Favored at Home Again: The Penultimate Game Preview of the 2023 Season

| December 29th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?







The Football Bit

I got nothing.

How many times can I write the same thing about Justin Fields?

How many times can I write the same thing about Matt Eberflus?

Sometimes a season just needs to end and that is definitively the case for the 2023 Chicago Bears. This season needs to end, and the organization needs to make their decisions at quarterback and coach. Nothing will change this coming Sunday. Nothing will change the Sunday after.

I hope the Bears beat the Falcons because winning is more fun than losing and they already are guaranteed a top two pick in the draft. That is the entirety of what’s at stake at Soldier Field, a potentially fun afternoon.

The Movie Bit

Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is one of the most remarkable films I have ever seen.

First, a plot summary, in the briefest sense. The film is a domestic drama, but the domicile in question is the home of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, situated directly outside the high walls of the concentration and extermination camp in question. Throughout the film, we engage the Höss family as if they were any other German family, i.e. the stress of visiting in-laws, the drama of a work transfer, etc. We watch in detail as Rudolf, the family’s patriarch, locks the doors and turns out the lights each evening. We see birthday cakes and visits to the local creek for recreation.

We never see the atrocities of the camp. But throughout the film, we hear constant reminders of what is happening inside those walls. Gun shots. Screams. The most horrifying cinematic soundscape I can remember.

There will be time, years, to discuss this film further. Glazer might be the modern Kubrick; he’s made three other films (Sexy Beast, Birth, Under the Skin) and each is brilliant. But for now, I want to use this space to encourage you to find Zone of Interest and sit with it. It is a film that questions the very nature of how we construct narratives of history, and how those narratives are consumed. Glazer has said the film is “not a history lesson, it’s a warning.” That warning haunts me.

This is the film of the year.

The Dick Butkus Bit

The Stats Bit

  • The top five teams in points allowed this season are Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco, Buffalo, Dallas. Those are most likely five of the seven best defenses in the league, adding the Browns and Jets into the mix. Sixth in points allowed, however, is Atlanta, arguably the most underrated defense in the game. And over their last four games, they’ve allowed 15 points or less three times.
  • Atlanta has rushed it 473 times, second most in the league. Chicago has rushed it 472 times, third most. Whatever the over/under is for total passing yards in the game, take the under.
  • Justin Fields has a quarterback rating of 84.5. That is lower than Tommy DeVito, Nick Mullens, and Atlanta’s Sunday starter, Taylor Heinecke. Do the Bears have a quarterbacking advantage Sunday?

The Prediction Bit

This game is going to be a grind. I think the Falcons will find success running the ball, if only because they will commit to it, but they’ll be mostly settling for field goals. (They kicked five against Indianapolis last week.) I can see a similar outcome for the Bears, but they have a serious advantage: Fields’ ability on the ground. This is a game where every first down will be pivotal and Fields’ ability to move the chains with his legs will give the Bears a slight advantage.

Chicago Bears 19, Atlanta Falcons 16

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