Bears at Vikings Monday Night Football Game Preview, Featuring the 2023 Christmas Movie Rankings!

| November 27th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?







Contextualizing 3-8 (It’s About the Head Coach)

Should the Bears have beaten the Broncos? Yes. They didn’t, because of the head coach.

Should the Bears have beaten the Lions? Yes. They didn’t, because of the head coach.

Mediocre work on the sidelines would have the Bears 5-6 this season, which is exactly where most of us believed they would be at the Thanksgiving holiday. But the coaching, specifically the work from head coach Matt Eberflus, is the reason the Bears are (well) behind their 2023 targets/expectations.

Will Justin Fields be the starting quarterback in 2024? Who knows, but clearly his performance against the Lions last week made some of his more vocal critics, including myself, leave that door slightly ajar. Personally, I just don’t care anymore. Bring him back, don’t bring him back, whatever. I think Fields is good enough to win games but not good enough to be the reason you win a championship. But Josh Allen can’t even get to an AFC Championship Game while Brock Purdy is throwing up perfect quarterback ratings in blowout victories…so maybe there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. I mean, would you rather have Fields or Jared Goff? I think I prefer Fields.

But Eberflus is never going to be a top head coach. That’s apparent on the sidelines almost every week. If the ceiling for Fields is “not the reason you win a championship,” the ceiling for Eberflus is .500.

The Christmas Movie Guide

This year, I’m going with ten films. Ten films only. I’ll be watching more than 40 Christmas movies over the next month, but it is time to make the difficult choices. It is hard to leave off films like Santa Claus the Movie and Jingle All the Way and Christmas with the Kranks and Noelle. It was not hard to leave off films I simply don’t like, including the perennial downer It’s a Wonderful Life and the wildly overrated A Christmas Story.

Three films worth noting here.

  • Klaus is slowly climbing into my top ten and would probably sit 11th currently.
  • While I believe White Christmas is a wonderful movie, it has almost nothing to do with his Christmas. It is a movie more about snow than Christmas.
  • I am not including A Very Murray Christmas, even though I will watch it at least a dozen times in the next month, because it’s not really a movie.

10. Scrooged (1988). The most beautifully written and performed speech in the Christas movie canon.

9. The Santa Clause (1994). The sequels are unwatchable, but the original is both sardonic and sweet hearted.

8. Die Hard (1988). I have gone back and forth on the “is Die Hard a Christmas movie” debate but I think Michael Kamen’s use of Silent Night in the score solidifies its standing in the corpus. It is the best movie on this list, but only the eighth best Christmas movie.

7. Home Alone (1990) *

*Home Alone 2 should be consumed for ironic purposes only, but it SHOULD be consumed. I will have a full game preview section on Home Alone 2 before Christmas. 

6. Scrooge (1970). A Christmas Carol is my favorite novel, and arguably my favorite story, period. And while some of the best actors to ever exist have taken on the lead role of Scrooge, no one has quite matched the pain and pathos of Albert Finney. He sweats out Scrooge on the screen. (And the musical numbers are sensational.) The film has finally been remastered and is streaming on Paramount+.

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). Is Rusty still in the Navy?

4. Miracle on 34th Street (1947). “I believe. I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.”

3. Elf (2003). The modern Christmas masterpiece.

2. The Ref (1994). Some of you live in a Folgers commercial: you return home each Christmas to a lovely house, with a big old tree, and everything is red sweaters and hugs. Some of us don’t. And that’s why this movie is pushing for the top spot.

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992). I first saw this movie in the theater when I was ten years old, and I think it’s very possible that I like it far more now. Make sure you watch the film with “When Love is Gone,” a song that Disney has cut from most editions because they quite literally have no idea what they are doing. To paraphrase The Big Lebowski, the song ties the movie together thematically.  (Also, here’s a cool video of the song’s recording session.)

Stats of the Week

  • Justin Fields currently ranks 13th in the league in quarterback rating. Fields is a flawed player, but he has a chance to tally solid production numbers this season and all-but guarantee himself an opportunity to compete for a starting job (somewhere) next season.
    • Tonight is a real opportunity for Fields to show growth. He was overwhelmed by Brian Flores’ pressure packages in the first meeting to an eye-opening degree. It’s often hard to measure the mental growth of a quarterback. It won’t be tonight.
  • Pass defense:
    • Vikings have 29 sacks / have allowed 15 passing TDs / allow opposing QBs a rating of 92.3.
    • Bears have 15 sacks / have allowed 22 passing TDs / allow opposing QBs a rating of 97.
      • Montez Sweat has been a terrific addition to the defense, but Ryan Poles must find 10-15 additional sacks in free agency and the draft. The Bears will not be a competitive program until they start consistently pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
  • When rushing the ball…
    • Bears have fourth best run offense. Vikings have seventh best run defense.
    • Vikings have 28th ranked run offense. Bears have second best run defense.
      • No advantage for Bears. Disadvantage for Vikings. The team that tosses it better tonight, wins. Again, this is a good litmus test for Fields.

Dick Butkus Video of the Week

Game Prediction

Call it a hunch, but I think Fields has an explosive night at quarterback and the Bears (surprisingly) win easy. This might look mighty foolish in the morning, but hey, that’s why they call it a hunch. I also don’t think Minnesota has the productivity available in the passing attack to exploit Chicago’s lack of pressure.

Chicago Bears 27, Minnesota Vikings 13

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