier Field next week, why would Nagy roll out any of that this week? Yes, I know Nagy is an aggressive coach and play-caller but putting anything useful on tape for a potential playoff opponent seems reckless.
  • The Bears defense has received a lot of praise and rightfully so. But what they’ve done the last three games is absurd.
    • They held two of their last three opponents out of the end zone entirely.
    • They’re allowing 10.67 points per game over that span, nearly a touchdown less than the best scoring defense in the league (Baltimore).
    • The opposing QB rating over the last three games: 51.3.
    • Rushing yards per game: 62.33.
  • If you looked at only the score line from Vikings at Lions last week, you’d think Minnesota handled them with ease. They did not. Detroit dominated the first half but was forced to kick field goals. Then Cousins hit Rudolph for the easiest Hail Mary ever executed in NFL history, giving Minny a lead going into the half. If Bears play their starters and commit to the game, they’ll win.
  • I’ve often joked on Twitter that Kirk Cousins stinks. Well, he doesn’t stink. He’s a good quarterback. But that’s all he is. Good. And you don’t pay players that are just good $30 million dollars a year in a league with a hard cap. This goes especially for Minnesota – a team built to win on the defensive side of the ball. The Vikings weren’t a quarterback away from the championship last year. They got obliterated by Nick Foles and the Eagles passing attack in the NFC title game, a game they had no business being in.
  • Some folks have suggested avoiding Minnesota in the wildcard round. I’d welcome Kirk Cousins into Soldier Field on a cold Saturday evening with open arms. But there’s definitely a contingent inside Halas Hall that wants to send Minnesota home. Let’s see how influential they can be.

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Three Thoughts For the Final Two Weeks

| December 19th, 2018

It is nice to have such thoughts in December.

  • If Minnesota wins Sunday in Detroit and Seattle loses to Kansas City, the Vikings would jump to the 5th seed. In that case the Bears should ABSOLUTELY mail-in Week 17 and accept whomever (Seahawks, Redskins, Eagles) comes to Chicago on wildcard weekend. Of all those possible matchups, the best single unit is Minnesota’s defense. Let them beat the Cowboys and go rough up New Orleans.
  • Does anyone really believe the Rams will lose one of these final two games? Yes, the Bears broke them. Yes, Philadelphia took advantage of that breaking. But they go to a lifeless Arizona team this week and then HOST the Niners. They’ll be two touchdown favorites in both games. If Los Angeles plays as poorly as they did Sunday night, they’ll still win both of these games.
  • Is there a perception difference between 10 and 11 wins? I think so. And that’s why the Bears should be 100% committed to Sunday’s game in San Francisco even though the result most likely has zero meaning. Go out there Sunday, dominate an inferior opponent and bring the good vibes of a three-game win streak into the postseason.

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Thoughts on the NFC Playoff Picture With Four Games Remaining

| December 5th, 2018


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.


NFC NORTH

Where Things Stand

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.

Notes

  • Any analysis of the remaining schedule has to begin with a basic fact: the Vikings haven’t been good. To expect them now to win their final four games is a bit of a stretch. But their contest in Seattle Monday night will set the tone for the rest of their season. It’s not a “must win” when it comes to making the postseason but it may be when it comes to challenging for the NFC North, especially if the Bears beat the Rams Sunday night.
  • Bears are 5-1 at home and their five wins have been by 7, 38, 14, 12 and 5. They have been great at Soldier Field. If they finish the season 6-2 at home, splitting their next two games, they’ll only need a win in San Francisco to host a playoff game in January.

WILDCARD

Where Things Stand

*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.*

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ATM: Maybe the 2018 Chicago Bears are Not “A Year Away”

| November 27th, 2018

The excuses were there and would have been valid.

  • No team had played a game on less rest.
  • They started a backup QB who hadn’t played extensively in five years.
  • They were coming off one of their more emotional wins in recent memory.

But none of that mattered.


I started this season writing about how the Bears looked like the same old Bears and that’s because they did. Blowing a huge fourth quarter lead to the Packers on opening night was very on-brand.

But on Thanksgiving Day, the 2018 Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions despite all the excuses. In doing so, they proved they are a different team. Comparing this year’s Bears to versions of the team under Marc Trestman and John Fox is just ridiculous at this point. This was even a game the Lovie Smith Bears would’ve lost.

This team didn’t. They didn’t need excuses. They just went out and won. Somewhere along the line, the team changed. Somewhere they found their swagger and turned 2018 into something with the makings of a special season.

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The Bears Are For Real

| November 19th, 2018

Much of the focus for the 2018 Chicago Bears has centered around Mitch Trubisky and the offense, but the key to this season’s success is and has always been the defense.

Sunday night, outside of a couple late touchdowns, the Bears were absolutely dominant defensively. They should be. They have to be.

Despite a new, big money quarterback and a vastly improved offensive line, the Minnesota Vikings don’t have a great offense. They entered Sunday’s game about middle of the pack across the board and in the 20s in terms of yards and points per drive. (Good thing the Bears didn’t hire John DeFilippo.)

The Vikings do have a terrific defense. The Bears weren’t going to be able to put up 30 points. The Bears defense needed to win this game.

They did.

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