While I picked the Bears to lose to the Eagles, I never expected it to turn out the way it did. As predicted by most, LeSean McCoy had his way with the pathetic Chicago defense. After just six offensive plays run by Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler, the Eagles had 21 points, giving the Bears zero chance of winning the game. On Philadelphia’s first drive, they scored rather easily, and shortly thereafter, Devin Hester fumbled the ball away. This allowed the Eagles to go up 14-0, so Hester fumbled more than just the ball.
There isn’t much more to say about that atrocity. The Bears were beaten, and beaten badly at that, in every facet of football on Monday. The special teams unit continues to be a major disappointment as does the defense. The offense wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but the deficit forced pass-first and pass-only play calls throughout the obliteration. Luckily for Chicago, the season can be salvaged with a win today. The Bears welcome the Packers into town, a team that has had their number for the last 6 or so years. It’s a winner-take-all game, as the victorious team gets a home game in the first week of the playoffs and the other will be watching on television.
The Packers, once again, have been decimated by injuries. They have lost Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, James Jones, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb to significant time this season. In the past, they were able to make up for injuries, but injuries to three of the best pass catchers, best passing rusher, and their best player in general is too much for any team to overcome. Back in November, the Bears went to Green Bay and saw a defense that was giving up big plays in the pass game and one that was getting gashed on the ground; things haven’t changed. Last week, they played the Steelers tough but lost in the end. Both of these teams have a terrific opportunity to get to the playoffs after mediocre seasons. Which team will capitalize?
College Football Recap
There have been quite a few bowl games since the Bears last played, and two of them were local teams. Northern Illinois lost to Utah State, showing once again that had they played in a BCS game, they would have been annihilated. Notre Dame won at Yankee Stadium yesterday against Rutgers.
I won’t waste my or anyone else’s time with recaps of each game.
This contest has the potential to be another one of those games where the temperature could feel like it’s in the single digits at the end of it. In terms of precipitation, there could be some snow, and as for wind, it’s going to be howling anywhere from 20-35 mph.
The Bears are doing fine, with the exception of Earl Bennett (personal); he is “highly questionable,” in Marc Trestman’s words. That would open up opportunities for Marquess Wilson and hopefully not Eric Weems. Lance Briggs (shoulder) is probable. Green Bay is getting healthier. Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) will play today for the first time since Shea McClellin sacked him on November 4 (interestingly enough, that’s the last time McClellin laid a finger on a quarterback, I believe). WR Randall Cobb (knee) and Eddie Lacy (ankle) are playing today, too. DE Mike Neal (chest) and LB Nick Perry (foot) are probable. With all that being said, Clay Matthews won’t play today, as he broke his thumb once again.
Did you know?
If the Bears somehow score 41 points today, they will break the franchise record for points scored in a season of 456 points set in 1985.
At this time of the year with a lot of meaningless games being played, I will just reflect on my preseason predictions. In my first forecast of the year, I picked my two rookies of the year to be Giovani Bernard and Star Lotulelei. Both have been decent players who will have good futures, but they won’t win the award. I also picked Ndamukong Suh to win defensive player of the year; he has been good, but I don’t think he’s going to take it home. Matt Ryan is definitely not going to win the MVP, and he’s not going to lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl like I had predicted, either. I did predict Denver to get to East Rutherford, so there is still a chance of that. In other words, all of my predictions, except one, stunk. (37-28-1 on the year)
Players to Watch
Eddie Lacy- Eddie Lacy has been one of the great surprises of the year for Green Bay. The Packers pounced on him after he somehow fell deep into the draft. Lacy hasn’t lost a beat since January, when he and the rest of the Crimson Tide destroyed Notre Dame in the National Championship; Lacy has surpassed 1,100 yards already. Lacy’s only weakness is his speed and his injury problems, but he shouldn’t have any problem exposing the truly despicable Bears’ run defense. That dreadful defense has given up 2,400 rushing yards this year, and the next closest hasn’t given up 2,100. Lacy is going to have a solid game. Let’s hope it’s not a great one.
Tim Jennings- This whole lack-of-a-pass-rush thing hasn’t gotten really, really old. Shea McClellin sucks and David Bass doesn’t play. With the exception of Jeremiah Ratliff, the defensive tackles- Corey Wootton, Landon Cohen, Stephen Paea- stink. On that note, I was going to make this player to watch Julius Peppers. I believe that he has to be a factor today. If Aaron Rodgers can sit back there for 5+ seconds every snap, he’s going to throw for 400 yards in a Green Bay win. The Bears are dead last in the league in sacks with 28. If, or when, they don’t get any pressure on Rodgers, they are going to rely heavily on Tim Jennings. When the Bears signed Jennings in 2010, nobody expected him to be the player he has become. He has a tough job ahead of him today against James Jones, Randall Cobb, or Jordy Nelson, but I trust him more than any other player in that secondary.
Brandon Marshall- Much has been made of the legacy of Brandon Marshall. Make no mistake, Marshall has had a Hall of Fame type career in this league. However, he has never caught a pass in a playoff game. He has never been shy about expressing his negative feelings toward the Packers. He has made it clear that his only goals remaining as a professional are related to the playoffs. So, combine the two and Marshall is going to want to have a huge game today. The Packers’ defense as a whole has been very suspect, so he shouldn’t have a problem against their weak secondary.
Jay Cutler- I tweeted the other day that Jay Cutler’s weekly press conference was very shameful and troubling. He proceeded to show that he did not give a shit about what anyone there thought and clearly avoided question after question in regards to his puzzling struggles against the Pack. Cutler can shut up a lot of people with a great individual performance today, especially if Chicago can also pick up the win. If not, it might make Phil Emery’s decision on moving on to another quarterback that much simpler. There are no excuses anymore for Cutler. The Bears’ offensive line has been a pleasant surprise. He has never had more weapons in his career. This is the best coaching staff he has ever had. Once again, Green Bay’s defense has been up and down, but mostly down, and it won’t be easier for the Packers without Clay Matthews as his yeast infection is once again acting up.
For years and years, I have hoped and prayed that the Bears would overtake the Packers in the division and ultimately become what the Packers have- a juggernaut in the conference. It hasn’t transpired that way for Chicago, and I’m not sure where the blame lies. I’d like to believe that after their win earlier in the season in Green Bay that Marc Trestman and Phil Emery are going to help turn it all around. I will say one thing: one thing in common with every Bears loss to the Packers is Jay Cutler. As I said, Cutler has been downright horrible in his career against Green Bay. Whether it’s been up in that dump or here in Chicago, he’s been really bad. I would absolutely love to pick the Bears, but I made a promise to myself last year that I’m done picking them the Bears in games against the Packers until I know that Cutler can beat them. I’m sticking to it. Packers 30-20. (10-5 on the year)