Posts Tagged ‘chicago bears’

Last weekend was not exactly a bright one in my history of picking games.  I was 1-3 with my only successful pick being the Bears.  The most interesting thing to me about last weekend is that each of the four teams that lost the regular season matchup in the stadium where the playoff game was played won the playoff game.  And, as a teaser for my picks, I think that trend will continue this weekend.

I was going to do more extensive write ups on the two championship games, but to be honest, I’ve been much more interested in the work I’m doing over at my NBA blog.  I’m researching and posting my mid-season rankings by position.  I just posted my mid-season point guard rankings.

Back to the NFL – I do think these championship games could be excellent.  Let’s take a look.

NFC Championship
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 3:00 pm

The Packers and Bears split their season series, with each team winning on their home turf.  They most recently met in Green Bay in week 17 in a must win for the Packers who held off the Bears 10-3.  It’s almost amazing to me that Green Bay and Chicago have met 181 times but only once in the playoffs.

Key for the Packers: They have to contain the Bears’ return game.  Devin Hester is explosive and their coverage teams have struggled – see the Eric Weems 102-yard kickoff touchdown return from last weekend.

Key for the Bears: They have to get a strong pass rush from their front four.

Who do I like: Packers 20-13

Why: Rodgers is playing better than any other individual player so far in these playoffs and the Packers defense has been vicious. I like what the Bears have done but I think it ends here.

AFC Championship
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 6:30 pm

Both of these teams scored impressive wins over division rivals last week.  I was especially surprised by the Jets who I expected to get crushed by New England.  Their coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for their tremendously successful game plans.

Key for the Jets: They’ve had success switching to a coverage defensive approach in the last two weeks.  I think they need to go back to the attacking blitz scheme that got them into the Playoffs.  The Steelers offensive line is susceptible to the blitz and the Ravens had success with the blitz.  Baltimore’s switch to a conservative approach is a large part of what did them in.

Key for the Steelers: Stopping the run.  The Jets had over 100 yards rushing when they beat the Steelers in week 15.

Who do I like: Steelers 21-10

Why: It’s important to remember that neither Troy Polamalu nor Heath Miller played in the first matchup.  I think both of those guys make a difference in this game.  Also, the Jets are due for a let down after the huge emotional win over the Patriots.  Ultimately I like the ability of Ben Roethlisberger to make plays more than I like the ability of Mark Sanchez to make plays.

Who do you like in these games?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Sunday’s NFL playoff undercard is a matchup that you immediately want to write off as one-sided.  The Seahawks, who still don’t have a .500 record after winning a playoff game, travel to Chicago to face the Bears, who finished the season 11-5 and had a bye last week.  But after what the Seahawks were able to do against the defending champion Saints in the Wild Card round you cannot write them off.  Add to that the fact that Seattle has already won in Chicago this year, 23-20 in week six, and this game becomes a whole lot more interesting.

Cedric Tillman at snowy Soldier Field

Cedric Tillman and the Bears defense will not be the pushovers that the Saints were.

The Seahawks have demonstrated a lot of resolve by beating the Rams and Saints in consecutive weeks with their backs against the wall.  Very few NFL observers picked them to win either game.  Last Saturday night against New Orleans it was Matt Hasselbeck who had one of the finest games of his career, completing 22 of 35 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns.  And it was Buffalo castoff Marshawn Lynch who clinched the game with a determined 67-yard touchdown run that thwarted the Saints fourth quarter comeback attempt.

Chicago had its doubters throughout the season, especially after that home loss to Seattle was followed by another home loss to Washington.  But they solidified their need areas during the bye week and finished the season winning seven of their last nine games against a tough schedule. 

The Seahawks win if: They can exploit the Bears’ formerly struggling offensive line to sack Jay Cutler and force him to rush his passes.  The Bears allowed 56 sacks this season, more than any other team in the NFL.  The Seahawks defense was in the top half of the league with 37 sacks and were led by Chris Clemons who had 11.  Seattle had six sacks in the first matchup.

The Bears win if: They take care of the ball and do not turn it over.

Who do I like: Bears 27-13

Why: The Bears team the Seahawks will play in this game is not the same team they matched up with in week six.  Chicago has solidified its offensive line and worked the running game into its offense more.  The Bears should completely shut down the Seahawks running game forcing Hasselbeck into third-and-longs that will enable their pass rush to get good pressure.  I expect the Bears to build a safe lead and cruise to the victory.

Photo source: The U.S. Army

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With just two weeks left in the NFL season many teams are out of the running for the playoffs, others have all but clinched a berth, while a few face critical games in week 16.  There are not as many huge matchups in week 16 as there was last weekend, but there are still some very important battles that feature teams fighting for playoff positioning. 

New York Jets at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 1:00 pm

Both of these teams grabbed impressive road wins last week.  The Bears have a chance to earn the #2 seed in the NFC and the bye and home-field advantage that comes with it.

Key to the game: Chicago’s pass-blocking, which ranks as the worst in the NFL, against the 10th ranked Jets pass rush.

Who do I like: I think last week’s win at Pittsburgh reinvigorated the confidence of the Jets.  Mark Sanchez also proved he can win a game in the elements.  I’m going with the Jets because I don’t believe the Bears will be able to generate enough offense.  Look out for the special teams play in this one.

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Raider Nation will be ready to terrorize Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday

Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders
Sunday, 4:05 pm

The Colts fended off the Jaguars last Sunday to take back control of the AFC South, but they need to continue to win to keep that control.  Oakland lost at Jacksonville two weeks ago in a barn-burner.

Key to the game: The Raiders second ranked rushing attack versus the Colts run D, which ranks 28th in the NFL.  Indianapolis did an excellent job of bottling up the Jaguars running backs last week.  They’ll have to bring that same intensity on Sunday.

Who do I like: I’m going out on a limb here and picking the Raiders.  There was a clear difference in the Colts passing game last week after Austin Collie went out.  And I don’t think that the Colts will find the yards on the ground like they did against Jacksonville.  Indianapolis will also not have the same defensive advantage they had last week when they played on their home turf and instead will be playing on Oakland’s grass.  As a result, the Raiders should be able to run the ball with success.

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
Sunday, 4:15 pm

It’s kill or be killed in this game.  After last week’s crushing loss to the Eagles the Giants can still clinch a playoff berth by beating the Packers on Sunday.  Green Bay can earn a playoff spot by winning their last two games.

Key to the game: The ability of Aaron Rodgers to advance the ball through the air against the Giants’ second ranked passing defense.

Who do I like: This is really a must win for both teams.  You can expect the Lambeau crowd to be electric.  With a healthy Rodgers the Packers have lost only four games – each one by three points and two of them were overtime defeats.  I’ve got to go with Green Bay at home here.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Monday, 8:30 pm

The Falcons can clinch homefield advantage in the NFC with a win.  The Saints will earn a playoff spot with a win on enemy turf.  Atlanta won in New Orleans during week three.

Key to the game: Turnovers – the Saints turned the ball over 13 times in their four losses.

Who do I like: New Orleans may have been caught looking forward to this game while losing last Sunday in Baltimore.  I think the Saints have really had their eye on getting back at the Falcons since they lost in week three.  They have the perfect opportunity to do so in week 16.  I think New Orleans will come out very focused on Monday night and beat Atlanta.  It will only delay the inevitable division championship for the Falcons, but it will send a message heading into the playoffs where they may meet for a third time.

Who do you think will win these four big games?  Share your predictions by posting a comment below.

Photo source: leduardo

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With only four weeks left in the 2010 NFL season it’s time for the cream to rise to the top.  Last week it was the Steelers and Patriots making statements with huge wins over division rivals.  Who will step up in week 14?  Let’s take a look at the big matchups.

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, 1:00 pm

Left for dead, the Vikings have gotten a couple of nice wins since the firing of Brad Childress.  The Giants need the victory to stay in contention for the NFC East and maintain playoff positioning.

Key to the game: New York’s sixth ranked rushing offense against Minnesota’s fourth ranked rushing defense.

Who do I like: With Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith back in the mix and Eli Manning protected by the controlled confines of a dome, I’m going with the Giants

Eli Manning discussing alignments

Eli and the Giants need a big W in Minnesota

Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, 1:00 pm

Yes, this is a big game.  The Jaguars currently lead the AFC South while the Raiders are two games behind the Chiefs, have a game remaining against them and have already beaten them once.

Key to the game: Jacksonville’s second ranked rushing offense against Oakland’s 23rd ranked rushing defense.  All of the Jaguars offensive success starts with the running game.

Who do I like: I’ve got to go with Jacksonville and the East Coast 1:00 advantage.

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Sunday, 4:15 pm

A rematch from week one and unfortunately it looks very likely that the Chiefs will be without Matt Cassel.  Brodie Croyle has started nine games in his NFL career and has zero wins.

Key to the game: San Diego’s second ranked passing game against the 21st ranked passing defense of Kansas City.  The Chiefs have to stop Philip Rivers.  They’ll have no chance in a scoring battle.

Who do I like: Without Cassel, picking the Chargers is a no-brainer.

New England Patriots at Chicago Bears
Sunday, 4:15 pm

The Patriots put their four game winning streak on the line in Chicago against the Bears’ five game winning streak.

Key to the game: Chicago’s pass rush against New England’s offensive line.  To win the game the Bears must not allow Tom Brady to have time to throw.

Who do I like: I can see the Bears winning this game, but I’m not going to make that pick.  The Patriots are rolling.  I’m going with them to get the victory.

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, 8:20 pm

A few weeks ago this wasn’t a game.  It is now.  The Cowboys have won three of four in impressive fashion since Jason Garrett became coach.

Key to the game: The Eagles stopping the suddenly hot Dallas running game.  The Cowboys have 134, 144 and 217 yards rushing in their last three games.

Who do I like: Despite the solid play by Dallas recently I’m still going with Philadelphia.  I think Michael Vick will be the difference maker through the air.

Who do you like in these games?  Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Photo source: AJ Guel Photography

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The Sunday portion of NFL week 12 has been thrilling.  Through the first 11 games of the day (with Chargers-Colts being played), eight games have ended with a score differential of a touchdown or less.  Five of the six early games are included in that total.  This is what the NFL is all about.  I guess it makes up for a rather ho-hum Thanksgiving slate.

With the Sunday and Monday night games still to be played, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 12 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Chicago Bears – 31-26 over the Philadelphia Eagles

Eli Manning Warming Up

Eli Manning and the Giants rallied for a critical win on Sunday

Most Important Win

New York Giants – 24-20 over the Jacksonville Jaguars

Worst Loss

Tennessee Titans – 20-0 at the Houston Texans

Biggest Surprise

St. Louis Rams

Biggest Disappointment

Oakland Raiders

Offensive MVP

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – 14 completions 21 attempts 247 yards 4 TDs 146.2 QB rating 7 carries 17 yards

Defensive MVP

Terrell Thomas, New York Giants – 1 interception 1 sack 6 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Brad Smith, New York Jets – 89-yard kickoff return TD

Most Surprising Performance

Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins – 17 completions 30 attempts 307 yards 2 TDs 1 interception 100.3 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans – 7 carries 5 yards 2 receptions 2 yards

Offensive Rookie

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – 22 completions 37 attempts 308 yards 3 TDs 113.3 QB rating

Defensive Rookie

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants – 2 sacks, 8 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 26 completions 35 attempts 344 yards 1 TD 114.5 QB rating 12 carries 51 yards 1 TD

Quick Takes

  • The local FOX affiliate had to show the Panthers-Browns game so there was no watching the Packers-Falcons matchup.  So instead I tuned in for the whole Jaguars-Giants game and it was a good one.
  • Jacksonville had complete control in the first half.  David Garrard excelled and the Jaguars O-line opened up hole after hole for the backs while the New York defense seemed to have missed their wake up call.  Jacksonville piled up 145 yards on the ground through the first two quarters.
  • The second half was a different story.  The Giants defense caught a lucky break early with the Terrell Thomas interception and showed a much greater sense of urgency.  They blitzed quite a bit and it was particularly successful in the last few minutes of the game as they repeatedly hit Garrard.
  • One Jacksonville player I was really impressed with who doesn’t get much PT was the running back Rashad Jennings.  He has the patience to let the blocking develop and then explode.  That is a skill that is not often seen at that level in such a young ball carrier.
  • The absolute key to the Giants win? Zero turnovers.
  • Of course I’m very excited that the Rams beat the Broncos in Denver, but boy it was nerve racking. I was following the game online as the Rams let the Broncos get closer and closer and closer.  I was sure they were going to fold like they did in San Francisco.  Then FOX switched to live coverage after the Eagles-Bears game was over.  I was thrilled to see the defense finally get the stop they needed.  Now the Rams are back in first place in the NFC West.
  • Miami really stopped Oakland’s running game.  If you take away Jacoby Ford’s 13-yard run the Dolphins held the Raiders to just three yards on 11 carries…hard to believe.
  • I predicted the Chiefs would fall in Seattle.  I was clearly wrong.  What a game for Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.

One BIG Question

Which game is bigger next week – Steelers at Ravens on Sunday night or Jets at Patriots on Monday night?  Let me know which one you are looking forward to more.

Photo source: Marianne O’Leary

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Earlier in the week I mentioned the two big NFC matchups in the NFL’s week twelve and previewed the Packers-Falcons game.  The second of those two battles for NFC supremacy features the Philadelphia Eagles visiting the Chicago Bears.  Like the first game, this one features two teams on winning streaks.

Philadelphia Eagles mascot Swoop

How will the Eagles respond in enemy territory on Sunday?

Led by dynamic MVP candidate Michael Vick, the Eagles have won three straight.  Most recently they beat the New York Giants in a critical NFC East matchup.  After a ridiculously outstanding performance against the Redskins two weeks ago, last week Vick managed the game well.  The key was the defense, which forced the Giants into five turnovers.  The Eagles are becoming a multiple threat team that always has one unit that carries it to the win.

The last time we saw the Bears was when they scored a strong statement win in Miami for their third straight victory.  Because of the perception that they have a weak schedule and a less than efficient offense, Chicago has not been taken seriously as a contender.  But after their domination of the Dolphins it may be time to reconsider.

The Eagles win if: They can manufacture yardage on the ground.  Whether it is Vick, LeSean McCoy or reverses to DeSean Jackson, the Eagles need to get a running game going.  The Bears have given up more than 100 yards rushing in each of their three losses and have held their opponent under 100 yards on the ground in each of their seven wins.

The Bears win if: They don’t turn the ball over.  Chicago is at their best with a ball control approach that depends on the defense.  Chances are there will be a substantial amount of pressure on Jay Cutler.  He has to take care of the ball and throw it away when necessary.

Who do I like: Eagles 20-13

Why: Two weeks ago Philadelphia went into Washington and destroyed the Redskins.  This shows that they can go into hostile territory and win.  Now clearly the Bears have a much better defense than the Redskins, but I like the Eagles to find enough ways to move the ball to get multiple scores.  I also like the Philadelphia defense in their matchup against Chicago’s offense.  The Eagles lead the NFL in interceptions with 19 and they have also found a lot of ways to get to the quarterback.  The Bears offensive line has improved but I’m betting the Eagles pass rush is still able to exploit their deficiencies.

How do you see this game playing out?  Do you agree with me that the Eagles will win?  Or do you see the Bears defending their home turf?  Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Photo source: SoCalSuperEagle

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With all the byes behind us, all 32 NFL teams are playing in week 11.  It got off to a surprising start, at least to me, with the Bears dominating the Dolphins in Miami.  With a packed slate, the action on Sunday was happening fast and furiously. There were some big matchups and some telling results.

Devin Hester

The Bears are finding more ways to make their opponents worry

With the very important Giants-Eagles game currently being played, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 11 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 31-3 at the Minnesota Vikings

Most Important Win

Chicago Bears – 16-0 at the Miami Dolphins

Worst Loss

Cincinnati Bengals – 31-49 to the Buffalo Bills

Biggest Surprise

Washington Redskins

Biggest Disappointment

San Francisco 49ers

Offensive MVP

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 22 completions 31 attempts 301 yards 4 TDs 141.3 QB rating 3 carries 21 yards

Defensive MVP

Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears – 3 sacks 6 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Bryan McCann, Dallas Cowboys – 97-yard punt return TD, 2 kickoff returns for 55 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense – held Browns to 88 yards on 27 carries

Most Disappointing Performance

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins – 3 receptions 41 yards (+ penalties and dropped passes)

Offensive Rookie

Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints – 23 carries 99 yards 1 TD

Defensive Rookie

T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns – 2 interceptions, 5 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks – 32 completions 44 attempts 366 yards 1 TD 104.9 QB rating

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks – 6 receptions 109 yards

Quick Takes

  • I watched the bulk of the Redskins-Titans game.  I was really impressed with the play of the Redskins offensive line, especially because injuries led to a patchwork group.  They did a very good job of protecting Donovan McNabb and opening up holes for the running backs.  Kyle Shanahan clearly put together an excellent offensive game plan.
  • It was a real shame that Vince Young got hurt.  He was throwing a good ball before the injury.  I don’t know what the heck happend after that though.
  • Rusty Smith is not ready for primetime.  Not even close.
  • Of course, a stat that I always like to look at is third down conversions.  Coming into the game in Tennessee, Washington was last in the NFL on third down conversions at 22%.  In today’s win they converted 50% and it made a big difference in the game.
  • On the topic of third down conversions – they were definitely a factor in the Falcons-Rams game.  Atlanta converted nine of 17, while St. Louis was only one of 10.
  • I was glad to hear some NFL pundits considering a pick of the Rams.  It shows the progress the franchise has made this season.  But the Falcons are just too good to lose that game.
  • The Steelers showed that they truly do have one of the best defenses in the NFL, holding the recently explosive Raiders to just 182 total yards.
  • I was definitely impressed by the Bears and Bucs this week who showed that they are for real by posting shutouts on somebody else’s turf.
  • The Chiefs, Jaguars and Redskins all sent a message not to count them out yet.
  • Shovel the dirt on the Bengals and Vikings.  They are done.

One BIG Question

Can the Dolphins and Titans climb back into the playoff race?  Or are they done now too?

Let me know your week 11 thoughts by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Monica’s Dad

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