Another up and down game goes the Bears way. Thinking about it, I can’t remember the last time there was a kick return for a touchdown, an interception for a touchdown, and a fumble return for a touchdown all in the same game. Jay Cutler tried to piss the game away (two interceptions and a fumble) as did Matt Forte (4th quarter fumble), but in the end, Cutler and Martellus Bennett capped off a brilliant game winning drive. Did anyone actually see this coming from Bennett? Obviously, he’s a huge upgrade from Kellen Davis (who had a penalty in his first game for the Seahawks on Sunday, by the way), but there was a lot being made about his attitude and inconsistencies. So far, he’s been nothing short of great. Look for him to continue to play well in the coming weeks.
The Vikings are pretty awful. They had every opportunity to win this game, and instead, Bill Musgrave called a pathetic game when Minnesota was in the red-zone, and for it, Adrian Peterson was understandably upset. On the Vikings last drive, all the Vikings had to do was run three times instead of two. This would have most likely used up all of the time on the clock, or close to it, which would probably have the city of Chicago singing a different tune. It also would have given them a better shot to score on 2nd and goal than a floater to the pylon from Christian Ponder.
The Bears now roll into the Steel City, where they are 2-0 and the Steelers are in unchartered territory at 0-2. The Steelers have a lot of issues. They are old on defense, their douchebag 2x Super Bowl champion quarterback hates his douchebag offensive coordinator, and their injuries continue to pile up. It’s never easy to win on the road, especially against a desperate team. The first road game for Marc Trestman will be a big test indeed.
College Football Recap
That was a shameful Saturday of college football. On paper, the best games were Arizona State vs Stanford and Michigan State vs Notre Dame. It turns out, though, that Michigan vs Connecticut was the best contest of the day. The Wolverines trailed at halftime but squeaked out a 3-point win despite trailing after two quarters.
Teddy Bridgewater continues to put up dazzling numbers. Yesterday, he only threw 22 passes but four went for touchdowns. Again, he continues to be the Heisman front runner to this point in the season.
If anyone missed it, College Gameday brought their excitement to Fargo, North Dakota for North Dakota State against Delaware State. I have watched this show for a lot of years, and I cannot remember a more awesome atmosphere. The fans were into it the whole time, and even though schools like Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Clemson, and so on have unbelievable fan bases, this was different. Everyone there has so much pride for their state and school, and they all seemed like they really cherished and appreciated the publicity.
Tonight, it will be cloudless skies and temperatures in the 50’s at kick-off. In other words, it will be a perfect night for football.
Yet again, Chicago is almost fully healthy. Martellus Bennett (shoulder), Kyle Long (back), and Brandon Marshall (back) will all play. Charles Tillman (knee) is questionable but my guess is that he will play. The Steelers, on the other hand, are in awful shape. Star C Maurkice Pouncey (knee), ILB Larry Foote (biceps), and back-up RB and special teams ace Larod Stephens-Howling (knee) are all out for the year. Rookie RB Le’Veon Bell (foot) is questionable, but I don’t think he will play tonight, either. Rookie OLB Jarvis Jones (heal), DE Brent Keisel (calf), CB Curtis Brown (illness) and DT Steve McClendon (hamstring) should all suit up. All-Pro TE Heath Miller (knee) tore his ACL last year and this will most likely be his first game back. Starting CB Cortez Allen (knee) is out today, leaving a huge void in the Steelers’ already porous defense.
Did you know?
The last time a Bears’ head coach started out his career 3-0 was Neill Armstrong in 1978.
I can’t believe it’s already week 3. I’ve had a decent start so far. Let’s continue it today with the Packers over the Bengals, Falcons over the Dolphins, Redskins over the Lions, 49ers over the Colts, and the Giants over the Panthers. (9-2 on the year)
Players to Watch
Antonio Brown- Antonio Brown is really a pretty overrated player, with all things being equal. Of course, he gets a lot of notoriety playing in Pittsburgh, but he’s only played a full season once in his 3+ seasons. He only has 7 career touchdowns as well. However, he and Emmanuel Sanders are the Steelers’ only two true weapons, so the organization gave him a huge $43 million extension last year. Brown is very quick, but their offensive line hasn’t held up in order for Ben Roethlisberger to get him the ball. Starting out 0-2 isn’t exactly common in Western Pennsylvania, and Ed Bouchette from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that during last week’s loss to Cincinnati, Brown “angrily confronted” offensive coordinator Todd Haley. In cases like these, coordinators then tend to force the ball to the upset player. If they force it too much, the Bears’ corners will make them pay.
Troy Polamalu- Troy Polamalu will go down as one of the best safeties ever. Nobody makes a play more exciting than the former USC standout. He’s so athletic and smart, and no pass is ever safe toward the middle of the field against he and Ryan Clark. Polamalu can intercept a pass, jump over the line and sack the quarterback, and lay out a wide receiver at a moment’s notice. Despite being up there in age and probably not as explosive as he once was, Cutler and Trestman need to know where he is on every play. Polamalu can still take over a game. As a Bears’ fan, you do not want to hear his name called a lot today.
Henry Melton- I keep waiting for the defensive line to have a huge game, and I keep being disappointed. However, the Steelers may have the worst interior offensive line in the NFL. With Pouncey out, that leaves them with Titans’ retread Fernando Velasco at center. Ramon Foster is an average guard and second year player out of Stanford, David Decastro, is at the other guard spot. Henry Melton potentially could have a dominant game. Rumors out of Halas Hall say that his preseason concussion has set him back, and maybe two games has done the trick, but that is a shitty excuse for me. If he wants a contract this upcoming offseason close to the one Geno Atkins received, his needs to step up his game starting tonight.
Kyle Long- The Bears have been dominating the run game running behind Kyle Long, ranking 6th in the NFL so far this year at 5.15 yards per carry behind him. However, Long’s pass blocking has been solid but not spectacular thus far. Of course, it’s hard to be perfect when you’re that raw and it’s hard to be picky, but he will definitely have his work cut out for him tonight. Dick LeBeau and his defense will set up complex schemes and blitzes to confuse Long and Jordan Mills. They have passed their first two tests against a dominating Bengals’ defensive line and a Vikings team with two good defensive ends, but it will be imperative for Long along with Mills to succeed tonight if Chicago wants to be 3-0.
Not that the talent level is even, because it’s not, but this is such a tricky game to predict. The Steelers have made excellence their standard for years. They are arguably the best organization in football, and I know that their team, organization, coaches, and fans won’t stand for starting out 0-3, including two home losses. However, the difference in talent between these two teams is so great that they are going to have to literally pull out all of the stops in this game. Their whole offensive line should allow a sleeping giant in the Bears’ defensive line to explode. Their cornerbacks, especially with Cortez Allen being out, shouldn’t be able to match up with Chicago’s weapons. For Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger has to have a special night against a tough defense if the Steelers want to improve to 1-2. However, for the talent discrepancy alone, I’m going with the road team. Bears 17-16. (2-0 on the year)
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)