You can visit the band above’s Spotify page by CLICKING HERE.
Three Things I Think Will Happen Sunday:
Dallas Cowboys 20, Chicago Bears 10
They are coming off a truly surprising victory on Monday, so it seems silly to ask…
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?
There is, quite literally, no reason to overwrite the game preview this week. The game is going to be decided by the answer to single question: can the Bears block the Cowboys? And to this point in the season, no one has.
Dallas has 91 pressures, 12 more than the next team.
They have a pressure percentage of 32.6%, tops in the sport.
They have 29 sacks, averaging more than four per game: again, best in the league.
This is a matchup that should be expected to wreck the game. The Bears have a banged up offensive line, and their healthy offensive line weren’t particularly good pass blockers anyway.
This is also the most significant challenge Luke Getsy and Justin Fields have faced all season. And I list them as a duo intentionally, because the Bears won’t move the football or contend Sunday if the two men are not operating with a singular, cohesive plan.
Getsy needs to structure the offense around protection. Keep Cole Kmet on the edge, employ an extra lineman, etc. But he also needs to exploit what will certainly be a salivating pass rush. This is the week to use the screen game as a weapon and, if possible, get Velus Jones into the scheme, because his speed could keep Dallas somewhat off-balance.
Fields needs to understand that (a) he will be under consistent duress and (b) he can’t let that duress cause game-ending mistakes. He needs to take the easy throw, even when the easy throw is into the fourth row. When the pocket is collapsing, he needs to quickly use his legs and get what he can on the ground. Waiting for wide receivers to get open Sunday will lead to a replication of the Cleveland game a year ago. These receivers need ages to get open and Fields won’t have ages in the pocket.
If the Bears find a way to block the Cowboys, even half-decently, they can win Sunday. But that will be their most difficult task undertaken this season.
I’ve tried to calm myself down and think about the loss to the Cowboys logically. But I can’t help but come to the same conclusion I came to while watching the game: this team is suffering from coaching malpractice.
Any team missing their three best defensive players and starting quarterback is going to struggle. Add to the fact that those three defensive players were all playing in the front seven and they were going against the team with the best offensive line in the league and a blowout makes sense.
But I don’t give a shit about any of that.
The Bears should’ve been blown out several times last year, but they weren’t.
They weren’t because they fought.
They weren’t because they either had a sound game plan or adjusted well.
They weren’t because their coaching was a legitimate advantage.
That isn’t the case right now and I’m not sure what the answer is.
Steelers +7 over Patriots
Line just feels too high for a week one match-up between two fairly decent teams. Patriots 24, Steelers 21.
Bills +3 over Colts
My favorite mismatch of the first week is the Bills defensive line against the Colts offensive line. Andrew Luck is in the conversation for best player in the sport but I continue to argue that his coach is mediocre and the roster construction around him is poor. Bills win outright. Bills 16, Colts 14.
Cowboys -6 over Giants
Historically, nobody has been wronger about a team as I have about the New York Giants. So my instincts you should me to ignore my instincts entirely and pick them to win the Super Bowl. But not with that defensive roster and not with the questions along their offensive front. Cowboys 27, Giants 20.
Season Record: 0-0
Doesn’t seem like any news will be breaking on the GM/head coach front over the next 48 hours but if it does I will be on top of it. In the meantime, as always, follow DBB on Twitter by CLICKING HERE.
(1) I was once, as a younger man, in New Orleans for Halloween with the great Lou Casillas and a reverend who used to spend some time around here. New Orleans for any night is the greatest party of your life but on Halloween its a special party. In my infinite wisdom I booked a flight back to New York early the next morning – the worst morning of my life. That was a Saturday. I returned to my friend Lou’s apartment and fell fast asleep, at 3 pm, in the same clothes I’d flown in. Sunday morning I awoke to the knowledge of the Bears playing the Detroit Lions, realized I’d need to be in a bar to watch it and thought, “Ugh.” That was the last time BEFORE THIS MORNING I felt that way the morning of a Bears game.
This space has mentioned often of late the Bears climb in the defensive rankings from 32nd in 2013 to 12th in 2014 against the run. It is the most significant improvement of this year’s team, owed to a much improved defensive line. Per the great Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News:
…this December has a chance to be different because the Cowboys are equipped to play a game they haven’t known since the Super Bowl era.
When the weather turns in December — the cold blows in, the wind kicks up and moisture thickens the air — you need to run the football.
The Jimmy Johnson Cowboys ran the ball in December in carving a place in history as the NFL’s team of the 1990s. From 1992-95, when the Cowboys appeared in four NFC title games and won three Super Bowls, they ran the ball almost 52 percent of the time in the month of December.
The Jason Garrett Cowboys have run the ball only 41 percent of the time in the final month of the season in his four seasons.
Sure, the Cowboys had both the best running back and best offensive line in the NFL during their Super Bowl era. Emmitt Smith won three NFL rushing titles from 1992-95, and the Cowboys sent six different blockers to Pro Bowls.
And that’s why there is hope for December 2014. The Cowboys again have arguably the best running back and offensive line in the NFL.
Even though the Bears secondary has been a disgrace in 2014 I expect the Cowboys to put this game on Demarco Murray’s shoulders to avoid putting it on Tony Romo’s back. Can the Bears defense hold up? (I’m actually borderline interested in this result.)