Previewing Chicago’s Final Exam…

| January 4th, 2024

Why would the year end any other way?

At this point, all that’s left is to see how the chips fall.

Nick & I take you through the matchups, the stakes, the ins, and the outs of what promises to be a massive Bears season finale in Lambeau on the latest episode of Bear With Us — check it out below.

Your Turn: How are you feeling about this weekend’s game?

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Previewing a Regime-Defining Trip to Cleveland

| December 14th, 2023

Four weeks ago, I wrote the following about the Bears’ trip to Detroit: “This game in Motown may be one of Matthew Eberflus’ last chances to show Chicago’s powers-that-be that the Bears are in good hands.” Since then, he’s shown exactly that.

This defense is playing with their eyes on fire, both by blitzing the QB fearlessly and dutifully executing assignments in coverage. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

This Chicago offense sputters at times, but between each sputter Justin Fields, DJ Moore, and Cole Kmet are producing explosive plays that move the ball down the field in the chunks they need to set up points for their defense.

Add the two units together, and you’ve got yourself a winning recipe. Because of that, against all odds, these Chicago Bears are in the playoff hunt.

But with a 5-8 record at this point in the year, the Bears need to win every game from here on out if they want to have any hopes at a playoff run — luckily, this weekend they face a Cleveland Browns team that’s been ravaged by injuries. As you’ll see below, they’re a team in rough shape.

Matt Eberflus has a chance to send Chicago into a frenzy by beating a weakened team on the road and kickstarting a playoff push — everything is on the line for Eberflus from here on out, and I expect him to coach like it. That should make for some exciting Bears football, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Nick and I dive into this topic and plenty more within the latest episode of Bear With Us, including…

  • Where do the Bears match up well with Cleveland on defense? What weak links in the Browns’ offense can they exploit?
  • How does Chicago’s offense match up with what’s left of Cleveland’s defense? How well does the Bears’ offense really need to perform?
  • A review of Matt Eberflus’ defense against the Lions, including the driving forces behind Chicago’s success.
  • A look at what Justin Fields was (and wasn’t) during last Sunday’s game
  • An outline of Chicago’s playoff scenarios, including the teams you’ll need to root for outside of Cleveland this weekend.
  • And much, much more…

It’s one of our best episodes yet — check it out and let me know what you think!

Your Turn: How do you feel about this weekend?

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Stock Up/Stock Down, Teven Jenkins, and a Small Vikings Preview

| October 12th, 2023

5 weeks of the Chicago Bears’ 2023 season has come and gone, and in that time we’ve seen unexpected leaders emerge in the locker room (Andrew Billings) as well as disappointing performances from players we’d hoped could be cornerstones (Tremaine Edmunds). But aside from those two names, where does the rest of the roster stack up coming out of the Mini-Bye?

To answer that, Nick and I officially opened the ‘Mini-Bye Chicago Bears Stock Exchange’ and gauged whether the stock of ~25 players has risen or fallen since the start of the season, including (but not limited to):

  • Teven Jenkins
  • Nate Davis
  • Darnell Mooney
  • Tremaine Edmunds
  • Justin Fields
  • Cole Kmet
  • Greg Stroman
  • Jaquan Brisker
  • Cody Whitehair
  • And much, much more

Afterwards, we previewed the Bears’ upcoming tilt with the Minnesota Vikings as well. It’s a hell of an episode of Bear With Us, so check it out and let me know what you think!

Plus, a few more things…

The Vikings defense is chaos embodied. Justin Fields is going to have his hands full on Sunday, because what the Vikings’ defense lacks in talent they attempt to make up for in crazy, kooky post-snap motion that should challenge Justin Fields’ eyes.

This chaos can create as many issues for Minnesota as it creates advantages, but after a week that saw Justin Fields and DJ Moore dominate based on pre-snap looks I’m curious to see how they’ll respond to a defense that challenges QBs to adjust post-snap.

Read More …

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Breaking Down The Matchups Within Packers @ Bears

| September 7th, 2023

There’s nothing quite like NFL Week 1, is there?

After months of roster additions, subtractions, and schematic changes, the NFL’s 32 Teams will finally take the field this weekend and show us who’s here to content, who’s here to pretend, and everything else in between.

But between you and me, 15 of the 16 NFL games scheduled for this weekend might as well not exist — the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at 3:25PM in the first game since Aaron Rodgers’ departure and it’s the only game on my mind.

How are the Bears going to attack the Packers’ defense? What are the Packers looking to do on offense? Moreover, who’s going to win? Nick Whalen & I put together a hell of a game preview on today’s episode of Bear With Us, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts in print. Let’s get into it.

Before the Teams Take the Field…

Keep an eye out for the Packers’ official Friday injury report. Explosive Packers WR Christian Watson was listed as a practice non-participant on Wednesday (hamstring injury), and if either he or WR Romeo Doubs (DNP — hamstring injury) can’t play on Sunday Jordan Love will be left throwing to rookies in his first 2023 NFL start.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t — with TE Tyler Davis already on IR, Love’s Sunday receiving weapons could consist of:

  • Rookie TE Luke Musgrave
  • Rookie TE Tucker Kraft
  • Rooke WR Jayden Reed
  • 2nd year (7th round pick) WR Samori Toure
  • Rookie WR Dontayvion Wicks, who was limited on Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury

The Packers also need OT David Bakhtiari (knee) and EDGE Rashan Gary (knee) to play big roles on Sunday’s game despite injury limitations, which may be difficult for each veteran based on what their bodies can do and where each player is within their recovery timeline.

If I had to guess, I expect one of the Packers’ 2nd year WRs to make it to gameday (likely Doubs, as his hamstring injury occurred before Green Bay’s 3rd preseason game), but the absence of even one 2nd year WR puts tremendous pressure on the Packers’ rookies to carry the offensive load on Sunday. And, as we’ve learned, featuring rookies can be a scary prospect.

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Week 15: Bears at Packers Game Preview

| December 12th, 2019

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I think they have something cooking right now.

How Things Stack Up

  • Aaron Rodgers is having a very interesting season.
    • His quarterback rating is north of 100 because it always will be. He doesn’t throw interceptions and interceptions are the rating killer. But his QBR is below Kyler Murray’s. And while QBR should not be used as any kind of definitive barometer, it is a nice additional tool to evaluate performance.
    • Rodgers simply hasn’t looked comfortable in this Matt LaFleur offense and the team is averaging 18.8 points per game over their last five. (The Bears are averaging 18.7 points per game this season.)
  • Pass defense is very hard to gauge statistically because garbage time greatly skews the numbers. But the Bears rank 4th in yards per completion against at 6.6. The Packers rank 25th in the same stat at 7.9. This is a pass defense that has shown tremendous vulnerability in recent weeks. (I bet them against the Giants and their defense simply couldn’t get off the field on ANY third downs.)
  • You want the most significant mismatch in this game, outside of quarterback? Mason Crosby is having an absolutely brilliant season. He’s 16/17 on field goals and hasn’t missed a kick since September. Eddy Pineiro is bad at his job. If this game is a close one, Green Bay advantage.
    • The advantage flips when it comes to the return game, however. The Packers rank last in punt return average and near the bottom of the league in kickoff returns. The Bears have the best return game in the league, even though Tarik Cohen’s decision making has been suspect. But when Cohen has the ball in his hands he’s still electric. And Cordarrelle Patterson is heading to the Pro Bowl.
  • Three column headlines from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tell the story of how the Packers are perceived locally:
  • Why are the Packers 10-3 and the Bears 7-6? In the NFL, turnovers often tell the tale. The Packers are +11. The Bears are +1. If the Bears can flip that script this week, they’ll win on the road.

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Week 14: Cowboys at Bears Game Preview & Poem

| December 4th, 2019

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and it would be a big moment for this coach and his program to get this season over .500. I think he does it.

The Game Haiku

I saw Rick Pearson

at the Billy Goat Tavern.

That’s all I recall.

Three Thoughts on the Cowboys

  • After struggling to contain Kenny Golladay a week ago, the Bears could have faced a similar issue with Amari Cooper. But the Cowboys’ best receiver didn’t finish their game on Thanksgiving and, while an MRI revealed no structural damage, he won’t be at full strength should he play. Guard Connor Williams, a really good young player, is done for the year.
    • From head coach Jason Garrett, in a Dallas Morning News story: “Connor has been a good player for us,” Garrett said. “[He] started a lot of games for us last year as a rookie and then came back after his injury, did a good job for us in the playoffs and again has been the established starter at that left guard spot all year long. He’s really grown and developed as a player and done a really good job for us, got bigger and stronger than he was his rookie year, [and] we expected that when we drafted him.”
  • The Cowboys were a solid, if unspectacular defense in 2018, as their coordinator Kris Richard became a name mentioned for several head coaching vacancies. Now his security in Dallas is uncertain, as Dallas has allowed 26 points or more in three of their last four games.
  • Let’s look at how these two teams compare with the big ticket numbers:
    • Both are 6-6.
    • The teams the Cowboys beaten are a combined 18-54. (Really, really bad.)
    • The teams the Bears have beaten are a combined 20-50-2 (Not so good either.)
    • The Cowboys point differential is +74, which tells you they are beating down the bad opponents and losing relatively close affairs (averaging 5.5 point deficit per loss) to better teams.
    • The Bears point differential is +4, which tells you they basically play a coin flip every week.
    • If the season ended today, the Cowboys would host a game on wildcard weekend.

Tweet of the Week (Another Cowboys Thought)

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