Bears at Vikings Monday Night Football Game Preview, Featuring the 2023 Christmas Movie Rankings!

| November 27th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?







Contextualizing 3-8 (It’s About the Head Coach)

Should the Bears have beaten the Broncos? Yes. They didn’t, because of the head coach.

Should the Bears have beaten the Lions? Yes. They didn’t, because of the head coach.

Mediocre work on the sidelines would have the Bears 5-6 this season, which is exactly where most of us believed they would be at the Thanksgiving holiday. But the coaching, specifically the work from head coach Matt Eberflus, is the reason the Bears are (well) behind their 2023 targets/expectations.

Will Justin Fields be the starting quarterback in 2024? Who knows, but clearly his performance against the Lions last week made some of his more vocal critics, including myself, leave that door slightly ajar. Personally, I just don’t care anymore. Bring him back, don’t bring him back, whatever. I think Fields is good enough to win games but not good enough to be the reason you win a championship. But Josh Allen can’t even get to an AFC Championship Game while Brock Purdy is throwing up perfect quarterback ratings in blowout victories…so maybe there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. I mean, would you rather have Fields or Jared Goff? I think I prefer Fields.

But Eberflus is never going to be a top head coach. That’s apparent on the sidelines almost every week. If the ceiling for Fields is “not the reason you win a championship,” the ceiling for Eberflus is .500.

The Christmas Movie Guide

This year, I’m going with ten films. Ten films only. I’ll be watching more than 40 Christmas movies over the next month, but it is time to make the difficult choices. It is hard to leave off films like Santa Claus the Movie and Jingle All the Way and Christmas with the Kranks and Noelle. It was not hard to leave off films I simply don’t like, including the perennial downer It’s a Wonderful Life and the wildly overrated A Christmas Story.

Three films worth noting here.

  • Klaus is slowly climbing into my top ten and would probably sit 11th currently.
  • While I believe White Christmas is a wonderful movie, it has almost nothing to do with his Christmas. It is a movie more about snow than Christmas.
  • I am not including A Very Murray Christmas, even though I will watch it at least a dozen times in the next month, because it’s not really a movie.

10. Scrooged (1988). The most beautifully written and performed speech in the Christas movie canon.

9. The Santa Clause (1994). The sequels are unwatchable, but the original is both sardonic and sweet hearted.

8. Die Hard (1988). I have gone back and forth on the “is Die Hard a Christmas movie” debate but I think Michael Kamen’s use of Silent Night in the score solidifies its standing in the corpus. It is the best movie on this list, but only the eighth best Christmas movie.

7. Home Alone (1990) *

*Home Alone 2 should be consumed for ironic purposes only, but it SHOULD be consumed. I will have a full game preview section on Home Alone 2 before Christmas. 

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Vikings at Bears Game Preview: A Potential Season, Pick Power Poll, Book Club, Another Win?

| October 13th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?







On the Potentiality of an Interesting Season

Thought experiment.

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.

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Dannehy: Trip Around the NFC North

| June 8th, 2023

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.

Detroit Lions

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.

  • They need quarterback Jared Goff to continue playing at a level at which he has not previously played.
  • They need him to do this while being shorthanded at wide receiver. Losing DJ Chark wasn’t supposed to be significant because Jameson Williams was going to fill the void, stretching the field vertically, but Williams has been suspended for six games for gambling. Without Chark’s speed on the field — he missed six games — the powerful Lions offense averaged fewer than 20 points per game last year.
  • The team made considerable investments in the running back position, but was that really a weakness last year? Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift combined for more than 1,600 rushing yards, with an average of 4.45 per carry and had 22 rushing touchdowns. Swift caught 48 passes for 389 yards and three more touchdowns. If they upgraded, it’s hard to see them being more productive.
  • There’s also the matter of Ben Johnson. There’s no question that he is a bright offensive mind, but now teams will have a full season of work to study and figure out how to stop him.

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.

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Three Bullets Per Game: Wildcard Weekend Gambling Guide

| January 13th, 2023

This is less a gambling guide, and more an overview of the weekend’s action with predictions. But my gambling choices are evident in my final score prognostications. (All lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.)

Seahawks at 49ers (-9.5), Over/Under: 42.5

  • Just as we all predicted in August, the 2022 season could be decided by Brock Purdy’s performance in the postseason. Purdy was a player I liked in the draft, precisely because I watched him play football and not run around in his underwear in Indianapolis. He was a gamer at Iowa State, and those types of guys tend to find a role in the NFL.
  • Seattle is playing with house money and teams in that position are always dangerous. This feels like a game that is 13-13 early in the second quarter, and gamblers start getting nervous, only to see it completely unravel for the Seahawks after a costly turnover or two.
  • 49ers 34, Seahawks 16

Chargers (-2) at Jaguars, Over/Under: 47.5

  • This was the predictable Saturday night contest, but if the league had some leadership, they would have put it in the premier Sunday night slot and marketed the hell out of these two young superstar QBs. Instead, the game of the weekend will be played in the least-watched time slot.
  • This game feels incredibly even, and when that’s the case I look at three essential elements: quarterback, coach and building. Quarterback is a push right now, and the home field in Jacksonville isn’t much of one. But this is the most significant coaching mismatch of the week. Doug Pederson is a big game guy and Brandon Staley has absolutely no in-game feel. The latter will make a head-scratching decision (he always does) to decide this contest.
  • Jaguars 27, Chargers 23

Dolphins at Bills (-13.5), Over/Under: 47

  • Was it the Dolphins? Was it the league? Was it his family? It’s not important. Tua Tagovailoa is not playing in this ballgame and that is important for the long-term health of the young man’s brain. Tua will now have the next seven months to establish whether he wants to assume the risk of continuing his football career. One hopes that he’ll visit with serious neurologists during that time, doctors unaffiliated with the league.
  • Without Tua, this is a serious mismatch.
  • Bills 40, Dolphins 17

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The Final Sunday: Vikings at Bears, Texans at Colts Predictions

| January 6th, 2023

Why do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?







Vikings at Bears Prediction

With Justin Fields, who accounts for about 90% of the offense, not playing, and Nathan Peterman, one of the worst starting quarterbacks in modern NFL history, playing, the Vikings will have their starters on the bench by early third quarter.

Vikings 33, Bears 9

Texans at Colts Prediction

Houston is simply playing better football, week in and week out. And while folks will argue they have no impetus to win this game and fall out of the first pick, the Deshaun Watson trade gave them more than enough ammunition to ensure they come out of the 2023 draft with whomever they deem their top prospect.

Texans 19, Colts 13

And with this prediction, the Chicago Bears will secure the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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With Four Difficult Games Remaining, Bears Enter a Purely Evaluative Period

| December 13th, 2022

The Bears are unlikely to win any of their remaining games. The Philadelphia Eagles might be the best team in the league. If they’re not, that distinction could be awarded the Buffalo Bills. Since starting the season 1-6. the Detroit Lions have been a top NFC side, going 5-1 and last Sunday, making their case as the best team in the NFC North (despite overall record). The Minnesota Vikings will win the division but with Dallas and San Francisco breathing down their necks for the two seed, they will need a win in the finale. In none of these final four contests will the Bears be less than a touchdown underdog. They may steal a victory in this closing month, but it’ll be a surprise if they do.

So, what is left for the Bears fan? The answer, sadly, is not much.

Justin Fields has proven to be one of the most electric quarterbacks in the league and the future at the position in Chicago. That was everything in 2022.

We know what the Bears have on their offensive and defensive lines, i.e., not much. (Teven Jenkins can play, it seems. Can Braxton Jones? I honestly don’t know.)

We’ve seen glimpses of production from the receivers (Claypool, Harry, EQ) but know improvement is needed. We’ve seen production in the secondary but know reinforcements are needed there as well. (You can never have enough quality corners.)

And we’ve seen quite the revelation in Jack Sanborn, whose production the last few weeks saved the Chicago Bears about $100 million in what would have been misallocated resources.

The beats will beat on; they don’t have the luxury of this approach. Kevin Fishbain can’t just write, “Ah, fuck it, this game doesn’t mean anything,” and still hope his direct deposit from the fine folks at The New York Times Company goes through. But if the Bears are smart, they are going to use these final four contests for purely evaluative purposes. That means any player with a tenuous role moving forward should be on the field for meaningful reps. These are not preseason games. These are four real contests against good teams with the world to play for. You want to find out what these young players have?

Draft position is important. But there is little drama remaining there. Even if the Bears steal another victory, they will be picking in the top five, and likely the top three. With this draft reportedly top heavy at quarterback, Ryan Poles should have an opportunity to trade back and add premium picks. (This roster needs them.) If a big trade doesn’t surface, Poles will have to decide whether to a top lineman prospect or electrifying wide receiver. I can tell you right now, having watched what’s happening around the league, I’ll be pushing for the latter.

Enjoy this final month, Bears fans. The team has their quarterback and 2023 Bears, while not yet contenders, should be the most entertaining team on the lakefront in modern history. The arrow for this franchise is pointed decidedly up, with an exciting off-season soon to come. We just have to suffer through a few losses down the stretch to get there.

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