Rival Roundup: The Bears Are Good, But Must Be Better to Win the NFC North

| October 11th, 2019

We’re just over a quarter of the way through the 2019 season, and the bye week makes it the perfect time to assess where the Bears stand, both as an individual unit and in relation to the rest of the NFC North.


Green Bay Packers

Right now the Packers are the top team in the NFC North. They’re currently 4-1, and 2-0 in the division. Most likely they beat the Lions on Monday and become 3-0, which would be a boon to their playoff hopes. They also have the second easiest remaining schedule in the division.

Both the defense and run game have improved for the Packers, and much of the tension that hung in the air during the end of Mike McCarthy’s tenure seems to have dissipated under LaFleur (despite initial reports that he and Rodgers were clashing). Rodgers isn’t putting up his usual numbers quite yet, but as long as they’re winning, he seems perfectly content with that.

It’s early and a lot can still happen, but it’s quite possible that Week 15 in Green Bay could hold even more significance than usual in the Bears-Packers storied rivalry.

Detroit Lions

The thing about the Lions is, they’re actually kind of good. They’re also still the Lions.

They could very easily be 4-0 right now instead of 2-1-1. They blew a significant fourth quarter lead against the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener that ended in a tie, and they kept pace with Mahomes and the Chiefs right up until the very end of their Week 4 matchup.

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Bears Dismantle Vikings, Prove Themselves Title Contenders

| September 30th, 2019

Normally this space, at this time, features what I call “rapid fire”. Because I insist on having new content by the time Chicago wakes up, which I arbitrarily deem to take place at 5 AM CT, “rapid fire” lets me pile a bunch of random thoughts, with absolutely zero structure, onto the blog. I don’t promote it on Twitter. I’m not particularly proud of it. It’s basically twelve or thirteen bullet-pointed Tweets. It’s not filler. But it’s close.

Yesterday’s performance by the Chicago Bears requires more than a mailed-in Monday. Because yesterday’s performance by the Chicago Bears was about a championship caliber team delivering a championship caliber performance in the face of adversity. Their defensive battery – Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith – were not on the field. Their young quarterback was out for the game (and seemingly far longer) before most of the Soldier Field faithful got to their seats. They had every excuse Sunday to lose. And instead they did what we have come to expect in this new Matt Nagy era: they dominated their opponent.

It’d be easy to write about Khalil Mack today. He’s the most explosive defensive player in a Bears uniform in my lifetime. (Did the Raiders trade him to the Bears…on purpose?)

It’d be even easier to write about the The Two Nicks, Williams and Kwiatkoski. These supposed depth pieces looked like All Pros.

It’d be even easier than that to write about Chase Daniel, a journeyman backup many fans wanted cut this summer because he failed to develop rapport with Tanner Gentry in fake games. Yesterday he recorded a 101.4 passer rating against one of the league’s best defenses. (And yes, this was slightly higher than Aaron Rodgers fared a few weeks back.) Did he have to do much? No. Did he do exactly enough? Yes.

[Check out Peter King’s excellent post-game conversation with Daniel HERE.]

Many thought the Minnesota Vikings would win yesterday and assert themselves in the NFC North. Even those who picked the Bears had a difficult time seeing the contest as anything but a tight one. There were five individuals picking this game in the Sun-Times sports section. Three had the game 13-10. One had the game 15-12. One had a shootout at 21-20. Five picks with an average differential of 2.6 points.

The game was decided by ten and it didn’t feel anywhere near that close.

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Vikings at Bears Game Preview, Volume II: The Football Stuff (Mostly)

| September 27th, 2019

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And they can’t drop two home division games and expect to win the NFC North.

Trite, Boring Thoughts on the Vikings

  • Dalvin Cook has been the best running back in the sport through three weeks, averaging a staggering 6.6 yards per attempt on 66 carries. Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison have built Minnesota’s offense around the run game and subsequently taken the pressure off Kirk Cousins. They are a team built to play with the lead.
    • But the Bears are allowing 68.7 yards a game on the ground. So something’s gotta give.
  • Cousins has only thrown 63 passes this season. That’s by far the lowest total in the league, 22 fewer than the 31st ranked 49ers. That’s 40 fewer passes than the Bears have attempted this season! When Cousins had to pass – against the Packers – he completed 43.8% of his passes to a rating of 52.9. This is a bad, bad match-up for the Vikings quarterback.
  • A few players who jumped off Vikings tape:
    • Rookie Irv Smith Jr. is working out of the slot and adds a terrific dimension to their receiving corps as a high-percentage throw/catch guy.
    • Eric Wilson was all over the field against the Raiders, registering 11 tackles and 2 sacks. (He started in place of Anthony Barr.) Wilson is one of those defenders the OL must account for at the snap.

Tweet of the Week

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Vikings at Bears Game Preview, Volume I: The Game Poem

| September 26th, 2019


I remember the shotgun.

Loaded, leaned up against his rocking chair,

smatterings of his faded blood on the porch planks he laid

with haggard hands so many years before.

He wore a wide-brimmed Akubra, tilted forward to cover his eyes.

Not a cowboy hat. Or a Stetson. An Akubra.

He sipped from a cold can.

He waited.

When they drove by, they drove by slowly.

He laid the can on the porch,

raised the shotgun to his lap,

and showed them his eyes.

This was his home.

And he would protect it.

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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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