(Here are the random notes and numbers that I found interesting about last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game while poring over any and all press coverage.)
The Bears are the first team since the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢90 Bills to bench a QB with 10 wins in a season and only the second since the merger.
Grossman: 11 for 23, 166 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (wouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been more TDs if Moose remembered how to catch). Those stats include a 54-yard pass to Berrian. Whatever the stats say, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a different offense with Rex out there.
TJ: 25 carries for 105 yards, 1 TD, an average of 4.2 yards per carry bringing his totals to 1,273 yards and 9 TDs, both career highs. In fact it is his first 1,000-yard season. He accounts for 36.8% of the Bears total offense. That percentage is second only to Tiki Barber. The two finished in that same order last year as well. He is 27 yards short of being the only Bear besides Walter Payton to run for 1,300 yards in a season. This was his 5th game over 100 yards, only the 7th Bear to accomplish that. He ran for over 100 yards in a span of 4 out of 5 games earlier this year. All that after missing 1 complete game and half of 2 others with injuries.
TJÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 25-yard draw was the 11th time he gained 20+ yards. That is the most since Payton had 10 in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢84.
Berrian: 3 catches for 93 yards. He has been stepping up big. This season he has averaged 19.9 yards on his 12 catches. He also had 3 punt returns for a total of 30 yards with 0 fumbles and 0 muffs.
Moose: 5 catches for 58 yards, 1 TD and at least 3 drops, including one that wouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a TD.
The Bears offense: 28th in yardage, 31st in passing and 24th in scoring. They are 10th in turnovers with 28. They also rank 31st in 3rd-down conversions with 28.1%. Since Grossman came back they are at 44.4% but missed a couple 3rd and short this week.
They are 5-14 on 3rd and 1s and have not converted one since playing the 49ers failing their last 5 attempts.
Through 15 games the defense has: allowed 15 TDs, an average of 1 per game, held 6 opponents to 0 TDs, held 4 opponents to only 1 TD, had 27 INTs, scoring 4 TDs of their own off those interceptions, recovered 27 fumbles, and sacked opposing QBs 41 times, allowed no run longer than 42 yards, no pass longer than 56 yards, only 1 punt/kick return for a TD, only 12 TD scoring drives of over 50 yards, and rank in the top 8 in the 11 main defensive categories on their way to yielding a league leading low of 11.2 points per game (last year they yielded 20.7). They have allowed 66 points less than the Colts who are second in that category. Oddly enough given these numbers they have not shut anyone out.
Favre has thrown 109 passes for 0 TDs and 6 INTs in their two meetings this year.
Green Bay scored 10 points in the 4th quarter, ending the 43-quarter streak of allowing 7 points or less. (It also ended my chances of winning in fantasy football.) That streak is second behind this weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opponent. The Ã¢â‚¬â„¢69 Vikings made it 52.
The Bears cannot set a new NFL record for fewest points in a season but can set the franchise record if they allow 18 points or less.
Harris: 5 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 PD. He played hard out there, that second INT sealed the game and our division title. Only mistake was the costly pass interference in the end zone with the Packers facing 3rd and long.
Briggs: 5 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PD and 1 TD off a 10 yard INT return. One of only 10 players to have 2 INTs returned for TDs over the last 2 seasons. Oddly enough, his last was in week 16 of last season. (Darren Sharper is the only one with more having returned 4 over that span.)
Tillman: 7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD.
McGowan: 8 tackles, 1 PD. This kid is playing hard. Led the team in tackles.
Alex Brown: 3 tackles, 1 crucial sack for an 8 yard loss
Tank: 2 tackles, 1 crucial sack for an 9-yard loss
Tommie Harris: offsides twice? You lineup on top of the ball how the hell do you not know when you are offsides?
Vasher: Held interceptionless this week but he can tie Deltha OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neal for most INTs over the last two seasons (14) with an INT this week.
Only 5 teams have had completion rates of 60% or above against the Bears. That includes three of the four teams that beat the Bears (Washington being the odd man out) and in the other two games went down to or past the wire (Saints and Lions).
All these stats are pretty amazing, and I am certainly not complaining but the tackling, especially in the first half worried me heavily.They allowed the Packers 365 total yards, only 65 of those yards came on the ground. Most came from short passes and lots after bad tackles. Green Bay was continually getting first downs they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t deserve after breaking tackles for an extra 3-4 yards. Briggs had some egregious examples of this before getting in synch in the second. That is 2 games in 3 weeks where our tackling has looked awful. It didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cost us this week but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen what playoff teams can do to us if we play like that. There were also a number of plays, including 1 potential TD pass to Driver where we escaped only because Favre threw poor passes. Yeah the pressure we were bringing helped but we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really get to him till the last 3 plays of the game. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mistake me, I am not down on our D at all, but everything has room for improvement.
This was the first sweep of the Packers since before Brett in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢91.
If the Bears win this week it will be their first division sweep since 1987.
It will also put Lovie at .500 on the road. In JauronÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last two seasons they were 2-14.
The Bears have already set a record for most wins (11) by a second year coach with 1 game remaining.
I have mentioned this in previous Notes and Numbers but once again we were hammered on time of possession: 26:57 to 33:03.
A quick playoff note: while overall, teams with a first round bye are 62-18 in divisional games in the last 20 years, the Bears currently have a record of 2-3.
The Bears' D isnt the only thing in Illinois reminiscent of 1985. So is my dial-up which is reason for the belated post.
I had the pleasure of taking my brother (pictured) and my father to the Bears/Falcons game as their Christmas present. Some notes from stadium:
It was freezing. The wind chill was Ã¢â‚¬â€œ4 to start the second half and ultimately dropped to -7. That was the temp on the field. High in the stands with the wind coming at you directly off Lake Michigan it was significantly colder. In fact it was so cold that even though I was drinking my beer quickly, by the time I got to the last quarter it was a beer slushy, a very thick beer slushy. Large numbers of people were going to the bathroom just to stand under the heating vents.
Nevertheless that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop my brother from marking the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ second half TD by risking frostbite and exposure. 54,771 fans in attendance. It appeared only a dozen or so took their shirts off. One of those was my brother. Originally we hoped to convince my dad to do the shirtless thing and the three of us would be Ã¢â‚¬Å“GÃ¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“SÃ¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“HÃ¢â‚¬? respectively. He refused cause heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s old and I thought better of it after 10 seconds outside. Max, only 24 hrs removed from 5 months in warm Hawaii, had to be forced to put his clothes back on.
Vick on the other hand was absolutely miserable. He was always buried in the coat on the sidelines and by the 4th quarter seemed to only care about leaving. There was one play where he avoided a tackle and then simply laid down even though there were yards between him and the next defender.
Most of the crowd, myself included, completely missed Moose yelling at Orton on the sidelines. The first indication that something was going on was at the end of halftime when people noticed Rex taking practice snaps from Kreutz on the sideline and there was this growing murmur passing through the crowd. People went crazy when he ran out to the huddle and the place absolutely exploded when he hit Moose with that bullet on his first snap. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if how well the energy translated on TV and god knows if anything will ultimately come of it, but it was one of the coolest moments Id ever seen in sports.
Finally, during halftime there was a contest to win a house. Five contestants were paired with 5 different Ã¢â‚¬â„¢85 Bears and each tried to open a different freestanding door. The door that opened won the house. Gary FencikÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s partner won. Mongo reacted to this by kicking his door down and stomping it.
And, as always, notes and numbers:
Orton: 2 for 10 for 10 yards. 0-7 on 3rd downs. 1.2 yards per attempt.
He had less than 93 passing yards in 3 of his 14 starts. In all fairness he was the QB for 10 wins (He was credited with the Falcons win because he started) making him third all time for wins by a QB in a rookie season. He threw for 1,810 yards, 9 TDs and 13 INTs with a 52% completion rating and a passer rating of 59.9 last among qualifying QBs.
Grossman, only 129 days after breaking his ankle was: 9 for 16 for 93 yards, 5.8 yards per attempt, 0 TDs, 1 INT, a 47.1 passer rating and intangibles and inspiration that are uncharitable. He converted 3 of his first 4 3rd down attempts. In the previous 6 halves: 3 for 36. His start today against the Packers will be the 28th QB change in the last 106 games.
TJ: 27 carries for 91 yards and 1 TD. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 8 TDs this season, a career high
Bernard Berrian: no muffed punts. Good enough to be the 7th Bears player this season to be an NFL player of the week.
The Bears rank 26th in the NFL with a time of possession of 28:26 and are the only team with a winning record and a possession time of under 29 minutes.
The longest pass completion of the first half for either team was 12 yards.
The NFLÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s #1 rushing attack was held to 114 yards and the Falcons were held to 231 total.
Vick: 13 of 32 passes for 122 yards, 35 yards rushing, 0 TDs and 2 INT
Urlacher: 12 tackles 1 PD.
Mike Green: 1 big INT and a simply monstrous hit on Jenkins to cause VasherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s INT. I guess I picked the wrong weekend to jump off the then lonely Mike Green bandwagon.
Adewale Ogunleye: 1 sack. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 10 on the season. The first Bear to hit that mark since Richard Dent in Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ93
This is only the second time the Bears have had double digit wins in the last 14 years.
The Bears allowed only 61 pts in their 8 home games including only 1 TD in the last 6 in Soldier Field, a NFL record. That TD being the only TD allowed in the last 80 possessions.
They have held 10 of 14 opponents to less than 14 points.
They have currently allowed 151 total points. If they allow 13 points or fewer in the remaining two games combined they will beat the current record, held by the 2000 Ravens. If they allow less than 36 pts they can break the franchise record of 187 set in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢86.
Since the 16 game season began, 7 teams have allowed less than 200 points. Four of those won the Super Bowl including the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢85 Bears.
Congrats to no-brainers Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown and Olin Kreutz.
Congrats to first-timers and future stars Nathan Vasher and Lance Briggs.
Congrats to the world for noticing the terrific year for Tommie Harris.
They're not selling booze in Giants Stadium for the Jets / Pats game Monday night. They are still selling packs of razor blades and bathtubs full of warm water.
Congrats to the Houston Texans. Let the D'brickshaw Ferguson era begin!
For all those people who were on the "but Kyle Orton just wins" bandwagon, here's a stat for you: Kyle Orton got credited for a win Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
I've said it a thousand times...wins are the wrong way to job a quarterback in the same way wins are the wrong way to judge a starting pitcher in baseball. There are too many elements out of that position's control. Kyle Orton is the Aaron Small of the NFL.
How come every time we see a team on national television completely failing to tackle it's the Kansas City Chiefs?
I really hope every Bears fan got a chance to watch the Packers be humiliated last night. It was great. And John Madden spent the entirety of the second half essentially calling the Pack "quitters."
SHUT UP ABOUT THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, ESPN! SHUT UP. STOP TALKING ABOUT THEM! You why I don't care about their win over the Colts? Because they lost to the Dolphins at home the week before. Why are people so intent on making excuses for this team?
How many magazine covers does Shaun Alexander have to make before people stop calling him the "player you've never heard of." Listen idiots, this is a fantasy football dominated culture. Every single NFL fan in the country knows not only who Shaun Alexander is but how many touchdowns he's scored the last five seasons. And this whole - BUT THEY PLAY ALL THE WAY OUT IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON thing is just ludicrous.
If the Patriots beat the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs, is that the funniest thing to ever happen in sports?
If I was ever going to bring back the minstrel show to popular culture, all I'd have to do is study tape of Michael Irvin on Monday Night Countdown.
Listen everyone knows I detest Brett Favre but don't the Packers have to turn to Aaron Rodgers down the stretch here to see what they have. How many seasons will you sacrifice to Favre's legend status?
I like Charlie Frye.
I love Rex Grossman.
I know it didn't seem like that big a deal but I think it's pretty impressive that over a thousand people gave up a few hours of their day in Detroit Sunday to protest their general manager still having a job.
Funniest development in football this year: Jim Haslett asking for a five-year extension and complete control in New Orleans. In similar news, Chad Hutchinson has requested the franchise tag from the Bears.
With two weeks left in the season, here are my awards:
MVP - Shaun Alexander
Offensive Player of the Year - Steve Smith
Defensive Player of the Year - Brian Urlacher
Offensive Rookie of the Year - Cadillac vs. Ronnie (whoever finishes with more yards)
Defensive Rookie of he Year - Shawn Merriman barely over Lofa Tatupu
Coach of the Year - Lovie Smith
If I'm Tony Dungy, I go out and beat the Seahawks this weekend and start resting on Sunday.
Anybody know how to drive a subway train?
The second seed in the NFC is an absolute necessity for the Chicago Bears. I just don't see how any of these NFC teams are going to come into that stadium and beat them. That puts them an upset against Seattle (more than likely) away from home field throughout. Oh god, here I go again...
If the '72 Dolphins played in this year's NFL they'd be 8-8 at best.
I love John Madden but the Packers are not a couple moves away from being the best team in the NFC North again.
If you were to make a list of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year, how long would it take for you to get to an NFC guy?
Peyton, Palmer, Brady, Plummer, Trent Green...
Mike Green is the Aaron Brooks of safeties. He sucks but occasionally he does something that makes you stop and marvel at how gifted he is.
It isn't about his numbers. It isn't about the victory. It was about a stadium reborn and a team revitalized. Last night Rex Grossman announced his intentions to every one of us in Bears land: he's going to take this team into the playoffs and he's going to find ways to score points.
Don't call it unimpressive. Don't call it mediocre. Last night Grossman was masterful. Ask Muhsin Muhammad. Ask Justin Gage. Ask Ron Turner. Ask Patrick Kerney and the Falcons defense. Yeah, he got lucky down at the goalline but Grossman's right...doesn't he deserve a little luck?
Next week will be something. In Green Bay. Division in our grasp. First-round bye attainable. And the first Rex Grossman start of 2005.
18 held down the fort but this is 8's team. And it makes me fucking teary-eyed to write it but here goes....
Hey 8, it's Packer week.
(Here are the random notes and numbers that I found interesting about last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game while pouring over any and all press coverage.)
These numbers are almost as ugly as the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tackling last week. That said, and despite my despondency on Sunday, I think this game was an anomaly and that the Bears D is still very good. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how we will do this week, but I think the D will rebound and that it matches up much better to the FalconÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s running game than the Steelers. It will be a tough game so we will need KO to build on some of last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s garbage time success.
The Steelers out gained the Bears 363-268 including 190 Steeler rushing yards.
Those 363 yards are a season high. The BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ total yards allowed for the season is 3,517, keeping them in first place but only 4 yards ahead of the Bucs.
The Bears allowed more TDs than in their previous four games combined.
During the 8 game win streak the D allowed an average of 8.5 points.
The BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ D forced one lousy 3 and out In part because they allowed the Steelers to convert 7 of 14 3rd downs. That included the 16-yard play after the Bears forced a 4th and 1 and Lovie decided to take the penalty giving the Steelers a shot on a 3rd and 13. The Bears entered the game allowing only 28.4% a NFL high.
It was the first time in 18 games that the Bears have given up a TD on their opponentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ first possession. That possession included a 45-yard screen pass that saw Urlacher blocked out and Briggs stumbling over him and a 14-yard pass that saw Hines Ward shake off numerous tackles before dragging Todd Johnson into the end zone.
We gave Bettis his longest run since Ã¢â‚¬â„¢02 (39 yards) and 2 of his 5 TDs this year.
For the second time this year the Bears were without a sack. They barely had a hit on the QB. They currently have 37 on the year.
The Steelers ran 46 times including 18 touches for the Bus. Understandable why undersized D-linemen wore down late in the game. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the plethora of missed tackles (19, yes thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s correct 19 is officially the numerical equivalent of Ã¢â‚¬Å“plethoraÃ¢â‚¬?) in the first half that are inexplicable.
Alex Brown: 3 solo tackles. Mentioned only because no other lineman had more than 1.
Mike Green: 1 unrecovered FF and lots of missed tackles. I am officially out of the Mike Green supporters club. Better late than never.
Brian Urlacher: 10 tackles but sure seemed like nearly as many missed and then of course there was the great shot of him getting run over by the Bus for his second TD.
McGowan: tied with Briggs for game high 11 tackles. No disrespect to the boy from Jersey but its worrisome that he is in the game, its time to panic if he is our most reliable tackler.
Orton: 17 for 35 for 207 yards, 3 sacks, 3 rushes for 8 yards and 0 turnovers. I thought he looked pretty good all things considered. He put together a 63-yard drive in the first quarter, only marred by the fact that he missed a wide open TJ in the end zone and had to settle for a FG and he threw two long passes in heavy snow in the fourth leading to a TJ TD. His second pass in the drive was to Berrian who sure looked like he slid into the end zone so it shouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been marked a 43-yard TD. We drank the Orton 20+ yard TD pass celebratory car-bomb anyway.) Those completions were due in large part to the athletic dive by Clark and the way Berrian wrestled the ball away from the cornerback on his way down, so needless to say those passes werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t perfectly thrown. But in that kind of weather with all that snow coming down those werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bad throws for KO.
Moose: 8 catches for 91 yards. Season highs.
The Bears ran a mere 18 times.
The Bears converted 23% of third downs going 3 for 13. They came into the game ranked 31st in the NFL in 3rd down conversions. Their third down conversion in their 63-yard drive was the first successful conversion in 14 tries. They only have three in the last 23 third down situations. Atlanta, the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ opponent this week, leads the NFL in 3rd down defense, allowing only 28.5%
Bobby Wade: 4 returns for 26 yards and a muffed 56-yard punt, recovering it at the 1-yard line.
Bobby WadeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Chicago career: 15 starts, 64 catches, 698 yards. He did have the 76-yard return for TD against the Lions, and his yards per catch is still in the 9-yard range but he cant hold on to anything. Of the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 10 mishandled punts this season, Wade was responsible for 8. He canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even hold onto an agent. The playersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ union has suspended his current one, Jerome Stanley. As poor as his play became, he sounded like a pretty nice guy so I wish him limited success on the Titans.
Robbie Gould: 29 yard field goal. Missed the extra point. Unacceptable Robbie Gould. First pissed PAT since 12/26/99. He did not get within the 10 on 3 of his kickoffs. And for a kicker who is 1-5 on kicks longer than 40 yards who did the Bears think they were fooling with that fake on what wouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a 50+ yard attempt in heavy snow.
The Steelers controlled the clock with 22:24 time of possession in the second half and over just over 37 minutes total.
Tommie Harris jumping offsides was the only penalty committed by the Bears in this game (Mike Green got called for holding but the Steelers declined). That cost the Bears 5 yards and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the least penalty yards the Bears have had since their game with the Eagles on 12/24/94 when they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t commit a single penalty. That brings the Bears to 23 penalties in their last 5 games behind only the Chargers and Panthers in that period.
Looking Forward: IF the Bears win they will be 7-1 in Soldier Field. This would be the 5th time in franchise history that they have achieved that record since 1978 when the season was lengthened to 16 games. They went 7-1 in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢86, Ã¢â‚¬â„¢88, Ã¢â‚¬â„¢90 and Ã¢â‚¬â„¢01. They went 8-0 at home in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢85.
Mike Brown worked out individually on the sidelines with Chris Harris and Cedric Benson but it is quite possible that Brown is out for the rest of the regular season.
While the offense has suffered mightily from injuries including Grossman, Bradley and Benson, until last week the defense hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t had a starter miss a game. But Harris and Brown missed last week and now they are joined by Todd Johnson our third safety. Ian Scott, Hunter Hillenmeyer are also questionable for this weeks game. What happened this to the Bears all the sudden?
So here's a question to be discussed...
WHICH QUARTERBACK DOES KYLE REMIND YOU OF MORE:
1. Jim McMahon
2. Jim Harbaugh
3. Erik Kramer
4. Rick Mirer
5. Sid Luckman
(101-84-3 on the year. In need of a big finish...)
DA BEARS -3 OVER ATLANTA
BUFFALO +8.5 OVER DENVER
NEW ENGLAND -4.5 OVER TAMPA BAY
KANSAS CITY +3 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
ARIZONA -1.5 OVER HOUSTON
CAROLINA -9 OVER NEW ORLEANS
CINCINNATI -8 OVER DETROIT
INDIANAPOLIS -7.5 OVER SAN DIEGO
SAN FRANCISCO +15.5 OVER JACKSONVILLE
NEW YORK JETS +8.5 OVER MIAMI
CLEVELAND +3 OVER OAKLAND
PITTSBURGH - 3 OVER MINNESOTA
SEATTLE -7 OVER TENNESSEE
PHILADELPHIA +3.5 OVER ST. LOUIS
WASHINGTON -3 OVER DALLAS
GREEN BAY +3.5 OVER BALTIMORE
I'm not a pessimist when it comes to the Chicago Bears. It isn't in my DNA. I'm a realist. I look at what's in front of me and try to evaluate it with as much common sense as possible.
For those of you who don't know, I'm twenty-three years old and when I was a small kid there wasn't any DirecTV. I also have never lived anywhere near Chicago so being able to sit and watch a Chicago Bears game was indoctrinated into my brain as an honor. It was a gift to be able to watch the team I loved and I wasn't able to do it consistently until the Jersey Sports Cafe opened in Rutherford my freshman year of high school. It took a great deal of commitment and money but I convinced Nicole, the cute barmaid, to put the Bears on one of the smallest televisions in the bar each week. The rub was I had to commit to the entire season - not three or four weeks. I had to be there throughout. And I was. For four years.
It started in the fall of 1996. In '96 the Bears were 5-8 after 13 games. In '97 the Bears were 2-11 after 13 games. In '98 the Bears were 3-10 after 13 games. In '99 the Bears were 5-8 after 13 games. Four years of the Jersey Sports Cafe in Rutherford and not one single meaningful game in the month of December.
College comes and I stumble into a bar called Reservoir, where they refuse to put the Bears opening day game against the Minnesota Vikings, featuring the debut of Cade McNown on one of their television screens. I ended up at a little underground joint called Josie Wood's Pub where a clearly stoned guy claimed to be a Bears fan but couldn't open his eyes. He also had no idea how to work the DirecTV system the bar had just enstalled. So I joined the Bears/Vikings already in progess somewhere in the second quarter. McNown looked great, the Bears just missed pulling out a close one and I had found my new bar. (Although I did go back to Reservoir the following week, for the final time, to watch the Bears lose 41-0 to Tampa Bay. I've never been in the bar since.)
The Bears were 3-10 after 13 games that season. (2001 didn't happen) After winning the first two games of the 2002 season, the Dicky J Bears went on a torrid eight-game losing streak. We know what's happened since.
9 seasons. And only one of the seasons (that didn't happen) had a meaningful game played in the month of December. So I'd like to officially take this opportunity to say to everyone: R.E.L.A.X.
No matter what happens in the immediate future, the Chicago Bears have three meaningful games left on their schedule. In the worst case scenario of the Bears losing two and the Vikes winning two, they'd still have the chance to win the division on the last day of the season. Take comfort. Take solace. Enjoy December football and dramas that involve questions like "Which quarterback gives us the best chance to win in the PLAYOFFS?"
And to be honest with you, I can't think of a single thing I'd rather be doing for the next three Sundays than watching the Chicago Bears plays some football and know that the outcomes of those games are important. i didn't expect nine wins this season. I hoped for 8. Now 10 or 11 is a serious possibility.
A young team last Sunday lost to a veteran team with a veteran coach that needed a win. Watch the kids fight back Sunday night and be proud.
Since it's Tuesday and nobody else has mentioned Sunday's loss, I figured I'd throw out a couple of thoughts and see what everybody has to say.
1. Whatever. The defense has carried this team for the season. They had a bad game. Shit happens.
2. If the Bears had lost 3-0 I would have been really really really angry.
3. We need to score more than 9 points a game.
4. Calm down everybody, they're still good.
5. Orton had some good throws.
6. Lovie smith made a very bad call.
7. Put in Grossman.
(Here are the random notes and numbers that I found interesting about last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game while pouring over any and all press coverage. This oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a long one, even for me.)
They bent more than they have in other games but the only breaking they did was with Farve.
Farve claims he was beaten up more last week against the Bears than any other game this season. He was sacked twice, fumbled 3 times and threw 2 INTs. His 8 game winning streak and his streak of 26 consecutive games against the Bears with a TD pass finally came to an end.
He attempted 58 passes. Only once in the other 1,202 games in BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ history has an opposing QB tried more. That was Randall Cunningham who tried 62 times in 1989.
Brian Urlacher: 16 tackles, (13 solo) and 2 PD, one of which he almost, and shouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve intercepted.
Lance Briggs: 16 tackles, 3 PD, 1 Fumble recovery
Charles Tillman: 6 tackles, 1 sack, 3 PD, 1 FF and 1 INT returned 95 yrd to the Packers 7yrd line, the 4th largest return in BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ history. He also recovered one of DavisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ muffed punt returns. Monster Day for a player I often strongly criticize.
Nathan Vasher: 4 tackles, 1 PD and 1 INT returned 45 yrds for a TD. The man hawks balls. It really is ridiculous. He simply has more ballhawk. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in the running for the Pro Bowl if he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to go thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be a travesty.
Mike Brown: 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF.
Tommie Harris: 2 tackles, 1 FF.
The Bears are now tied with the Vikings and the 49ers with 5 scoring returns this year. (WadeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s punt return against Detroit, BrownÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sixth career INT returned for TD, TillmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game winner against Detroit in OT, VasherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s record setting missed field goal return against the 49ers, and VasherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s return this week.) Currently the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ D has 7 players that combine for 19 career TDs.
On the flip side the Bears are 1 of 5 teams that havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t given up a TD return yet this season.
The Packers had the 5th rated red zone offense. The Bears stopped them on 2 of 3 trips inside. The Bears have given up just 6 red zone TDs, which equals a mere 20% of opponents possessions in their 20yrd line. They are the only team under 40% and every other team has allowed at least 11 TDs.
The story here was not so good. Actually the passing game was abysmal. The running game was solid and dependable as ever and is maligned when people lump it in with the passing game.
The Bears had 188 yrds of offense.
They had more than double the INT-return yardage (140) as it did passing yards (68).
They started 5 of their 13 drives in Packers territory and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t produce a single TD.
They were 0-10 on 3rd down conversions.
In comparison the Packers had 358 total yards and 26 first downs.
It was the first time this season that the Bears failed to score a TD after reaching the red zone. They have a 45.5% success rate in the red zone with 15 TDs in 33 possessions.
Thomas Jones: 93 yrds on 19 carries. He now has 1,005 yrds on the season the first time he has ever gone over 1,000.
Adrian Peterson: 48 yrds on 11 carries. He really had some solid runs too. I really like this guy.
Bernard Berrian: 3 catches for 59 yrds. That is 50% of the Bears receptions and 100% of its net passing yards.
Moose and Gage: 0 receptions for 0 yards.
Orton: 6-of-17, 68 yrds, 1 INT and a passer rating of 23.7. His net passing yards was actually 49 due to him taking 3 sacks for a negative 19 yards due to his instance on holding onto the ball for 6 and 7 second counts.
The last time the Bears won with such a poor performance was with the immortal Craig Krenzel who had a 19.3 rating against the Titans. On the season he has a 53.4 completion percentage, 9 TDs and 13 INTs. The benched and disgraced Joey Harrington has a higher rating.
The Packers had the 23rd ranked run D in the league. The Bears attempted a pass on 5 of their first 7 plays. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score on those possessions. Then with a 12-7 lead and trying to ice it with 4:14 left in the game, the Bears opted for a handoff to TJ on 3rd and 10 instead of attempting a pass. Quite a shift in confidence in the QB over the course of a game.
There are rumors of the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ offensive calling on Orton to step up during one huddle during the game, and Moose has been making his feelings known after going without a catch for the first time in 51 games including playoffs.
Personally I feel that Orton has this week to perform or else Rex starts.
Maynard really deserves a trip to the Pro Bowl whatever his numbers. He dropped a snap and on the run still got off a 34 yarder. And when Hillenmeyer got flagged as an ineligible receiver on a poor Maynard punt that ended on the Packers 24 they were dumb enough to replay the down. Maynard hit a 63 yarder. Even when it rolled into the end zone the touchback putt it at the 20 and cost Green Bay 4 yards. He is so good at pinning opponents on their goal line and letting the D do the rest.
This season BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ opponents have driven for a TD after only 4 of MaynardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last 73 brilliant punts.
Robbie Gould: 3 for 4, and he missed that last one by just 2 yards. He's 15-for-20 on the season and leads rookie kickers in scoring.
The Bears are averaging 27.8 yards per return on 18 interceptions, compared with 4.2 yards per return on 13 picks by their opponents. This has been attributed to Lovie's demand on the practice field that they treat any loose ball as a live ball and try to return it, even if it was just an incomplete pass. Makes the D more opportunistic, and makes the offense better prepared to make tackles.
Quick notes on this weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game against the Steelers:
There are 229 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of those 43 are from the Bears and Steelers.
The Steelers are 0-5 when they rush for less than 100 yards
The BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ red zone D will have their work cut out for them. The Steelers have 7 touchdowns in their last 11 trips in the red zone.
The Bears have lost 31out of the last 35 December/January road games. They have lost 20 of the last 21 road games that were outdoors in Dec/Jan.
The win last week assured the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 2nd winning season out of the last 9.
The current 8 game, in-season, win streak, the longest since 1985 is just the 6th in BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ history, a span of 86 years.
The Bears have out rushed their opponents for the last 11 consecutive games.
But the offense has only scored more than 1 TD in only 3 games. They have had 1 TD drive of over 8 yards in the last 4 games. They have 17 TDs on the year WHICH IS TWO FEWER THAN LAST YEAR. The passing game is actually worse than last year, averaging 122.1 yards a game. That season we had Rex for 3 games then Quinn/Krenzel/Hutch, an axis of evil if there ever was one. The last time it was this bad was 1978 when Bob Avellini and Mike Phipps averaged 120.8. This is why there is a brewing QB debate, no matter what our record is.
Kreutz and Miller have been fined $50,000 each for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
The Bears lead the NFL with 8 interception returns for TDs in their two seasons under Lovie (three this year).
With 4 takeaways to 2 turnovers against the Packers the Bears now have a turnover ration of plus 1. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the first time the Bears have been on the positive side since the Cleveland game.
Bears lead the league in percentage of points (88) scored off turnovers with 43.8%, the highest percentage for any team since 2000. Last year they had 74 take away pts, which was tied for 16th in the league. (However those 74 pts were 32% of their pt total which similarly led the NFL.)
Alex Brown has drawn 14 holding penalties and forced 9 false starts this season.
The Bears are 14-9 at the Ã¢â‚¬Å“newÃ¢â‚¬? Soldier Field with one game remaining.
When the ColtsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ beat the Titans last week they set the record for most consecutive wins by more than 7 pts. The previous record was 11 set by the 1942 Bears.
The Bears have screwed up 9 of the seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 36 punt returns (25%).
The Bears/Packers game had a 31.1 television rating in Chicago. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 30% higher than their season opener and comparable to what the White Sox brought in in their postseason.
It seems the Bears have gone from defensive media darling to quarterback controversy overnight and somehow without losing. Why? Because people are starting to realize that this defense is good enough to beat any team in football and with a quarterback that hits open receivers, could make a cinderella run at the Super Bowl.
The truth is we won't know if Kyle can play until Kyle is put in a situation where he HAS to play. I almost want to see the Bears down a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter Sunday so we can make an accurate evaluation.
What's my verdict? I don't know. How can anyone know? In the meantime, I'll take the victories.
93-77-2 on the season and charging forward...
CHICAGO +5.5 OVER PITTSBURGH
I like Pittsburgh in this game, to tell you the truth. I tend to like very well-coached teams in must-win games. But I'm not sure good coaching can make up for the deficiencies on the Steeler offensive line, which will be exploited by the Bears front four - the best in the business. I keep writing that Kyle Orton is going to have to make a play for the Bears to pull out the win. He hasn't and they have. So what do I know? Either way, this is a fieldgoal game in the hardest stadium on Earth to kick field goals.
TAMPA BAY +5.5 OVER CAROLINA
Carolina will beat any team in football when they get running performances like they got from Deshaun Foster last week. Unfortunately, the Bucs are one of about four teams (and three likely NFC playoff teams with Chicago and Dallas) that won't allow you to beat them on the ground. Carolina probably wins a close one.
CINCINATTI -12.5 OVER CLEVELAND
If this line were 19.5, I'd still take it. I don't like Charlie Frye on the road. I don't like the Browns receivers sans Bray Bray. I don't like the Browns secondary. Bengals win this by halftime.
KANSAS CITY +3 OVER DALLAS
There's rumblings about the loser of this game being out of the playoff hunt. Moreso for KC with a brutal schedule looming. This pick comes down to who I trust more in a big game: Bledsoe/Jones/Glenn or Green/Johnson/Gonzalez. For me, it's the latter and Kansas City keeps their playoff hopes alive with an upset.
DENVER -14 OVER BALTIMORE
The fickle power rankings have been dropping Denver all over the map. Relax. Denver is still pretty damn good and losing at Kansas City in December is okay. No one besides the Chiefs has won there since like 1931. The Ravens might have reached that point when you just clean house and start from scratch.
GREEN BAY -5.5 OVER DETROIT
Mike Greenberg of ESPN says just look at the schedule and pick against the Jets and Lions. I made the mistake of believing in the Lions last week and I won't do it again. The Packers are good enough to win this by a touchdown.
INDIANAPOLIS -7.5 OVER JACKSONVILLE
Without a healthy Fred Taylor and with David Garrard, I really don't see this being close.
ST. LOUIS +7 OVER MINNESOTA
Alright, it's a heart pick. I'm starting to scoreboard watch a little bit.
NEW ENGLAND -3 OVER BUFFALO
My pick: New England wins out and starts becoming "team you don't want to play in the playoffs"
PHILADELPHIA +7 OVER NEW YORK GIANTS
Andy Reid is too damn proud a football coach and that defense is too talented to let two teams walk over them in their own building, in consecutive weeks. If the Eagles limit their turnovers, they'll stay in this game.
OAKLAND -3 OVER NEW YORK JETS
Lamont Jordan: 27 carries, 139 yards, 2 touchdowns. Good call, Terry Bradway.
MIAMI +13 OVER SAN DIEGO
Stop making the Chargers huge favorites! They'll win because of something they do in the fourth quarter.
SAN FRANCISCO +16 OVER SEATTLE
Could the Seattle Seahawks stop making claims that Monday night was a statement game. Yeah it was, if the statement was "We can beat every team quarterbacked by a Rutgers guy 10 times out of 10."
HOUSTON +7 OVER TENNESEE
The Texans are pretty good against the spread these days. I like them here, too, and maybe to get a win.
WASHINGTON -3.5 OVER ARIZONA
The Redskins win and they can get to 7-6. They have to be thinking win out and they won't be screwing around with the Cardinals.
ATLANTA -10 OVER NEW ORLEANS
Never, never, never, never pick the Haslett Saints in December. Mark my words.
This story must be told.
Six of us were sitting around a table in early September for one of the more ridiculous fantasy football drafts in history. Someone (Jeff) had decided a defensive back fantasy football league would be a good idea. The scoring is all pretty normal until you look at interceptions (worth six) and returns touchdowns (worth 12). Anyhow, everyone had scrounged together their DB list and we were ready to draft, beginning with the unsurprising pick (by yours truly) of Ed Reed who was supposed to put up some ungodly number of points after what he did last season. Anyway, everything was going along pretty normal until the second or third round when Dave, of numbers by Dave fame, drafted Nathan Vasher, the third CB on the Bears.
Everyone laughed for a bit at Dave's strange pick, to which he responded with the now famous statement, "he's got a lot of ballhawk."
12 games later Vasher's a starter who has seven interceptions (tied for 2nd in the league), one return TD, an NFL record 108-yard touchdown and a likely spot in the pro bowl. Every time the opposing QB throws his way there's always the thought that he could grab it. He just seems to be in the right place on every play.
There's really only one way to describe it: BALLHAWK.
Best prediction ever?
I see the emotions got the better of folks yesterday. Is the win ugly today?
He was confused. He was pounded. He threw two game-changing interceptions at crucial moments. He didn't throw a touchdown pass. He didn't beat us at home.
Folks, yesterday was the furthest thing from ugly I can imagine.
(Side note: since this blog is going to be covered in "our offense stinks" posts, I'd like to ask you use the phrase "our passing game stinks" because we run the ball pretty damn well.)
This is quick and messy but in preparation for SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s epic game here are notes on the Bears/PackersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ rivalry, the oldest in football.
The Bears lead the Packers 85-78-6 despite dropping 19 of 22 since 1994.
In their only postseason meeting the Bears beat the Packers 33-14 on Dec 14, 1941. 43,425 fans came to Wrigley Field for it. The following NFL championship game between the Bears and the Giants brought in a mere 13,341 fans.
Mike Sherman is 8-2 against the Bears.
Favre has a 21-5 career record against them with a 93.8 career passer rating, including a 98.5 rating on the road. In the last four games in Soldier Field (and the one in Champaign) he has thrown for 11 touchdowns and been intercepted only twice and sacked just four times.
Farve has also won 11 straight on the road against the Bears.
If they won Sunday the Bears would tie the NFL record for consecutive home losses against the same opponent, It is currently shared by the 49ers from 1968 to '80 against the then Los Angeles Rams and the Rams themselves from 1987 to '98 against those same 49ers
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to hear tales about how the Packer season was lost due to injury. They have 8 players on IR, including 4 running backs and 2 wide receivers. But only Ahman Green and Javon Walker were starters.
The Bears have 5 players on IR including two starters, Grossman and Mark Bradley.
Green Bay has given up an average of 155.8 rushing yards in the last 4 games. So look for a good day from TJ and Peterson.
The Bears have shut out the Packers 13 times in 169 all-time meetings dating back to 1921 (The Bears that season were called the Chicago Staleys.)
The fewest points the Packers have scored in the Farve era was last year when they scored 10 in ChicagoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 21-10 win in Lambeau.
Other notes and numbers that bear mentioning:
If the Bears win this week Lovie would be at the .500 mark as a head coach. A fairly amazing achievement considering last years 5-11 record.
Maynard (who is right footed) kicked punts (impressively I hear) with his left foot this week to prepare Rashied Davis for Green BayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s left footed punter. Seriously Maynard is Superman, is there nothing he cannot do?
Thomas Jones needs 88 yrds to record his first 1,000 yrd season He would be the 10th Bear to do so.
The others in the 1,000 club:
Beattie Feathers who in 1934, became the first back in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards.
Walter Payton, a 10 time member.
Neal Anderson: 3 times
Gale Sayers: 2
Atrain: 2 (Go Train!)
James Allen, Raymont Harris, Rashaan Salaam, Rick Casares: 1
Fred Miller can now eat solid food but only "in real small pieces," and he still 10 pounds lighter.
Last week was the 9th time Orton has thrown for under 150 yards
Robbie Gould pronounces his last name "Gold." Which ruins NoahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Its GOULDÃ¢â‚¬? celebration when we Robbie makes a FG or PAT. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Its GoldÃ¢â‚¬? just doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the same ring.
Alex Brown was the Chicago Bear miked up for last weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game continuing an unbelievable streak of games where the player miked up had an incredible day.
Alex Brown is a huge fan of the anime cartoon Dragon Ball-Z
December 2 is the annual "Roberto Garza Day" in Rio Hondo, Texas. He also has a street in town named after him.
Matching his season high with 15 tackles against Tampa Bay, Lance Briggs overtook Urlacher for the team lead in tackles after getting 15 against Tampa. He currently has 120 which is on track to beat his career high set last year with 168. He and Urlacher are the first linebackers to post back-to-back 100 tackle seasons since Barry Minter who recorded over 100 from Ã¢â‚¬â„¢96-Ã¢â‚¬â„¢99.
The Bears have improved from 28th in the league in yards allowed per kick return (25.6) to sixth (20.7).
The Bears lead the NFL overall with 90 negative plays (negative runs, passes for negative yards and sacks), according to Stats Inc.
According to unofficial numbers, the defensive line "ruined" nine of 121 total plays with a sack, deflected pass or a tackle for zero or minus yards against New Orleans and San Francisco. (not including penalties forced or forced fumbles)
Ã¢â‚¬?That "disruption quotient" spiked to 13 of 63 plays against Carolina and 11 of 59 against Tampa Bay. That means nearly 20 percent of all snaps against two of the NFC's top teams were destroyed before they ever reached the line of scrimmage or another Bear.Ã¢â‚¬?
The Bears have allowed opponents to get a first down on only 28.1 percent of their third downs, a rate that leads the league.
And I know a lot has been said about the parallels between the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢05 Bears and the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢85 Bears but while we are doing awesome there is still room for improvement.
The Ã¢â‚¬â„¢85 Bears scored 456 points that year, second in the league. The Ã¢â‚¬â„¢05 BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ have scored 182 points, 16.5 per game, the worst among any team with a winning record. That number includes only 17 TDs. The passing game is averaging an anemic 5.2 yards per attempt. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s barely a yard more than the BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ average per rush.
The offense has scored 1 TD in each of the last 3 games. The last two have come on drives that went a total of 9 yrds. Eight yrds in 3 plays against the Panthers and 1 play for 1 yrd against the Bucs.
The Ã¢â‚¬â„¢85 BearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ D had 64 sacks and 54 turnovers. The Ã¢â‚¬â„¢05 Bears D are on pace for 34 turnovers (for an overall minus-1 turnover margin and 2 defensive TDs) and 54 sacks..
A year ago I almost commissioned a cast-iron statue of Lovie Smith for my front yard in Jersey after he beat the Packers early in the season - at Lambeau. Today I sit with a different agenda.
I want to win. And I want to win decisively.
Because for the first time in the last decade and without even the slightest shred of doubt, the Chicago Bears are a better football team than the Green Bay Packers.
I know #4 has won ten straight in Soldier Field. But going 10-0 against Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron is like beating a dead man in a 50 yard dash. Just show up.
We go 13-3 and lose twice to the Pack. But we knew then that team wasn't very good.
This team is good. This defense is great.
Don't let up. Don't sit back. Send the house and punish #4 for ten years of abuse. I send out notice.
Notice to Thomas Jones: I want 125 and a touchdown.
Notice to Kyle Orton: You throw this one away and I'm going 90-10 in favor of Grossman.
Notice to the O-line: Make sure the two afore-mentioned individuals are taken care of.
Notice to Wale and Alex: He's yours. Hurt him.
Notice to Mike Brown and Chris Harris: If there's a receiver running down the field, you stay on top. Do not let these receivers behind you.
Notice to Brian Urlacher: 15 tackles. Create a turnover. Earn the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Notice to Lovie, the two Rons and the 53: If you think this is something that qualifies as a "trap" game, you're out of touch. I'll take a win Sunday over a win in Pittsburgh next week every single day of the week for the rest of my life. The stadium will be full of people's who heart and soul will be hanging on your performance.
Green Bay: 6
That's what we want. And after a decade of this, we goddamn deserve it.
The number thirteen has always gotten a bad rap, I think. I am not going to go into some bad Ray Romano routine about all the good thirteens out there but I've always found it ridiculous how buildings leave off the thirteenth floor.
This week's picks are dedicated to the passing of my grandfather, Thomas Robert Hughes Sr. He was a bigtime New York Giants fan and his death ultimately proved anticlimactic. Because if he had lived until this past Sunday, Jay Feeley would surely have killed him.
I'm 86-70-2 on the season and that's a winning percentage of about 56%. They say great gamblers win 65% of the time so I'm not quite there yet. It's going to take a strong finish.
CHICAGO -7 OVER GREEN BAY
I know, I know. Brett Favre blah blah blah. The reason I'm picking the Bears this week is because without Ahman Green, the Packers just don't scare me. That and the Bears have just been terrific at home. The number may be high but I think the Bears can get up early and run right down their throat.
ARIZONA -3 OVER SAN FRANCISCO
I refuse to believe that Alex Smith will win a single game as a rookie quarterback. And let me ask you this: if Mike Nolan could go back and do it again, is there any chance he takes Smith first? I'm betting he'd take Ronnie Brown, Cadillac and maybe even Demarcus (Where?) first.
HOUSTON +8 OVER BALTIMORE
Nobody has given enough airtime to what the Texans accomplished this past weekend. They blew a three-touchdown lead to a fading franchise with a back-up head coach and a third-string rookie quarterback from an Ivy League school. Only Dom Capers, people, only Dom Capers. Even with this, I wouldn't make Kyle Boller an 8-point favorite over Don Bosco Prep.
TENNESSEE +16 OVER INDIANAPOLIS
Here's my answer to the Will-the-Colts-try-for-16-0-this-season debate. Yes. Yes, they will. Because it's the ultimate retaliation to the Bill Bellichick dominance. Think about it: which team willl history remember more? The 3 our 4 championship Pats or the perfect and utterly dominant Colts? I bet the Colts. I don't think Peyton plays the fourth quarter of this game and McNair makes it a two touchdown game.
CLEVELAND +3 OVER JACKSONVILLE
David Garrard. People keep telling me he can play. But I don't like him on the road.
BUFFALO +4 OVER MIAMI
Buffalo has to be the most disappointing team in football this season and their season ended against New England on Sunday nights a few weeks ago. But there's no way Nate Clements is going to let Gussy F beat him.
DETROIT +3 OVER MINNESOTA
Here's why I like the Lions: I'm an idiot. I'm a complete and utter moron. So stupid...really, so stupid. But the Bears defenses always played hard for Dick Jauron and I think you'll see the same Sunday. Jauron won't forcia Garcia into seven-step drops. He'll dink. He'll dunk. This game is a fieldgoal one way or the other and I see Jason Hanson kncoking down a 42 yarder late.
NEW ENGLAND -10 OVER NEW YORK JETS
Tom Brady. Not happy. The Jets. Not a real football team.
OAKLAND +11 OVER SAN DIEGO
Since when is San Diego not involved in a nailbiter eith three minutes left? Vegas will probably bend me over the poker table and slam it's large neon cock in my hole, but I'm taking the points.
TAMPA BAY -3.5 OVER NEW ORLEANS
Man, the Bucs offense impressed me in the fourth quarter against the Bears. They're going to put up 30 against the Saints and I just don't see how America's Team will stay with them.
WASHINGTON -3 OVER ST. LOUIS
Remember the cinderella known as Ryan Fitzpatrick? It's midnight.
PHILADELPHIA +4 OVER SEATTLE
I think the Eagles win outright and here's why: I don't think Seattle is really that good. I don't think they have the linebackers to defend the Andy Reid screen-pass-running game. And I think Jim Johnson and that defense are going to make life as hard on Shaun Alexander as they did on Ladainian Tomlinson.
...and now the four big games of the week...
ATLANTA +3 OVER CAROLINA
I have not been able to get a read on this game all week. I don't think either team is going to run the ball particularly well. I don't think either team is going to throw the ball particularly well. And I think both teams play pretty good special teams. So I found a matchup I like and it's Michael Vick's legs versus the Panthers linebacking corps - they don't have the Brooks or Urlachers to chase him down.
DENVER -1 OF KANSAS CITY
I am usually late to the bandwagon but not here. Denver is going to run right over Kansas City and dicate the entirety of this game. The Pats are not the Pats anymore and Trent Green will not be looking at open receivers all over the field this week.
CINCINNATI +3.5 OVER PITTSBURGH
I watched the "physical" Steelers play a soft game Monday night and the Bengals offense is rolling. 37 two weeks ago. 42 last week. The Colts showed how to beat the Steelers: drop back and throw right at them. Soften them up and then run for first downs. Keep them off-balance all day. I think the Bengals know this: win Sunday and win the division. How much more motivation do you need?
NEW YORK GIANTS -3 OVER DALLAS
The Giants defense might be a bit underrated and especially their defensive ends. Outside of Brown and Ogunleye and Chicago, no two defensive ends are playing better than Strahan and Osi Yakamotouraldjjlduura. Drew Bledsoe. Under pressure. Road game. Interceptions. Loss.
Bet with me this week, kids. I feel the mojo.