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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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Four Games To Look Forward to in 2018

| May 10th, 2018

Greetings, Bears fans! Happy to be back!

A lot has happened since I went on hiatus. Some free agency moves have been made, the draft is done, and guess what? I’m officially excited about football again!

Truly, I don’t know how anyone, besides those who thrive on constant negativity (or those aiming to write for the Tribune), could consider this offseason anything short of a huge success for Chicago. The only move Ryan Pace made that I even slightly disagreed with was not matching the Saints offer for Cam Meredith, but honestly letting him walk is small potatoes compared to all the great additions made in 2018.

Of course there’s still the potential for roster moves and shake-ups (and God forbid, serious injuries) between now and the start of the season. Still, we have a much clearer idea of who the Bears are and what they’re going to look like, and damn it if they aren’t looking pretty, pretty good.

I figured I’d put all this unbridled enthusiasm to good use by making my return to DBB to discuss the four games I’m most looking forward to in 2018:

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Championship Sunday Game Predictions

| January 19th, 2018

With ten seconds left in Vikings/Saints, I was staring down a 4-4 opening to these playoffs. Then it happened. Now I’m 3-4-1 and need to hit more than I miss over these final three games to end up in the black. Can I do it? Probably not. Because football done lost it’s damn mind.

One note on the end of Vikes/Saints: enough with the babying of pro athletes. Marcus Williams blew a playoff game. Often these playoff games are decided by a single moment, a single play, and in this case Williams committed one of the biggest gaffes in the history of the sport. For those saying “his career won’t be defined by this moment” I ask you this: how the hell do you know? Bill Buckner had one hell of a baseball career. What’s the most defining play of Tony Romo’s career? Williams is a safety. He’s not going to get too many opportunities to change this legacy. And the “Whiff Six” is his legacy.

On to the games…


Jacksonville at New England

Sunday – 2:05 pm CT

Pick: Patriots -9.5

  • Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett picked the Steelers apart last weekend with one of the most dynamic play-calling exhibitions you’ll see in a postseason game. This wasn’t a “we’ll line up and do what we do” performance. Blake Bortles may have only completed 14 passes but he utilized 9 different receivers. Tommy Bohanon had 5 catches all season long. So did Ben Koyack. The Jags have decided to use their entire roster this postseason. And it’s working. But did they empty the cupboard?
  • Frankly, enough with this Jags defense. They talk a ton and make some big plays but the last two actual quarterbacks they faced – Jimmy G. and Big Ben – totaled 711 passing yards and 86 points. Jags defense built a reputation this season picking on bad quarterbacks and an historically awful early-season performance from Roethlisberger. They’re facing the best that ever did it this weekend.
  • But Jacksonville does have one element on defense required to make Brady’s life difficult: pass rush. And they have a man in the front office who knows that better than any other individual who has confronted the Belichick/Brady dynasty. But if Jax doesn’t get to Brady, lights out.

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