I understand that the Bears have been decimated by injuries this year, but this has gone way too far. To go to St. Louis, a young and very average team, and get embarrassed by a rookie running back not named Zac Stacy and who is also an undrafted free agent is unforgivable. Mel Tucker was brought in to maintain a relatively strong defense while they have a small transition phase, but he hasn’t done that. Jon Bostic was brutal last week, as was Chris Conte (what else is new?). The entire defensive line was terrible, too. They allowed huge gain after huge gain on the ground to the Rams, and they combined that with almost no pressure on Kellen Clemens. Julius Peppers mustered up only one tackle, and Shea McClellin was back to his normal, stinky self.
Marc Trestman didn’t have one of his better games either. Once again, he decided to not take 3 points on the goal line, and Michael Bush ran right into a defender from the Rams. It doesn’t help when your first offensive possession goes for one play and that play is a lost fumble inside your own 10-yard line. Another issue has been the penalties. Through the first handful of games, it wasn’t a problem, but now it is. If this was Lovie Smith, people would be remarkably upset. Trestman’s team has now committed 23 penalties in two games, and that’s unacceptable. When a team has it’s back-up quarterback in the game and the defense is horrible, giving teams extra plays and free first downs will always come back to bite that team in the ass, and for Chicago, it has. However, it’s hard to fault Trestman for the way the season has gone. He was brought in to give this organization some offensive firepower which is exactly what he has done. The Bears have scored 18 or more points in every game so far this year, and that has never been done in their history.
Had the Vikings lost last week, they would have the #1 overall pick in the draft if the season ended today. However, they tied, and so they would pick fourth. Hopefully the Bears won’t, but I know a lot of fans have underestimated the Vikings for that reason. They have a lot of holes, specifically in their secondary. They also are a pretty banged up team. Their head coach might be brain dead and their coordinators aren’t much brighter. Nonetheless, they have talented players on their roster. The Bears only hope to get into the playoffs is to win the NFC North. As of now, they would lose almost every wildcard tiebreaker, and Carolina and San Francisco haven’t been letting up at all. The Bears surely have a better team than Minnesota does, but it’s never easy to win in Minneapolis.
College Football Recap
Of course, the game of the day was Auburn and Alabama, and it definitely lived up to expectations. Alabama was leading this game 21-7 and 28-21, but Auburn scored a game-tying touchdown in the final minute. Alabama found a way to get into position to kick a game-winning field goal, but it came up short, and the Tigers returned it all the way for a touchdown. It will go down as one of the best games in college football history. Next week, Missouri and Auburn will face off for the SEC Championship.
Another big game took place in Los Angeles between UCLA and USC, but the Trojans were dominated. Brett Hundley had his way and showed everyone why some NFL scouts love him. USC’s lack of depth because of their loss of scholarships really caught up to them, as they lost two offensive linemen in the contest.
Duke won again and will play Florida State for the ACC Championship in Charlotte. Nobody expected much of anything from the Blue Devils (as usual), but David Cutcliffe has done a great job.
The Bears’ injury list continues to grow. Matt Forte (knee) is probable. Stephen Paea (toe) and Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) are questionable, but I think both will play. This will be huge for the interior of the Bears’ defensive line. Lance Briggs (shoulder) and Jay Cutler (ankle) are still out. Major Wright (hamstring) is questionable. Minnesota has been hit by injuries pretty hard this year. Three of their most impactful players–LB Desmond Bishop (knee), S Harrison Smith (toe), and TE Kyle Rudolph (foot)–are all out for this game. Rookie CB Xavier Rhodes (head), DT Kevin Williams (quad), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), S Andrew Sendejo (foot) and WR Joe Webb (head) are probable. Adrian Peterson didn’t practice all week, but he will definitely play.
Did you know?
The Bears haven’t led by more than 7 points since October 10 when they hosted the Giants.
What do you know? It was another solid week for me, as the only game I didn’t get right ended in a tie. This weekend, I like the Seahawks, Chargers, Panthers, Colts, and in an upset, the Chiefs over the Broncos. (29-21-1 on the year)
Players to Watch
Adrian Peterson- I have a feeling that every game from here on out, the opposing running back will be the player to watch. It helps when the opposing running back might be the best back anyone has seen over the last 15 years. Adrian Peterson is a beast (understatement of the day). The Bears’ run defense is now dead last in yards per carry given up (4.9) and yards per game given up (145.2), and it’s not going to be any easier today against Peterson. Last week, he ran over and around Packers’ defenders to the tune of 146 yards on 32 carries plus one touchdown. Green Bay made Christian Ponder look like a Pro-Bowl quarterback last week, and Chicago will do the same today if Peterson dominates like he’s expected to.
Josh McCown- Eventually, Josh McCown’s luck is going to run out. McCown has never been a good quarterback, and he will openly admit that. However, he may have one more week left in him. The Vikings, as previously mentioned, are pathetic against the pass, giving up more than 280 yards per week. Their yards per attempt allowed is pretty ordinary as well. This game may turn into a shootout, thanks to these two bad defenses. If it does, the Bears will absolutely need McCown to make some plays, especially with Matt Forte most likely not being 100 percent.
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to pick this game. Two weeks ago, the Bears beat the reigning Super Bowl champions at home, and last week, they lost in dominating fashion to St. Louis. Counting week 6, the Bears have alternated wins and losses each week. Going off of that and the fact that the Vikings are horrible, Chicago will win this one. I’m not buying it. I saw last week up close and personal (too close for my own health) how bad the Bears’ defense really is, and as I said, that was against an undrafted player. Why would anyone expect differently against the best player at that position, maybe at any position, in the game? I think Josh McCown will put up some points, but with an injured Matt Forte on the road in the Bears’ last game ever at the dumpy Metrodome, this is going to be too tough. I hope I’m wrong, as the division is still a real possibility. Vikings 30-24. (6-5 on the year)
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)