Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
And this young 2021 campaign has been building to the Packers, and Justin Fields, at Soldier Field. If the Bears win, the fan march back into the city will look like this:
(I realize those who drive to Soldier Field have never experienced this walk but it is truly one of the most unique, remarkable things about the experience. Win or lose, it’s always amazing.)
So often, these Packers games can be approached with a sense of resignation. Everything feels like it has to go right for the Bears to beat Aaron Rodgers. Khalil Mack wrecks the game. Lose. Defense holds Rodgers to 10 points. Still lose. It is obvious the Bears will be out-gunned at quarterback when these teams play but too often they have felt outplayed at the 21 other positions, and out-maneuvered on the sideline. Honestly, it hasn’t been a fair fight.
This fight is fair. The Packers are not the Packers. They struggle to run the ball. They are a bit one-trick on the outside, with Davante Adams pulling away from the field when it comes to targets. And injuries to Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander have rendered what was an ascending defense to the realm of gettable. (Kevin King may also be out this week.) They are still the best team in the NFC North, and overwhelming favorites to win this division, but they also could have easily lost to both the Niners and Bengals. What would we be saying about this team if they were 2-3 right now?
Why not now, Bears? Why not roll this two-game winning streak into Soldier Field and beat your oldest rival? Why not ride the crowd energy created by this young quarterback to a franchise-invigorating victory? Why not make the statement that, “Hey, we might not have the weapons or corners of the best teams in the league but we’re coming and coming soon”?
This is likely to be Rodgers’ last game in Soldier Field as the Packers quarterback. Why not make his swan song a dirge?
Stats of the Week
- Hinted at this yesterday but the Bears and Packers are oddly close in a lot of defensive statistical rankings. They are 8th/6th in yards allowed, 12th/10th in passing yards allowed, 14th/16th in opposing passer rating and 12th/11th in rushing yards allowed. The big defensive gaps are sacks (18-10 Bears) and points allowed (20 Bears, 24.4 Packers).
- The Packers blitz on 25.7% of opponent drop backs; the league’s 14th highest rate. The Bears blitz on 15.7%; only three teams blitz less. For a game that will come down to pressuring the quarterback, these numbers seem pertinent.
- First downs.
- The Bears have 38 first downs on the ground. (8th in the league) The Packers have 25. (23rd in league)
- The Packers have 67 first downs through the air. (11th in league) The Bears are dead last with 35. They simply have to get more creative in short yardage.
Thoughts on Not Drinking
Years ago I wrote a longform piece about taking time off the drink, titled Diary of a Boozer (Off the Booze). You can visit the link for the post HERE or download the PDF right HERE. For someone who drinks a lot, taking an extended break from it can feel like an earth-shattering experience.
This is my first break since Covid, a period of time that accelerated my drinking to ridiculous levels. When you live in New York City and every single cultural advantage to living in that city, every single reason you live there is taken away at once, it’s not hard to make frozen margaritas in the park a daily thing at 4 PM.
Here are some new things I have learned, three weeks through this six-week booze sabbatical.
- Golf is a major trigger. All of my previous breaks have been in the dead of winter so golf was not a factor. I have learned that walking off the 18th green – especially after a good round – instinctively makes me want to sit at a bar and down five pints of ice cold beer. Only twice in these three weeks have I truly been tested. Both times were in the grill room of a golf course.
- The sugar cravings are real. The last few nights I have been eating a bowl of coffee ice cream with frozen M&M peanuts tossed into the mix. I don’t think I’ve ever completely understood the amount of sugar I’m consuming in those 24 oz. Coors Banquets.
- “Reluctant Appreciation”. That’s the phrase I have invented to describe how other drinkers respond when you take one of these breaks. They want you out drinking with them but fundamentally they understand the importance of giving the body a break.
- The secret weapon: Saturday night plans. Lady Scully and I saw a Greek film Saturday night, followed by a Greek dinner in Astoria. This Saturday we’re seeing Todd Haynes’ new Velvet Underground documentary. Next Saturday the new Wes Anderson picture. All tickets booked. All dinner reservations made. Sundays are easy with football on all day. Saturdays are a hard day not to drink.
Not drinking is not something drinkers can just do. It is something that requires preparation, planning and discipline. But it makes the return to drinking far more enjoyable. Looking forward to Halloween.
Bold Bears Prediction
Aaron Rodgers has thrown 10 interceptions in his 20-5 career against the Bears. (It feels like the Bears have dropped another 10.) That comes out to .4 interceptions per game. Rodgers will throw two picks this Sunday – one to Jaylon Johnson and one to Eddie Jackson (who needs it) on a tipped ball by Roquan Smith.
Tweet of the Week
The TD throw & catch from Justin Fields to Jesper Horsted almost looked fake. Even Raiders #21 Robertson couldn’t believe it. pic.twitter.com/pwCFMtJL3L
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) October 11, 2021
Outcome #1. Bears can’t contain the deep passing game, or muster enough on offense, and lose the kind of game they always lose to Aaron Rodgers. Call it 27-13.
Outcome #2. Bears pass rush rises to the occasion and Justin Fields has his breakout game (statistically) at quarterback. Something like 22-29, 309 yards, 2 TDs passing, 1 TD rushing.
Call me a cockeyed optimist but I’m leaning on the latter.
Chicago Bears 24, Green Bay Packers 20