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:
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…
Sunday – 2:05 pm CT
Pick: Patriots -9.5
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.
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.
Saturday – 7:15 pm CT
Pick: Patriots -13
This Titans crap has gone on long enough. Patriots 27, Titans 10.
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
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
I always like the Chicago Bears. And I like them even more after seeing their young nucleus live. This week I’m peppering the preview with a couple of my favorite finales in musical theatre history. Why? Because I run things around here and realistically can do whatever the hell I want.
Never has the calendar been more desperate for change.
Daylight approaches, I promise.
As great as Fiddler on the Roof is, and I think it’s the greatest musical ever written, it is never quite given enough credit for how bold it is in its storytelling. Fiddler is not a tragedy but it ends tragically, with the Jewish citizens of a Russian village forced to leave their home, Anatevka. The song is a funeral dirge, a self-deprecating requiem for a way of life these people know they’ll never find again. But there is optimism in this dour ballad, even if it’s difficult to find. Because these people are going to a new world, a new frontier, creating a new America.
The John Fox era is coming to an end in Chicago. All those “what-if” scenarios about the Bears winning out after dominating the Bengals can be put to bed after Saturday’s beatdown at the hands of the Lions. So for my first post on DBB I’m going to look back and reflect on the three best and three worst games of the John Fox era.
Since we’re trying to stay positive in Bears fandom, I’ll start with the good. As of writing this John Fox only has 13 wins as Bears coach; three of which came when Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley were under center. So really I’m looking at 10 games here. Slim pickings, but you work with what you’ve got.
#3. November 15th, 2015
Chicago Bears @ St. Louis Rams: Chicago 37, St. Louis 13.
This win marks the second biggest margin of victory of any Bears win under Fox. It followed a thrilling comeback win in San Diego against the Chargers the previous week, making it the second time that season the Bears managed to string two wins together in a row. (They have never managed three in a row under Fox.) Jay Cutler went 19/24 with 3 TDs, no turnovers, and a career high passer rating of 151.0. It was decisive, dominant, and damn fun to watch. It put the Bears at 4-5, which after a 0-3 start was a happy surprise. You could see the improvement in the team, and more importantly, you could see that they were buying into John Fox’s message and methodology. It felt like it could be the beginning of more good things to come.
#2. October 31st, 2016
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears: Chicago 20, Minnesota 10.
Coming into this game things weren’t great for the Bears or John Fox. Rumors that week circulated that Ryan Pace had hired outside consultants to evaluate day-to-day operations and that Fox was potentially one bad game away from being fired. Jay Cutler was returning from a thumb injury with many under the opinion he had fallen out of favor with Fox, and had Brian Hoyer not gotten hurt the previous week against the Packers, might not have returned as a starter at all.