There will be column writing from me throughout the season, but I am going to relegate most of my work to these game previews. I’m incredibly proud of the consistently excellent work being produced under the Schmitz regime at DBB and I hope I’ll now be able add some of my own flavor to the mix.
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
Paul Schrader argues, in his seminal essay on film noir, that the “genre” is unique to America, and specifically to a post-war period (mid 40s to late 50s) that found a generation of heroic men returning from war to an uncertain future, and unsure identity. But as we commemorate the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 on Monday, it is interesting to look at a series of films made in New York City in the years after those attacks as questioning not only what it means to be a man in a post-traumatic environment, but also what it means to be the city unfairly targeted as representative of a national political identity to which it often did not and does not ascribe.
There are four films I would recommend looking at in this regard.
25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
Unfaithful (Adrian Lyne, 2002)
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007)
Before the Devil Know You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
As this is a topic for a broader research project of mine, I will not wallow in the weeds here. But these are four films that I consider four of the best of this century. If you’re interested in the aforementioned discussion, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chicago Bears shouldn’t be favored to win the NFC North, but they certainly have a shot to take what is now a weak division. The Lions are the favorites, and rightfully so, but Detroit missed a major opportunity to improve at key positions and further separate themselves from the rest of the division. The Minnesota Vikings are the defending champions, but their limp to the finish line brings up many questions. And the Packers, well, where do we start?
These are things Ryan Poles was surely looking at when he told The Athletic the team should contend for the NFC North. Here’s a quick snapshot at each of the teams and why the Bears could top them.
There’s a lot to like about the Detroit Lions but that can be found all over the internet. In short, the Lions had a top-five offense in 2022 and their defense allowed a hair over 20 points per game in the second half of the year. They finished 8-2 with convincing wins over the Vikings and Packers.
But there are issues with the Lions that are largely going ignored.
We can comfortably assume Detroit’s defense will improve, after being bottom-five in both scoring and yardage last year. How much is a bit of a mystery, though. They made some improvements in the secondary but spent a first-round pick on an inside linebacker — a position that wasn’t a strength, but also not necessarily a weakness.
On paper, the Lions should be favored to win the NFC North. But it isn’t hard to see why that might not happen.
The Bears have had the ball with a chance to win three times in the last five weeks and have fallen short every time. But anybody suggesting that means the young quarterback is incapable of leading the team to wins in those situations is misguided. There is no question that at some point the Bears and Justin Fields have to come through with game-winning scores. There is also no question that can develop with experience.
Turn back the clock a handful of years and you’ll see that in Aaron Rodgers’ first season as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, the team went 1-7 in one-score games. Worse yet, they had chances to win most of those games only to fall short.
On Oct. 5, 2008, the Packers had the ball trailing 20-17 against Atlanta with about seven minutes left only for Rodgers to throw an interception. Atlanta went on to score a touchdown and won 27-14. Less than a month later, the Packers had the ball with a chance to break a 16-16 tie but punted. Tennessee missed the game-winning field goal in regulation, only to make it in overtime.
On Nov. 30, the Packers had the ball, trailing Carolina by four before a Rodgers interception. They were tied with Houston the next week but had to punt and the Texans won the game on the next possession. It became three straight weeks in which Rodgers failed to deliver as they had the ball trailing 20-16 before a Jacksonville Jaguars interception essentially ended the game.
8:00 PM ET
Thoughts on a day of watching football and researching Hitchcock’s silent stage adaptations.
8:16 PM ET
“I’ve been waiting all day for Sunday night” is one of the most ridiculous football concepts around. Other than the fans of the two teams, nobody waits all day for Sunday Night Football. If anything, most NFL fans are exhausted by kickoff. (People forget this slot used to be occupied by a throwaway game for years.)
8:18 PM ET
“The most played rivalry in the history of the National Football League.”
Is that a compliment?
8:24 PM ET
8:26 PM ET
I would like to preemptively apologize for tonight’s minute-by-minute. I am pretty damn tired and I’m old now and these games feel super late to me. I shall do my best and try to land a few barbs.
8:27 PM ET
Aaron Rodgers looks like Aaron Rodgers.
8:32 PM ET
Angelo Blackson makes a great play in the backfield and then stands over the back. He luckily avoided an unsportsmanlike penalty for taunting. That is being called all over the league. Needs to be coached into these guys pronto.
8:36 PM ET
Kyler Gordon makes a brilliant play on the football, and Trevis Gipson follows that with a sack. That is the kind of sequence fans need to see this year. Young players developing is the primary story of this campaign. Some very good signs through one game and one drive.
I’m posting these to DBB because over the course of the season, I find myself constantly searching out data like this. Figure it’s easier to store right here on the site.
Thought: Green Bay actually feels a bit undervalued at that number. Barring a Rodgers injury, they are winning the division.
Thought: The Giants have near identical odds to win their division as the Raiders do to win theirs. Just shows you how awful this division looks to be on paper. If the Cowboys weren’t such a national entity, they’d have plus odds.
Thought: What is there to say? On paper, this is the greatest divisional mismatch in the sport. It is Tom Brady vs. three teams that struck out on Deshaun Watson.
Thought: San Francisco is the team I’m most wary of at this stage because Trey Lance absolutely disappeared in 2021. (They had packages for him early in the year.) Is he going to be ready to be the starting quarterback in 2022? Has the bridge been burned with Jimmy G? Too many questions for odds like that.
Thought: Deshaun. Watson.
Atlantic City at 40 (Original Photo)
Last week, the guide was actually about gambling (i.e., trying to make money) and my slips in Atlantic City proved that advice to be solid. This week, I’m going to try and nail all eight general bets. That’s every spread and every over/under. Will I achieve that? Of course not. But it’s a worthy endeavor.
As always, all lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.
4:30 PM ET
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) – Over/Under 47
8:15 PM ET
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-6) – Over/Under 47
3:00 PM ET
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) – Over/Under 48.5
6:30 PM ET
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) – Over/Under 54