The win last week was very satisfying. The reason why: the Bears finally have coaches who can make halftime adjustments. Over the past couple of years, the Bears were absolutely putrid when trailing at halftime. Aside from one drive in the first half, the offense was generating nothing. They came out in the 3rd quarter, put up points on a good defense, and ended up winning the game, with some help from the Bengals, proving that they still have a team full of assclowns. Another reason it was fun to watch: the Bears finally have a real offensive line. Don’t get me wrong, they might not finish as a top 10 offensive line. I can guarantee, however, that they won’t finish as a pitiful one. As I mentioned last week, Jordan Mills needed to have a good game but instead had an unbelievable one. On the 4th and 1 play that Jay Cutler referred to as “ballsy,” Marc Trestman trusted Mills enough to run a toss play behind him. Low and behold, he and Tony Fiammetta hit their blocks and Matt Forte got the first down. Cutler also made three great plays with his feet, one being a scramble (that should have netted a 15 yard penalty as well), and that was the ballgame.
The Vikings might as well be renamed the Petersons. They have nothing on offense in terms of weapons, with the exception of Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph. Christian Ponder absolutely sucks, Greg Jennings threw his career away by signing with them, Cordarrelle Patterson is still raw, and Jerome Simpson is a fucking knucklehead. Also, the best fullback in football, Jerome Felton, is still suspended for Minnesota. Their two tackles are very good, but their guards are nothing to write home about, and that should allow Stephen Paea, Henry Melton, and Nate Collins to apply pressure on Ponder.
Like the Bengals, the Vikings have a good defensive line, and like the Bengals, they don’t have any linebackers. Jared Allen and Brian Robison are good players, but they’re not the same on grass. I fully trust Mills and Jermon Bushrod to handle them, too. Chad Greenway is decent, but Erin Henderson is so-so. They are similar to Cincinnati in another way: they signed a rival’s linebacker, Desmond Bishop. Like James Harrison though, they don’t use him a lot because he’s a pedestrian player.
This one is a big game for Minnesota. If they start the year 0-2, their season is probably over. They just don’t have the talent to make up that deficit, especially with teams like Seattle, Baltimore, Green Bay twice, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Washington, Dallas, and New York still on their schedule.
College Football Recap
Last week, I said that Texas A&M was going to have a rough time with Alabama if their defense played like it did against Rice and Sam Houston State. Well, their defense blew again and so they had a rough time with Alabama. Johnny Manziel had no chance. His defense let him down, and even though he threw interceptions, it was going to be impossible for the Aggies to win with the defensive showing that they had.
USC needs to fire Lane Kiffin. It seems like an odd time to say this after a pounding of Boston College, but last week they fell to a horrible Washington State team. Where was yesterday’s game plan against the Cougars eight days ago? He is a moron, plain and simple. His record since taking over in Southern California is very mediocre, and he’s 1-5 against Oregon and Stanford. Hell, he can’t even recruit anymore; their recruiting class is ranked 44th in the country at the moment, behind god damn Rice. Kirby Smart (Alabama DC), Scott Frost (Oregon OC), Chris Petersen (Boise State HC), Jeff Fisher (Rams HC), and Jack Del Rio (Broncos DC) are all better options for the Trojans, among many others.
It looks like the radar is showing in the mid-60’s with a very good chance of rain today. Combined with the fact that Washington played Illinois yesterday on the surface, the rain should help the Bears against a dome team.
The Bears are very healthy yet again. Charles Tillman (knee) is fine as is Julius Peppers (illness). The Vikings are as well. Center John Sullivan (knee) is good to go after Ndamukong Suh dove at his knees like a jackass last week. DT Kevin Williams (knee), RT Phil Loadholt (knee), and CB Josh Robinson (quad) will all play.
Did you know?
Jay Cutler has thrown 17 career touchdowns against the Vikings, the most he has thrown against any team.
This week, I like the Cowboys over the Chiefs, Saints over the Bucs, Bills over the Panthers, Broncos over the Giants, Packers over the Redskins, and for an upset, the Dolphins over the Colts. (4-1 on the season)
Players to Watch
Adrian Peterson- Adrian Peterson continues to play at an extremely high level. I’m not surprised. He’s better now than he was two years ago before a gruesome knee injury. He took his first carry last week for a 78-yard touchdown. However, he has to be frustrated. The offense is strictly on his shoulders each and every week. Despite his three touchdowns a week ago, Minnesota still lost a winnable game in Detroit. For that reason, he has to be thinking “what else can I do?” He has a point. As I mentioned earlier, Ponder is very average and his receivers aren’t any good. Kyle Rudolph is a solid tight end, but it doesn’t do him any good that he doesn’t have a quarterback who can get him the ball. The Bears focus today will be stopping the run. They are going to put 8 and 9 guys in the box and let Ponder, Jennings and Simpson attempt to beat Chicago’s secondary.
Devin Hester- In my preseason article about the keys to a success year, I said that Devin Hester has to find a way to make an impact this year. Do I expect 3-5 touchdowns? Probably not, but this could get a game where he can reintroduce himself. The Vikings cut Chris Kluwe in the offseason due to his ineptitude and stupidity. They found his replacement in the draft, Jeff Locke, out of UCLA. Locke had a decent game in Detroit, but this is outdoors now. This isn’t a dome and it certainly isn’t Southern California. It’s also not his typical Pac-12 punt returner. Mike Priefer, Vikings special teams coach, has most likely been preaching all week on kicking away from Hester. That can put a lot of pressure on a rookie punter. Eventually, that can result in two things: kicking it right to Hester or shanking a punt. Let’s hope each happens.
Julius Peppers- A lot has come out of Halas Hall this week about Julius Peppers potentially being injured because he had ONE bad game. I know after a win there is nothing to write and talk about, but it’s not like Peppers was the only guy who struggled to get to Andy Dalton. Peppers has always played well against Minnesota. Against Loadholt and Matt Kalil in addition to a shitty field, it won’t be easy this week, but I expect Peppers to have a solid game.
Unless Peterson breaks an NFL record of some kind and the Bears lay a huge egg, I look at this game as a hard one for Chicago to lose. After a come-from-behind win like they had last week against a good Bengals team, the Bears as well as the 61,500 at Soldier Field will be ready to go. Bears 27-13. (1-0 on the year)
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)