Four games. I’ll give you a bet for each. (All odds courtesy of DraftKing Sportsbook.)
Saturday 3:35 PM Central
Bills at Texans (-2.5)
My heart is all-in for the boys from 716 but Josh Allen, facing a good pass rush, on the road, terrifies me. Look for Allen to use his legs a bunch in this one but I still don’t see Buffalo producing enough offense. If this line were a point higher, I’d go the other way. Begrudging Bet: Houston -2.5.
Saturday 7:15 PM Central
Titans at Patriots (-5)
Bill Belichick will go into this game with a one-track mind. If the Patriots stop Derrick Henry, they win. But Henry has quietly become the best back in football and New England struggles upfront against these bruising-type runners. I don’t know if Tennessee wins this game but I like them to keep it close. Bet: Tennessee +5.
Sunday 12:05 PM Central
Vikings at Saints (-8)
I thought the Saints were in the best team in football in 2017. They lost in the playoffs on a ridiculous play.
I thought the Saints were the best team in football in 2018. They lost in the playoffs on a ridiculous call.
I think the Saints are the best team in football in 2019. They’re not losing to Kirk Cousins. Bet: New Orleans -8.
I was sitting on a stool at The Copper Kettle, my local in Woodside, Queens, and a liquored up friend of mine, a mumbling Irishman known as “Mel” who loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, turned my way. “You know I think you’re going to the Super Bowl,” he said, referring to the Chicago Bears. He actually said, “Joe, binky broofer soul” but I got where his brain was going.
I did what I always do when that particular suggestion is made (and it’s happening more often these days). “We’ll see,” I said. It wasn’t a response out of modesty or fan humility. It wasn’t an attempt to avoid a jinx. In other words, it wasn’t bullshit. It was about altering expectations. That can take time.
I came into this season, especially after the acquisition of Khalil Mack, believing the Bears could weasel their way into the postseason if the quarterback and offense came along by midseason. After watching the Bears dismantle the Vikings from a Paris hotel room in the middle of the night, those expectations changed to a division title. The Bears were clearly the best team in the NFC North. They needed to finish the season atop the table. They did.
Now, with two weeks to go in the regular season, there are only a pair of teams in the NFC with better records than the Bears: the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. And I’m no longer convinced the Bears can’t beat both of them. In any building.
It is nice to have such thoughts in December.
It’s been a long time. A long, long time. In 2013 the Bears had a chance to make the playoffs over the final month but they were 6-6 at this stage and a definitive mediocrity. Per Football Outsiders, the Bears have an 85.1% chance to win the NFC North and a 96.3% chance of making the postseason. This is the kind of piece I’ve wanted to write for a long, long, long time.
Bears (8-4) are home to the Rams and Packers, followed by at Niners and Vikings.
Vikings (6-5-1) are at Seahawks, home to the Dolphins, at Lions, home to the Bears.
*Note: If the Bears are competing for a wildcard spot, one must assume the Vikings have won the NFC North. So we can leave them out of this equation.*
The offense is a work-in-progress. The defense is the most exciting unit the Bears have fielded since 2006. The Bears evened their season record at 1-1 and quieted some of their Week One demons. Here’s a rapid fire recap of Monday night’s events.
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/jpB3T2dkBz
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2018
RIP me pic.twitter.com/z8QzbsrZ0T
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) September 18, 2018
Photo by Otto Greule Jr of Getty Images
The Bears host the Seattle Seahawks tonight and, since I’m DBB’s resident Pacific Northwest dweller, who better to share some last minute pregame thoughts? So here it goes:
I’m still stinging from last week’s loss (and you probably are, too) but let’s hope the Bears have moved on…
There’s no way to get around it: Last week hurt. No team should blow a 20-point lead, even if they’re facing one of the greatest QBs of all time. It was a missed opportunity to start the season with a statement win, but in the end Green Bay just found a different way to break our collective hearts. That being said, Week One needs to be the last thing on the Bears’ mind when they run out onto Soldier Field tonight. I’ve mentioned my love of tennis and Roger Federer before, and one of the things that makes him great is his fantastic ability to erase painful losses from his memory. He learns, but he doesn’t dwell. Let’s hope the Bears take the same approach.
The last time the Bears played the Seahawks was 2015 in Seattle. It was the 3rd game of John Fox’s tenure, and Jimmy Clausen was starting in place of an injured Jay Cutler. The Bears lost 26-0. (I don’t care enough to check, but I’m pretty sure the Bears only managed one first down the entire game.) I watched with a handful of Seahawks fans, and honestly it was so pathetic they couldn’t even muster the energy to make fun of me. Regardless of how disappointing last week’s loss was, it doesn’t hurt to remember that things used to be much, much worse.
This game feels about as “must win” for the Bears as any Week 2 game could…
The Bears have the more talented roster going into tonight’s game, and that was true even before Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, and KJ Wright were declared out, with several other key Seahawks players listed as doubtful. If the Bears can’t manage a win at home against a rebuilding and busted up Seattle team, then we might be in for a much rougher season than any of us were expecting.
The Bears had no business losing to the Packers Sunday night. The team knows it. Their fans know it. Hell, even the folks in Green Bay would admit it if you asked them. It required a perfect storm of fine play (Rodgers) and horrible mistakes (Bears). That storm came. And it bloweth the club from Chicago to an 0-1 record to start their 2018 campaign.
Now they must rebound. Mitch Trubisky must rebound from the shaky mess that was his late-game performance. Kyle Fuller must rebound from dropping an interception that would have (a) been the easiest of his career and (b) won the football game. Matt Nagy must rebound from some head-scratching decisions on the sideline. (Those decisions have led to the coach receiving his first dose of criticism in Chicago.)
Next up is a “rebuilding” Seattle at Soldier Field. Followed by a road trip to a bad Arizona team – where half the building will be Chicago transplants – and a home affair with Ryan Fitzmagic. If the Bears finish the first quarter of their season at 2-2 there will be little conversation about the opening night collapse at Lambeau. If they finish the first quarter 3-1, the opener will be little more than an aberration, an isolated storm cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky. For those of you thinking this is a “pie in the sky” approach, you should take note the Bears will likely be favored in all three of these games.
Adversity defines character. And while a team would prefer not facing much of it over the course of their season, it is inevitable. Injuries. Bad penalties. Missed chip shots. Blown leads. These things happen. The Bears blew a game against their oldest rival on the national stage of Sunday Night Football. It sucked. But it’s also presented them with an opportunity to prove their mettle. To show one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports this is not “the same old Bears”.
That starts Monday night. Against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Nagy Bears have an opportunity to change the conversation. But only one thing achieves that goal: winning.