Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?
On the Potentiality of an Interesting Season
Pretend Matt Eberflus’ brain didn’t turn to hot soup against the Denver Broncos and the Bears won that ballgame. The team would be 2-3, on the periphery of the wildcard conversation, with a chance to win their third straight against a Justin Jefferson-less Minnesota Vikings this Sunday. This would be a massive contest.
But Eberflus’ brain did turn to split pea, and this is not a massive contest. But that doesn’t mean it is unimportant. Just remember, if the Bears win Sunday, they will be 2-4, with a mediocre Raiders team coming to town next week, bringing with them a big, shiny opportunity to be 3-4. And isn’t hovering around .500 with an improving Justin Fields exactly what most of us expected from this campaign?
The Bears could not lose that Broncos game. And they did. Because of that, they needed to win the next three in order to insert relevance into their season.
Minnesota. [ ]
Los Angeles [ ]
Stats of the Week
- Bears have started solving their run game, increasing their average to north of 130 yards per game in recent weeks. That is 50 yards more per game on the ground than Minnesota averages. This is Chicago’s most significant advantage.
- The Vikings and Steelers are the only teams in the NFL without a rushing touchdown.
- Justin Jefferson is 6th in catches, 3rd in total yards, 1st in big plays. His absence cannot be overstated; he is the best player on this team by a significant margin and it is a huge advantage for the Bears that he won’t be playing. Minnesota still has receiving talent, especially TJ Hockenson and Jordan Addison, but those players should prove far more manageable without Jefferson on the field.
- Only one quarterback has thrown more touchdown passes than Justin Fields: Kirk Cousins.
First Pick Power Rankings
(5) Minnesota Vikings. The fifth spot seems a tight race between the Cardinals and Vikings but, as you’ll see below, I believe the Bears are going to beat Minnesota this week and thrust the purple fellas up north firmly into this conversation. (I also think the Cardinals are feisty and should actually improve if/when Kyler Murray returns to the field.) Without Justin Jefferson, it is impossible to know what the Vikings will look like over the next month.
(4) New England Patriots. Thir quarterback is a nightmare. Their offensive line has collapsed. Their defense, which was supposed to carry them, has lost its two best players for the season. And their legendary head coach is now taking 30-point losses weekly. Could Robert Kraft identify 2023 as the end of the Belichick era and trade off any viable assets before the deadline?
(3) Denver Broncos. What if the Bears end up with the first pick in the draft, for the second consecutive season, because of their coach’s malpractice in a ridiculous loss to the Broncos? It is not outside the realm of possibility that Denver’s win in Chicago will cost them the top spot next spring.
(2) New York Giants. The Giants outscored the Cardinals 31-8 in the second half of their near-miraculous comeback victory a few weeks ago. Brian Daboll’s boys have been outscored 145-31 in their remaining nine halves. This is the worst team in the league. They are noncompetitive, and now they are stacking injuries at key positions.
(1) Chicago Bears via Carolina Panthers. I happen to think the Bears will win too many games to be relevant for this pick, but the Panthers will not. Two stories have come out re: the Panthers that should be concerning for Carolina fans. The Panthers leaked to the national media they are in the market for a number one wide receiver, and Frank Reich had to almost defend owner David Tepper’s involvement in the program. This just isn’t a talented roster and as the losses stockpile, the frustrations will as well.
NOTE: You can have all the advanced stats you want, but here’s a fun fact: all six of the teams mentioned above are in the bottom ten when it comes to turnover differential. If you turn it over, you lose. That’s the sport.
Dick Butkus Video of the Week
The DBB Book Club
These are the titles of some of the remarkable texts I’ve read in recent months, and their Amazon links. I won’t write substantially about any of them but if you want to have a fuller discussion on any of them, don’t hesitate to email me: email@example.com.
– Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and The Wire (Mary Rizzo, Link)
– Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (Michael Stewart-Winter, Link)
– Neighborhood of Fear: The Surburban Crisis in America Culture, 1975-2001 (Kyle Rissmandel, Link)
– The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act (Isaac Butler, Link)
– Hollywood’s Embassies: How Movie Theaters Projected American Power Around the World (Ross Melnick, Link)
Bears win the toss and once again, take the ball. Long drive yields a field goal, but Fields continues to progress from the pocket, building on his last two performances. The run game also prospers from having the proper players at guard.
Vikings erroneously try and run the ball, but after three first quarter carries gain them only seven yards, they abandon that plan by the time the second quarter begins.
Early second quarter is all Vikings, with Kirk Cousins making easy completions all over the field. Bears lack of pass rush is just too easy for a good quarterback and Cousins, while flawed, is still a good quarterback.
Tied at the half.
Vikings score on the opening drive of the second half, but they subsequently struggle to get off the field on defense. Too much Bears ground game.
Bears take lead.
Vikings tie it up.
And with the game on the line, Justin Fields and the Bears offense use the final 1:13 to drive for the game-winning Cairo Santos field goal.
Chicago Bears 31, Minnesota Vikings 28