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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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Week 17: NYE Bears at Vikings Game Preview

| December 28th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

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.


Poem

Enter twenty-eighteen.

Never has the calendar been more desperate for change.

Daylight approaches, I promise.


Fiddler

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.


Some Thoughts on the Actual Game

  • There is a scenario wherein the Vikings are not the second seed in the NFC playoffs. Far-fetched but it exists. And that should be enough to motivate them all week. And if they’re motivated, the game is over. At halftime Sunday the Bears led the Browns 6-3 in one of the more lifeless halves of football ever played. If the Bears play a similar half in Minneapolis they’ll be down two or three touchdowns because the Vikings are simply not the Browns. They’re quite good.

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The 3 Best & Worst Games of John Fox’s Bears Tenure: Part I (Best)

| December 19th, 2017

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.

Best Games

#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.

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Bears Fall to 1-4, Trubisky Debuts, Fox Flops: Rapid Fire Reaction to MNF

| October 10th, 2017

  • Let’s take Trubisky just on his execution and not on what those around him did. He displayed all the traits that excited Ryan Pace (and me) during the pre-draft period: athleticism, mobility, powerful arm, accuracy. He also tried to do too much several times and made a few mistakes. The interception was the glaring error but the throw that almost killed Markus Wheaton was just as misguided. The touchdown pass was more a physical mistake than a mental one.
  • One thing I liked about Tru’s performance: he ran to throw. He didn’t take off down the sideline when Bears receivers weren’t open. He threw the ball downfield and tried to let them make plays. When he’s got professional receivers out there, this will lead to big plays.
  • Worst performance from the offensive line this season, almost across the board. They were bullied at the point of attack and committed costly penalties.
  • Dion Simms, what the hell? He missed two blocks on pivotal runs and then ran short of the sticks/dropped the ball on a third-down play designed specifically for him. Explain to me why this guy is on the field over Zach Miller. Explain to me why getting Adam Shaheen experience in these games is not more valuable than wasting time on Simms. Money?
  • The fake punt and two-point conversion were spectacular calls. Those are the two positive things I will say about this coaching staff last night.

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Vikings at Bears Week 5 Game Preview

| October 5th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But I EXTRA like the Chicago Bears this week!!!


Four Thoughts on Trubisky’s First Start

  • It’s difficult to imagine how nervous this kid is going to be. First start. Monday Night Football. At home in front of a crowd that is desperate for him to be great. Dowell Loggains has to ease Trubisky into this game and then turn him loose. It is the most important game of Loggains’ time in Chicago.
  • Since it’s his first start, don’t be surprised if the Bears constantly roll him out to the right side, eliminate half the field and “flood” options to that side – someone in the flat, someone deep and someone running an intermediate route. This will give Tru five quick options: over the top, middle, flat, toss it OB, run.
  • When Trubisky doesn’t understand what he’s seeing after the snap – and it will happen – his instincts are going to be to run with the football. Bears have to coach that out of him. Throwing the football into the fourth row will be better for Trubisky long-term than taking a hit to gain five yards on second down. If he sees daylight on the other hand…
  • Two positions are going to benefit from Trubisky starting: wide receivers and offensive tackles. The wides will now have a few extra seconds to find holes in the secondary due to Tru’s mobility. The tackles can now slide the edge rushers up the field without fear, knowing the QB won’t be afraid to take a few steps up into the pocket and deliver the ball down the field.

Monty Hall, Dead at 96

Many people who attend New York University study serious things. I did not. I did a lot of work on game shows. Yes, at the Department of Cinema Studies you could actually write thesis papers on game shows and Bob Fosse and re-use papers you and Noah Brier wrote on “ALF & American Television”.

Monty Hall was a great game show host. Here are my top ten game show hosts of all-time. I like to think very few people could even make a list like this.

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Sunday Column: At 1-3, All Hope for 2017 Season Is Not Lost

| October 1st, 2017

The 2017 Chicago Bears have played four games, all against teams that finished 2016 with a winning record.  It is easily the most difficult four-game stretch of their entire campaign and, at 1-3, they’ve dug themselves a hole. But it’s not an inescapable one. But they can only escape the hole by embracing reality and turning the football over to the future of the franchise.

At home they ranged from respectable to downright terrific, sporting a powerful rushing attack and a tough, improved defense. They should have beaten the defending conference champions and without the use of a professional quarterback, they hung on for dear life to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the road they were a disaster worthy of J.J. Watt’s charity. The quarterback was an embarrassment and as a result the team was rendered non-competitive.

Now the Mike Glennon Experience must come to its humiliating end. Signing Glennon can be viewed two ways. Many believe GM Ryan Pace committed starter money to the Once & Future Backup in an act of draft-jockeying subterfuge, allowing the Bears to pursue their quarterback of the future (Trubisky, Mitch) without the other thirty-one clubs getting wind of their intentions. Even if you buy that theory, it doesn’t answer one important question: why did they still play Glennon in September when he was so poor all summer?

Other folks, including the author of this piece, believe the Glennon signing to be a grotesque evaluative error. Pace and his pro personnel people believed Glennon was good enough to hold down the starting gig for the entirety of 2017 and win a bunch of games. Remember, the Bears were not guaranteed Trubisky. Two weeks before the draft the Browns were rumored to be considering him with the top pick. Pace thought Glennon was a viable NFL starter. Everything the misshapen signal caller has done since his signing in March has proven him 100% wrong.

[Author’s Note: I can’t tell you how happy I am to wrap up that paragraph and wrap up my Mike Glennon writing career. I took little joy in the last seven months of DBB. And I’ll never understand why the Bears did what they did.]

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First & Final Game Preview of 2016: Bears at Vikings

| December 30th, 2016

No Weekend Show this week as I’m under the weather and my voice is dogshit. Thus, we return to an old standby…THE GAME PREVIEW!

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

Any Football Reasons, Jeff?

Sure. Four:

  • Mutiny in Minnesota. Not sure I’ve ever heard stories like the ones coming out of the Vikings game against Green Bay last weekend. The head coach created a defensive approach, taught it to his players and then a corner decided, “Eh, fuck it.” Then they told the press all about it! We knew something was wrong in Minny when Norv jumped ship mid season. I don’t think anyone knew it was this wrong.
  • #barkleytime. Yep, I’m making the prediction. Matt Barkley will rebound from the awful performance against Washington and play his way to Bourbonnais.
  • What is the fatal flaw of these Bears? Their secondary. What quarterback threatens the secondary less than Bradford? I’m not sure. Bradford wants to dink and dunk his way to glory and that plays right into the hands of Fangio’s defense.
  • There was a time when the Vikings rush defense looked like the league’s best. But there was also a time when the Vikings were good. Now they’re a midpack rush defense, facing a juggernaut back 60 or so yards from the Bears rookie record. Jordan Howard dominates.

Football Friday & Saturday (The Future)

Players to watch in the bowl games over the next two days:

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Is Anything Worth Watching Sunday?

| December 26th, 2016

While the nation’s drinking amateurs battle their New Year’s Eve hangovers, many of us with saddle up our favorite barstool to watch the last Chicago Bears game of this depressing, injury-plagued 2016 campaign. But is the experience anything more than a mere formality?

Many will argue no. They will say nothing happening on the field in Minnesota will have any bearing on the future of this football team. And, honestly, it’s a point well-taken. But my job is to find meaning. So I’m doing my job. Here’s three things worth paying attention to when it comes to the finale.

The Barkley Rebound

#Barkleytime is coming off his first clunker of 2016 and it would be easy for fans to expect the sailing passes and poor decision making from his effort against Washington to continue. Sunday’s Barkley was the one many us expected and were shocked not to see through his first four starts.

Another dud and the bloom comes entirely off the rose. But a solid, mistake-free start could make it easy for Ryan Pace to keep Barkley in the fold moving forward. He’s shown tremendous rebound within game, often shaking off a poor three quarters to deliver a brilliant fourth. Can he rebound with a week of negativity between starts?

The Run Defense

A coach once told me “run defense is all about want to”. If that’s true the Bears haven’t wanted to in a fortnight.

Both Green Bay and Washington out-muscled the the middle of the Bears defense and took advantage of their lack of discipline on the outside. Yes, there are injuries playing a role in these struggles. But injuries don’t excuse McPhee letting Cousins around the edge, Amos taking bad angles or Hicks disappearing after a dominant period mid-season.

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