As I sit with a smile on my face Monday morning because my Cowboys are in first place, I know my Bears’ friends are doom and gloom because of Jay Cutler going down with a broken thumb. As you who know me well know I have no love for the Bears, I will tell you there’s still a lot of hope. I would say that 80% of the Bears game is set-up by defense and special teams with the remaining 20% on the offense’s shoulder. Forte seems to be handling most of the work load at this point, so if Caleb Hanie, Cutler’s replacement can manage the game the Bears still have a shot at the playoffs.
While Cutler looked pretty good against the 13th ranked Chargers defense this past Sunday, he did nothing against the ninth ranked Lions the week prior. Hanie has every opportunity to be as successful as Cutler in Mike Martz’ offense.
Let’s look at the remaining schedule:
@The Raiders – The Raiders are looking good with Carson Palmer at the helm and they have a pretty good defense that can cause Forte some issues. The key for Hanie in this game is taking what the Raiders give him to loosen the defense up enough to let Forte run wild. The Raiders defense ranks 23rd against the run and 20th against the pass, so there should be some open Bears’ receivers. No doubt the Raiders are going to make Hanie beat them, so there should be a lot of man coverage down field. Since the Bears are on the road and Palmer should be able do enough against the Bears secondary the Raiders win this one in a low scoring affair. Record: 7-4
Chiefs – The Bears come home to face the Chiefs in what is a second of three games against the AFC West, a blessing down the stretch. Bears can win this game on defense and special teams alone. The Chiefs have showed a pulse at times but they are not a very good team and the Bears will exploit this. Record: 8-4
@Broncos – This one makes my head hurt because I still haven’t been able to figure out how the Broncos have gone 3-1 with Tebow, he’s not a good quarterback. The Bears should easily win this one because their defense should be able to cause Tebow fits, but the Jets defense should have done the same and Tebow beat them last Thursday. Since it’s on the road and Tebow seems to really have God on his side, Broncos win in a squeaker: Record: 8-5
Seahawks – Again, the Bears come home to game that they should have little problem winning, they should be able to run and pass, as well as make big plays on defense and special teams. Record: 9-5
@Packers – Just withdraw from the game and keep the team healthy. Packers win big. Record: 9-6
@Vikings – The Vikings have shown some signs of life, but if Adrian Peterson is still gimpy the Bears should win easily. Even with Peterson the defense should confuse Vikings QB, Christian Ponder, enough to create a few turnovers that should lead to points. Bears close out with a win on the road. Record: 10-6
Now it gets trickier in regards to getting into the playoffs, especially with the Cowboys winning this weekend and the Giants losing. If the season ended today the Lions would play the Cowboys and the Bears would play the Saints in the Wildcard round. I’m sticking by 11-5 for the Cowboys and winning the division, but the Giants now become the Bears’ problem.
In week 13 the Giants host the Packers in the Meadowlands and while Bears’ fans would instinctively root for the Giants they should be rooting for their enemy the Packers. In fact, you should back the Pack the next two weeks against the Lions on Thanksgiving and the Giants the following week. Two more wins by the Pack and you’re playoff hopes improve, in fact the Pack close the season hosting the Lions so your chances greatly improve.
The Giants have to play the Saints in week 12, so that should be another loss especially with the Saints coming off the bye week. That takes care of the Giants, but there’s still the Atlanta Falcons to consider, however the Bears’ hold the tiebreaker from the opening day win so they would only be a concern if they finish with a better record than the Bears.
So hope remains if the Bears formula continues to work, solid defense and spectacular special teams.
Another tough week after such a good start to the season. A very frustrating week, as the Lions defense did the job by holding the Bears to one offensive touchdown, Cutler to 123 yards, and Forte to 67 yards rushing. When you look at that it would seem that the Lions won, but Jim Schwartz has some growing to do as a coach and the first lesson learned would be do not kick the ball to Hester. Two special teams and defensive touchdowns lead to the demise of the Lions. Stafford had 63 passing attempts, whoa! Anyhow enough of my complaining about bonehead calls that lead to a 1-3 week, hold on, wait, I have to say something about the Falcons going for it on 4th and 1 in their end of the field in overtime; terrible coaching.
I fell to .500 straight up, but remain a few games above .500 against the spread.
Straight up: 9-9
Spread: 11 – 9
This weeks upset specials:
Chargers over the Bears (-2.5) – This looks familiar, same prediction different team. The Bears are not as desperate as the Chargers and the Chargers will have a more balanced game plan than the Lions, as well as not kicking to Hester. Let’s not forget the Bears only scored one offensive touchdown last week. Remove Hester from the equation and the Bears lose. They’re really not good.
Raiders over the Vikings (-1.5) – The Raiders have a much better team than the Vikings, and should overcome any dome troubles to win this one on the road. I’m kind of shocked that the Vikings are favorites in this one.
Eagles over the Giants (-3.5) – I’m pretty shocked by how well the Giants have played so far this season, but the desperate Eagles will win this one in a classic NFC East match-up.
Bills over the Dolphins (-2.5) – The Bills will rebound this week in Miami despite the Dolphins finally figuring out their team over the last few weeks. The Dolphins have been playing much better and Reggie Bush has been running the best of his career, but the Bills will reach back and re-establish themselves after a horrible performance against the Cowboys.
Good luck everyone!
On Sunday night at band practice I entered into a discussion of Tony Romo vs. Jay Cutler with Jimmy. He insisted that if he had the choice he would take Cutler over Romo in a heartbeat, this statement flabbergasted me.
The argument in itself is funny, as neither has done squat as it relates to the post season, which is what you really want out of your quarterback. Romo’s misfortunes are highly publicized with the fumbled field goal in 2006, his first season as the Cowboys QB and late game turnovers since, while Cutler had a mysterious knee injury in the 2010 Championship game, and also has a career of throwing interceptions at inopportune times.
When you look at the numbers between Cutler and Romo, well it seems like only an idiot would pick Cutler. Cutler has started 77 games to Romo’s 70 games, as Romo did not play his first full season as the Cowboys starter until 2007 and was injured much of last season (Romo is listed as playing in 98 games, but 28 of those were as the field goal placement holder.)
In seven less games and 111 less passing attempts Romo has passed for 19,158 yards to Cutler’s 17,997, as well as throwing 134 touch down passes to Cutler’s 115. Interceptions – Romo has only thrown 69, while Cutler has thrown 85, and Romo has a 95.8 QB rating with Cutler’s at 84.3. The numbers do not lie, and Romo made a leap over Cutler in the guts category earlier this season thanks to his performance in the 49ers game.
Romo left the game injured to return a quarter later to lead the Cowboys to an overtime victory. It was revealed that Romo returned to the game with four broken ribs and a punctured lung. Romo has continued to play with these injuries throughout the 2011 season. One thing to note, the Cowboys loss is the only loss the 49ers have this season.
Cutler left the biggest game of his career with a “knee-injury” and could not return. I still find it curious that Cutler stood on the sideline with a “knee-injury.” Romo has now trumped Cutler in the “guts” category after his 49ers performance.
Now Jimmy says that Cutler has some “mysterioso X factor” which I can’t argue if he feels that way but he also stated the following about Cutler, “Great arm, tough dude, best QB the Bears have had in my lifetime.”
Great arm I can’t argue, but in regards to “tough dude” please refer to the 2010 playoffs. As far as being the “best QB the Bears had” in Jimmy’s lifetime, well I’d vote Jim McMahon, since he won a Super Bowl. McMahon may have had Payton, but Cutler has Forte (he’s pretty darn good.)
So as far as number goes Romo is superior to Cutler, in regards to guts Romo took a leap past Cutler, but as far as “mysterio x factors” Cutler has that covered.
It was a slight rebound with a 2-2 record last week, which should have been 3-1 if the Rams were not so poorly coached. As predicted the running game was in full order with Jackson busting off 130 plus, but bonehead plays by the defense cost the Rams the game.
Straight up: 8-6
Spread: 10 – 6
This weeks upset specials:
Lions over the Bears (-2.5) – I can’t even believe the Lions are underdogs this week? Have the odd makers not been paying attention to how well teams coming off the bye weeks have been playing? The Bears upset the Eagles last week following the week off, and the Eagles had a flawless game plan against the Cowboys with the extra week off in what turned into a beating. The Bears will suffer the same fate. Lions win easily at the Flying Saucer Field. Also, did someone catch Bears fever?
Rams over the Browns (-2.5) – The Rams will make me right this weekend and beat the Browns. Steven Jackson will run wild again.
Colts over the Jaguars (-2.5) – The Colts will get their first win this week over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This should the team the Colts defense has been waiting for to make their team look good.
Falcons over the Saints(-.5) – The Falcons are getting their mojo rising and the Saints are starting to look more like the ‘aints each game. They gave the Bucs a chance to win last week. The Falcons will over match the Saints, but there should be a lot of points in this one.
Good luck everyone!
If you’re reading this then you may know that I was 3-1 last week straight up and 4-0 against the spread. If you did a $20 four team parlay with my picks you won about $400, so congrats. I picking on some of the same teams this week, but it’s the tough part of the schedule for teams.
Jets over the Chargers (-1.5) - The Jets are getting their swagger back and they will paste Philip Rivers and the Chargers coming off the bye week. The Chargers defense has enough holes that will allow Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ offense to have a good day. The Jets defense will create at least three turnovers in this one. Jets by 10.
Buccaneers over the Bears (-0.5) – This is basically a pick ‘em, but with the Bears as favorites the Bucs will win this one by at least a touchdown. Their defense will confuse Jay Cutler and will stymie the Bears running game. I’d also be surprised if Devon Hester gets a return in this one.
Falcons over the Lions (-3.5) – This should be a well-played football without an angry handshake at the end. This will be a high scoring affair as the Falcons defense has been able to stop very little, but the difference in this one will the running game of the Falcons. The Falcons will control the clock to keep their porous defense off the field as well as Megatron and Matt Stafford. This game will not be decided by more than three points either way. Falcons by a field goal.
Texans over the Titans (-3.5) – The Texans are getting no respect from the odds makers this week, but they have a superior team to the Titans. The Texans will get the offense back on track this week, and Wade Phillip’s defense will of enough to confuse the Titans and create trouble for Chris Johnson’s running game. Texans by a touchdown.
Colts over Saints (-13.5) - The Colts are not going to win, but they are going to cover the spread. The Colts still have a good defense and the Saints will not win by two touchdowns. That’s a straight up spread pick.
Another wild week for my football teams, but they were all winners again. I can breathe easy for another week as everyone’s at least .500 after the past weekend. Then we have the Bears, who, well, are not very good.
Let’s start with Illinois, since they’ve started the season 4-0 for the first time since 1951. Conference play begins, so things may change for the Fightin’ Illini in the near future. I’ll enjoy the 23-20 victory over Western Michigan and look forward to beating the Purple Nerds this weekend. You may also know them as the Northwestern Wildcats.
So much for my bold prediction of the Irish dominating again this week over Pittsburgh, instead they had to overcome turnovers, again to get their second win of the season. Pitt pretty much took receiver, Michael Floyd, out of the game with double coverage, so Tommy Rees did not have his security blanket. Even without Floyd factoring in the game the Irish won 15-12 in a truly boring game. That win moves the Irish to 2-2 on the year.
So, the Cowboys came limping in to this week with Tony Romo in a flak jacket to protect his ribs and punctured lung, Felix Jones’ shoulder in a sling because its dislocated, Dez Bryant coming in and out the game with leg issues and Miles Austin out with a hamstring. Romo survived four bad snaps by his center, rookie receivers running bad routes, and a so-so running game. The two biggest plays of the game came from Romo, one when the ball was snapped to him prematurely and went 20-yards behind the line of scrimmage before he picked it up and threw a pass for a two-yard gain under duress. The other was the game winning drive when Washington sensing the wide receivers were completely out-of-whack decided to keep sending all-out blitzes daring Romo to throw complete a pass. He did just that when he rolled out, bought time and hit an open Dez Bryant for a first down putting the Cowboys in field goal range. The Cowboys took an 18-16 lead and then the defense sealed the deal when they stripped Rex Grossman of the ball just over 20-seconds to play. The Cowboys took a knee and that was the game. The Cowboys face another undefeated team, my second favorite team to watch this year, the Detroit Lions. The Cowboys defense will have more of a challenge this weekend facing a potent passing attack that includes the best receiver in football, Calvin Johnson. The Cowboys will have to have less mistakes this weekend to beat the Lions, and if they do they’ll beat Detroit 24-21, if not the Lions may massacre the ‘Boys.
Is it just me or is Mike Martz trying to get fired? Can you blame him, the Bears still have not provided him with a receiving core worth squat or a QB that will listen. Why do you think the Broncos were so quick to let Cutler go? Because he has issues listening to coaches. In Martz’ offense you either conform to his way or its no way. That really hasn’t worked for Cutler, and he has so little faith in his offensive line that he often gives up on a play too early. Then there’s the flipside to Cutler when he holds the ball for over six seconds and takes a sack. It’s like he has no internal clock. The Bears were no match for the Packers this weekend as the Pack jumped out to a 14-0 lead and didn’t look back. Martz was suppose to be more committed to the run game this week, but they only rushed the ball nine times for 2-yards. Cutler outperformed Matt Forte with three rushes for 9 nine yards. I will admit the Bears did get screwed on a wonderfully designed trick play on a punt. The Packers punted and Devin Hester faked like the ball was coming to him on the near side of the field. Before the Packers knew what hit them Johnny Knox was running free down the far side of the field for a touchdown. The play was called back for a phantom hold back at the twenty. The Bears defense again let up at least 100-yards rushing and was lit up in the secondary as usual. If I were the Panthers this week I would just let Cam Newton throw 50 times, as they will probably win the game. Bears fall to 1-2, staring 1-3 in the face.
Stepping up and making plays, finally was the theme for the teams I cheer on during the College and NFL season. Notre Dame, Illinois, and the Dallas Cowboys all stepped up to the plate this weekend in dramatic fashion. The Bears not so much, but I have no love for them.
The Irish needed to dominate Michigan State in order to prove to their critics and to their supporters that they should be taken seriously. As I predicted they did just that by picking each other up like a good team does. The biggest play of the game came after the Irish had fumbled a punt in the fourth quarter, no I’m not kidding if you did not see the game. A few plays later the Irish intercepted the pass and returned into Michigan State territory thus sealing the victory. Notre Dame won 31-13 barely sweating as they completely shut down the Michigan State running game. State desperate to come up with something tried another fake field goal that completely backfired, and tried the handoff, toss-back pass that also accounted for a 12-yard loss. It was great to see Notre Dame beat a ranked opponent. Notre Dame now faces Pitt, in Pittsburgh this weekend.
Speaking of beating ranked opponents, Illinois had not beat a ranked opponent in 10 tries, since they upset #1 Ohio State through a brilliantly played game of ball control. This time they beat ASU with just enough offense and dominating defensive play. Big plays happened for the Illinois defense when they needed it the most, and the undefeated Illini now find themselves ranked #24 in the country. Good times down in Champaign for the Illini. The Illini take on Western Michigan this weekend before getting into the Big Ten schedule. This will weekend will mark Illinois’ fourth straight home game this season.
Sometimes a game can define a player’s career and that game may have been yesterday for Tony Romo. Romo returned to the game after having to ribs broken to lead the Cowboys to an overtime victory in San Francisco, 27-24. The broken ribs were announced this morning, but at the time it was at least a fractured rib. Romo put together two drives to overcome a 10-point 4th quarter deficit before he hit a streaking Jesse Holley for 77-yards setting up the game winning field goal. Of course, the Cowboys have more issues now going into week three. Felix Jones has a separated shoulder but should be able to play, and Miles Austin tweaked his hamstring and could be out through the bye week. Fortunately that is only two games, but with Dez Bryant already sidelined the Cowboys will be asking a lot from unproven receivers like Holley. Randy Moss anyone? He said no the Patriots not the Cowboys. The Cowboys square off against Rex Grossman and the undefeated Redskins this weekend. Can Grossman really keep this going? Did the Bears make a mistake? It should be an interesting Monday Night Football next week.
They are the team I thought they were, and this Sunday exploited that to it’s finest. Mike Martz in true Martz’ fashion rushed the ball only 12 times, yet the Bears leading receiver was their running back, Matt Forte, so much for ball control and keeping New Orleans’ explosive offense off the field. I know the Bears think they have a good defense, but their secondary has more holes than Swiss cheese. Drew Brees exploited it and had a short field to work with a few times due to turnovers. Brees passed for only 270 yards, but again that was because of having a short field to work with. It should also be noted that the great Bears’ defense gave up over 100 rushing for the second consecutive game. Jay Cutler ran for his life or just took hits the entire game as screen passes and dump offs to Forte accounted for 67% of the Bears’ offense. Expect more of the same next week when the Bears play the undefeated Green Bay Packers. Looks like 1-2 for the Bears with games looming against the pass-happy Panthers and undefeated Lions. Cam Newton through for over 400-yards again this week, and the Lions crushed the Chiefs 48-3. Could be 1-4 after the first five for Da Bears.
Well, the college football season snuck up on me before I could get my predictions out, so I’m not going to let that happen with NFL kickoff just a few days away. Let’s just say this Bears’ fans, you are really going to hate the Lions this year. On that note let’s start with the NFC North.
NFC North – easily the second most competitive division in football next to the NFC East, but there will only be two contenders this season from the North, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. The Lions are young and talented and if they can avoid key player injuries I see a 10-6 season for them, while the Packers return with a solid team to go 12-4 and take the NFC top seed in the playoffs. The Bears made some pretty poor offseason moves and are staring a 7-9 season in the face. The only team worse then the Bears this season in the North is the Vikings even with Adrian Peterson, but not much worse at 6-10. If they beat the Bears twice you might see a record swap.
NFC East – the powerhouse of the NFL with the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins. While everyone is gushing over the Eagles I do not expect Michael Vick to make it through the entire season, which will prevent the Eagles from winning the division, and right there to win it will be the Cowboys with a respectable 11-5 record. The Cowboys already had a very talented team in place and with a new revamped defense they should be in great shape. The Eagles will finish at 10-6 and take the other Wild Card spot with the Detroit Lions. The Giants will offer up more of the same with inconsistent play from their offense and defense. The Redskins just named Rex Grossman their starting quarterback, enough said there. Giants will be 9-7 and the Skins will finish 5-11.
NFC South – This race comes down to two teams and only one will make the playoffs, the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. While the Saints seem like it should be business as usual I think their time has come and gone and the Falcons will emerge as the division winner with a 10-6 record with two wins over the Saints. The Saints will also have a 10-6 record, but one of their losses will come at the hands of the Lions, so they will not make the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be 9-7, while the Carolina Panthers will continue their rebuilding process with a 4 -12 record.
NFC West – Why does the West always stink, well since the glory days of the San Francisco 49ers, which isn’t on the horizon anytime soon. The winner of this division will be over .500, but not by much as the St. Louis Rams show the most promise with 9-7 record, and the Arizona Cardinals will be a close second at 8-8. The Seattle Seahawks and 49ers will not be making anything interesting, but I think the 49ers are a little better with a 5-11 finish to the Seahawks 4-12. Yawn.
AFC North – The Steelers and Ravens will he fighting this battle, but the Steelers have a slightly better team, so they will edge out the Ravens with 11-5 record. The Ravens will be right their with a 10-6 record followed by a .500 Cleveland Browns and a horrible Cincinnati Bengals team that might be the worst team in football this season. I’m thinking three wins might be a bit generous, so I’ll go 2-14 with complete turmoil all season.
AFC East – Duh, Patriots, what new? The Pats will win the division easily again despite all the blabbing from Rex Ryan and the New York Jets with a 13–3 record. The Jets will finish with an 11-5 record because of an improved Mark Sanchez this season. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins will anchor the division, but the Dolphins will be starting their ascension this season with an 8-8 record. The Bills will suffer another losing season at 6-10.
AFC South – The big question, will Peyton Manning return 100% healthy and ready to perform? It’s such a big question that I’m going to put the Indianapolis Colts at 9-7 this season and give the division win to the Houston Texans with 10-6 record behind a solid year from Arian Foster (despite the MRI tweet) and Matt Schaub. Both the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars will finish with 7-9 records.
AFC West – Who’s the best team in the AFC? That will come down to the Pats and the San Diego Chargers who will win the West without any problems with a 12-4 record. They should come out the shoot ready to go this year behind gunslinger, Philip Rivers. The rest of the division is crap with the Kansas City Chiefs finishing .500, the Oakland Raiders at 7-9, and the Denver Broncos with a 4-12 record.
NFC Playoff Picture
1 – Green Bay Packers
2 – Dallas Cowboys
3 – Atlanta Falcons
4 – St. Louis Rams
5 – Detroit Lions
6 – Philadelphia Eagles
AFC Playoff Picture
1 – New England Patriots
2 – San Diego Chargers
3 – Pittsburgh Steelers
4 – Houston Texans
5 – New York Jets
6 – Baltimore Ravens
In a bold move the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Park District have to come to an agreement to move past the debacle that took place at Soldier Field last weekend. Per Bears management’s request the CPD will trade a tractor they have for a hose, so they can water the field to keep it in playing condition.
“All we really need to do was get water back on it Friday night. As you can see the field has restored itself and we’re pretty much ready to go for Saturday,” said Tim Lefevour, Soldier Field general manager. “The addition of a hose to water the field will help, I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of this sooner.”
The CPD will also be hosting a class on how to properly water a field for the Soldier Field’s grounds crew. They called upon the Roger “the sodfather” Bossard to teach the class. “We’re not taking anything for granted,” said Lefevour, “we called in the big gun for this one. Some of these guys have never watered a field before, which I guess is kind of obvious after last weekend.”
Many fans and players are clamoring for an artificial turf field, because the newer technology has more give and causes less injuries.
“The evaluation is ongoing. Every year we take a look at it. Our considered opinion is that right now, the best surface for our team, considering player safety, is a natural grass field,” said George McCaskey, Chicago Bears Chairman, adding, “I think the addition of the hose is really going to help things out.”
The Bears will play their first pre-season game at Soldier Field on Saturday night.