For the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching at home…
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
What Do We Make of Week One?
No one has ever seen a Luke Getsy-run offense.
No one has ever seen a Matt Eberflus program in action.
No one has ever seen Trey Lance play starting quarterback in the NFL.
No one actually knows what the football game being played Sunday at Soldier Field will look like. But here’s what we do know about these two teams: one (the road team) almost made the Super Bowl last season and the other (the home team) didn’t come close. And that seems to be the basis for the seven-point spread on the game.
But what a dramatic matchup for the opener. And the entirety of the football world, intelligently or not, will see the contest as Lance vs. Justin Fields.
Lance spent the entire 2021 season on the bench, after a few early cameos. The Niners are a popular preseason pick to make the Super Bowl but that will be wholly dependent on his performance. (And the team has a built-in insurance policy with the re-signing of Jimmy Garoppolo.) There are folks inside the building in San Francisco that aren’t sold on the young signal caller. Might that change after Sunday?
Fields had a terrible rookie season, primarily due to mismanagement from the whole of the Bears’ football operation. His mechanics have been altered. His confidence has grown. And his performance in the third preseason game was a line of optimism cocaine for a city of football addicts. The Nagy narrative has spared Fields any high-profile criticism for his rookie performance. Starting Sunday, the performances land solely on his (hopefully broad) shoulders.
Tweet of the Week (Kinda)
Throwback to Deebo Samuel saving the #49ers season last year against the Bears
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) September 3, 2022
Three Things the Bears Need for an Upset
- Keep the Niner pass rush off balance. San Francisco had one of the league’s most dominant pass rushers (Nick Bosa) in 2021 and ranked sixth in total sacks. This is a group that gets to the quarterback, or at least they did last season, and Fields will have a difficult afternoon if the Bears don’t (a) get some semblance of a running game going and (b) stay ahead of the chains on early downs.
- Limit big plays on defense. Deebo Samuel’s 85-yard bubble screen touchdown last season (video above) saved the Niners season and stated very clearly the Bears were not a good football team. The Bears need to Lovie Smith this game. They need to force the Niners into long drives and, more importantly, they need to force their young quarterback to consistently execute for the length of the field. First start. Hostile, excited crowd. Intense pressure/scrutiny. It is likely Lance will make a few game-changing mistakes.
- Said a friend in the league, via text: “Bears needs to drop 8 and force Lance to win with his arm. Otherwise just confuse the shit out of him.”
- Execute in the kicking game.
- Missed field goals could be the difference if this game is tight and Robbie Gould won’t be missing at Soldier Field.
- Trenton Gill has looked the part at punter all summer, but rookie are rookies until they aren’t rookie any longer. If you’re expecting Gill to be a dominant punter early, you’re violating the rules of rookie expectations.
- The Niners did very little with returns a season ago, so the Bears could have an advantage in the return game, especially with the unknown commodity of Velus Jones’ speed.
Stats of the Week
I wanted to find three stats where these teams had the greatest divide in 2021. If you’re looking for the reasons they had vastly different campaigns last season, these should point you in the right direction. Unsurprisingly, they are all on offense.
- Team quarterback rating:
- Niners 99.2
- Bears 75.5
- Third down percentage (offense):
- Niners 14th
- Bears 32nd
- Total plays run:
- Niners 5th
- Bears 31st
The Bears need to run more plays, find more efficiency in the passing attack and execute on third downs. Easy enough, right?
My Five Favorite Football Movies
It is the world’s best television sport. And it is quite possibly cinema’s worst. Most football films are either cloying (Rudy), preachy nonsense (Remember the Titans) or just plain silly (Varsity Blues). The comedies are okay.
(5) Little Giants (1994)
(4) 30 for 30: The U (2009)
(3) The Replacements (2000)
(2) Friday Night Lights (2004)
(1) Go Tigers! (2001)
This feels like a 1980s, grind it out, Madden and Summerall, proper NFC ballgame.
Chicago Bears 19, San Francisco 49ers 17