The Forecast- Lions vs Bears

Sometimes, I love being wrong. This is one of those cases. The Bears went up to Lambeau Field and beat the Packers in a game between two back-up quarterbacks. Luckily, Josh McCown actually deserves to pick up a check every week while Seneca Wallace does not. McCown managed the game perfectly, and my lone Bears player to watch, Matt Forte, dominated on the ground yet again against a stellar Packers’ run defense. I won’t go as far as saying that if Shea McClellin does nothing else in his career as a Chicago Bear, at least he gave the Bears a shot at winning the NFC North this season, but it could be huge going forward. It may even give McClellin some confidence in the coming weeks. With news that Aaron Rodgers is out for at least three weeks with a broken collarbone, this divisional race may come down to the Bears and Lions.

Before I get to the Lions, I want to get something off of my chest. THE BEARS DID NOT GET “LUCKY” ON MONDAY NIGHT.
–The Bears hurt Aaron Rodgers. It wasn’t like he sprained his ankle a week ago, or he was running on Monday and somehow came up limping. McClellin broke his stupid collarbone. Period.
–The Bears were without their quarterback (Cutler), an All-Pro outside linebacker (Briggs), and one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the NFL (Melton). Charles Tillman also was not 100 percent. Had the Packers one, I bet there wouldn’t be any “lucky” discussions.
–Does Rodgers play defense?

Let’s move on now. Speaking of the Lions, those hooligans are in town today. The Lions are coming off of a big come from behind win against the Cowboys and then a bye week, and their offense is very dangerous. Detroit’s offensive line is giving the ever-pudgy Matthew Stafford just enough time to find Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Kris Durham, and as usual, the Lions defensive line continues to pressure the quarterback. Ndamukong Suh’s stats don’t show it, but he has been flat out dominant this year, and Nick Fairley is that much better with teams giving Suh the majority of their focus. Given that their tackles have been so good, no one can say the same about their ends. Teams have been running to the edges and averaging more than 5 yards per carry. Today is going to be a battle on the Lakefront, and after Chicago’s big win in Green Bay, this has the potential to be the game of the week across the whole NFL.

College Football Recap
Going back to Thursday, there were three great college football games. Baylor hosted Oklahoma, Oregon traveled down to Stanford, and LSU made the short flight to Tuscaloosa. In a way, all of the games were disappointing. Baylor crushed the Sooners, and the Cardinal dominated Oregon for three quarters. In the grand finale, Alabama obliterated LSU and seems like the clear favorite to win the national championship.

Johnny Manziel had another unreal performance. He continues to impress everyone, and with Oregon’s loss and FSU’s blowout, it seems like he may be inching toward a second straight Heisman trophy.

Weather
It should be a perfect November day for football. Temperatures will stay in the 40’s and the skies will be totally clear. Wind may be a small factor.

Injury report
Chris Mortensen reported on Monday that Jay Cutler (groin) would likely start today, and he was right. Cutler is back. The aforementioned Shea McClellin, however, tweaked his hamstring in practice on Wednesday and is doubtful. Joe Anderson (chest/groin) was put on injured reserve during the week, so he is done for the remainder of the year. Patrick Mannelly will miss today’s game (calf), and that is very rare for him. On the other side of the field, WR Nate Burleson remains out (arm) for the Lions. DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), Starting RT Corey Hilliard (knee) and CB Bill Bentley (knee) are all doubtful. RB Reggie Bush (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), and S Louis Delmas (knee) are probable.

Did you know?
The Bears’ offensive line has only committed one false start this year. The Giants, Colts, and Dolphins are tied for second with four.

NFL Predictions
We’re in the home stretch. I’d like to finish above .500 for the year. To turn it around, give me the Broncos in a blowout against the Charges, 49ers to crush the Panthers, Saints to knock off the Cowboys, and for two upsets, the Ravens over the Bengals and the Falcons to top the Seahawks. (18-18 on the year)

Players to Watch
Calvin Johnson- Once again, Calvin Johnson is having a monster season. He has 821 yards on just 47 receptions, which comes out to 17.5 yards per catch. He has 7 touchdowns, too. In the last meeting with Detroit, the Bears held him to only 44 yards on 4 receptions. It would be absolutely huge to hold Johnson to that again, because anytime you can take a team’s best player out the game it greatly benefits your chances of winning, obviously. It won’t be easy and I’m not counting on it (thanks a lot, Chris Conte).

Reggie Bush- Everyone now knows that the Bears’ run defense is awful, so I expect Reggie Bush to get a lot of touches today, on the ground and through the air. It won’t be as easy for Bush this time on the Soldier Field sod, as it always seems to negate some speed and cutting ability for the shiftier players in football. Bush has only gone for more than 92 yards once this year, and that was against the Bears. Bush and Johnson are the Lions two most explosive players, and so with just some containment, Detroit’s offense could struggle.

Julius Peppers- Maybe it’s a night game thing. In Pittsburgh, Julius Peppers had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and in Green Bay, he had an interception and a sack. If it is, he will probably struggle today, since it is a noon start. However, his only other sack this year came against Detroit. In fact, he has 12 sacks and 6 forced fumbles in 11 career games against the Lions. As I said, Shea McClellin won’t play today, but even if he had, I wasn’t going to predict that he would have another great game. The Bears need Peppers today to slow down Detroit’s well-oiled offensive machine. A sack or two and a solid game in run defense, where the Bears really struggled the last time these two teams met, will do the trick. Keep in mind that Detroit’s offensive line has only given up 10 sacks this year, and that is the best in football.

The Forecast
This is yet another game that can go either way. The Lions got the best of the Bears back in September, but the Bears got crushed in the turnover battle and they only lost by 8. Detroit is a solid team this year. Proof of that is the fact that they haven’t Detroit Lion’d a game…yet. Ndamukong Suh hasn’t tried to commit homicide so far and Jim Schwartz hasn’t pissed down his leg up to now. For Chicago, it sure would be nice to win this one with three straight winnable contests ahead. The good feelings from the win in Green Bay with the addition of the excitement of Cutler’s return and a little homefield advantage mixed in is the difference today. Bears 33-30. (5-3 on the year)

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

Friday 5: Lions at Bears 2013

I admit it. I proclaimed it. I had totally, completely lost faith in the Bears beating the Green Bay Packers on November 4th. I kept faith in 2008, 2009, in the 2010 NFC Championship, in portions of the 2011 and 2012 season. Not so much the late games in those years. But this year I had to completely write off their chances. And the Bears finally beat the Packers for only the second time in five years. And I loved it. The MVP’s for the Bears were abundant: Marc Trestman for the game he called including the gutsy fourth-down attempt, the offensive line, Josh McCown‘s brilliant play, Matt Forte‘s execution, Shea McClellin, Julius Peppers. Who have I missed?

Speaking of McClellin, he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-sack performance. Way to come out of the shell for which he’s been criticized all at once. I don’t have the time to watch the “all-22″ coaches’ film, but I have heard that once again Julius Peppers laid it on the line in the background to sacrifice for the other linemen.

Certainly, Aaron Rodgers‘ first significant injury in his brilliant career as a starter was the difference in the game. I hate to see a player get injured, and Rodgers is a phenomenal player and seemingly a good guy. But the Bears have deserved a break to come their way in the Bears-Packers series for a long, long time. Let me explain. Of course the Packer organization deserves the credit for drafting and developing great players over the last 20 years. But there is no way anyone could claim they haven’t had some damn good fortune as well. In 1992 the Atlanta Falcons gave away Brett Favre. Yes, they got a first-round pick back, but don’t you think they’d re-do that trade in a heartbeat if they could? So Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback and plays without missing a game for Green Bay for 16 seasons. In 2005, Aaron Rodgers drops in the draft all the way to the 24th pick. So the Packers are lucky as hell that 23 other teams passed on another Hall of Fame quarterback (including the Bears, who took Cedric Benson 20 picks before). Now Rodgers as well has been more durable than 99% of quarterbacks, which is part skill and conditioning but a large part good fortune as well. The Packers have had extremely good luck, and it’s about time the Bears received a little.

Jay Cutler is playing Sunday, just one game after a four-game injury diagnosis. Anyone else think he and the Bears might be better off starting Josh McCown for one more game?

Prediction anyone?

The Forecast- Bears vs Packers

I desperately wanted to pick the Redskins in my last forecast. Honestly, I went back and forth with myself all week, but I went with the Bears. Clearly, I underestimated how bad the Bears’ defense really is. They were solid in the first half, but in the end, Josh McCown got them 31 points and they still lost. Had you told me when Jay Cutler went down with an injury that McCown would put up that many points, I would have said that the Bears would be 5-2 right now. Injuries have really hurt this team, literally and figuratively, but Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin are just unbelievably horrible right now. This leaves the secondary, which isn’t any good to begin with either, in a position where they have to cover opposing players for 5-8 seconds. The worst part of watching the game against Washington was knowing that had Cutler taken that sack and hopped back up normally like he usually does, they probably still would have lost, thanks to the defense.

Green Bay comes into this game as the class of the NFC North (yes, the class of the NFC North. Don’t start with Detroit, because those screwballs will find a way to mess it up like usual). Like in years past, the Packers are playing with a lot of injuries yet continue to put up points and knock around the opposing quarterback. An argument can be made that Aaron Rodgers is the second best quarterback in football right now. They now have a running game as well, making their offense that much better. They plug in weapons all over the field and they all make an impact. I watch these guys each and every week and get filled with rage/envy with how quickly and effectively they grow players. They may be the best organization in the sport. Tonight, the Bears face a huge challenge that, on paper, almost looks improbable.

College Football Recap
Florida State continues to roll. Even when the Heisman front runner only throws one touchdown, they still manage to beat the #7 overall team in the country by 27 points.

I think the Big-10 is boring and stupid, but Michigan State might be the best team in the country that nobody knows about. Their #1 overall defense in the country showed up once again yesterday. In case nobody heard, Michigan had -48 (yes, negative forty-eight) rushing yards against that defense. The Spartans even cut Devin Gardner’s day short, as they knocked him out of the game due to injury in the fourth quarter. It would be interesting to see Michigan State play Ohio State in the Big-10 Championship if both teams continue to win.

Two losses won’t help, but Johnny Manziel should get a lot of Heisman votes. He might be having a better season this year than the Heisman-winning season he had last year. Manziel and the rest of his team destroyed UTEP yesterday, and Manziel accounted for 340+ yards and 6 touchdowns. If Manziel keeps that up, he’s going to be invited to New York once again.

Weather
Typically, wind isn’t a factor in Green Bay, but it will be tonight with projected 10-15 mph gusts during the game. The temperatures should dip into the mid-40’s as well and there is a slight chance of showers.

Injury report
The best news of the past 23 days for the Bears is that Jay Cutler’s injury is now looking like it is going to be a 2-3 week injury and so he will be back for the Lions or Ravens contest. However, the news didn’t get any better with Lance Briggs (shoulder), who is out for at least four weeks with a fracture. Charles Tillman (knee) is still not 100 percent but will give it a go tonight, as will Blake Costanzo (knee) and Major Wright (knee). Joe Anderson is questionable (chest). For the Packers, LB Clay Matthews (thumb) and WR Randall Cobb (knee) are both out as they are each still rehabbing their injuries. TE Jermichael Finley took a nasty hit on October 20 against Cleveland and remains severely injured (neck). I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t play again this season. WR James Jones (knee) is questionable but should play while OLB Nick Perry (foot) is doubtful. LB Brad Jones (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (toes), and TE Ryan Taylor (knee) will play.

Did you know?
The Bears have given up 206 points through seven games. That is a new franchise record.

NFL Predictions
N/A. (18-18 on the year)

Players to Watch
Eddie Lacy- No running back in football had a better October than Eddie Lacy. Lacy is an outstanding rookie out of Alabama, who I’m sure many will remember as the guy who run over and around Manti Te’o and his overrated Notre Dame defense repeatedly in January. Lacy somehow fell in the draft, and of course he has turned into a nice weapon for Green Bay. Lacy is a power back, but he has shiftiness and underrated speed to boot. Anytime you can take the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers with a running game, he becomes that much more dangerous, and judging from the last four weeks, Rodgers is just that. Look for Lacy to get the ball at least 25 times tonight. If the Bears horseshit defense can find a way to limit his production, they have a chance tonight.

A.J. Hawk- A.J. Hawk has always been an overrated linebacker. Whenever a player consistently get handed a starting job in the league, the general public gets the idea that the certain player is having a nice career. To this point, Hawk has not been a good player for the Packers since he was drafted, but this year, he’s been exceptional. He needs just a half of a sack to match his season high. He is making plays all over the field. For the first time in Hawk’s career, the Bears have to game plan for him and ensure that he doesn’t take the game over like he has done a few times this year already.

Matt Forte- Matt Forte is proving once again that he is one of the best players in the NFL. Last week, Forte went over 100 total yards in a game for the fifth time this season already. He topped his stellar individual game off with three touchdowns as well. The Packers are fourth in football in rushing defense, giving up only about 84 yards on the ground each week. Forte has to find a way to get close to that number and have a few impactful catches, because I don’t trust Josh McCown to play another game like he did in Washington, despite the Pack being 20th in pass defense.

The Forecast
The Packers have a guy named Micah Hyde who ran back a punt last week in Minnesota. Jamari Lattimore is a third year linebacker who is playing extremely well. Davon House is a cornerback who is having an unheralded season. Green Bay just finds these guys who all perform even in the most desperate of times. When another team does this, it seems like a miracle but for Green Bay, it’s just more of the same. Of the 53 players on the roster, only 3 have played with another team in their career. That is how you draft and pick up undrafted free agents, something Phil Emery and every general manager strives for. Unfortunately for Chicago, the Packers are the league’s best when it comes to it. At one time, Green Bay’s three biggest weaknesses was the kicking game, running game, and the offensive line, but all of them are now strengths. It’s hard to see the Bears actually winning this game, despite Aaron Rodgers’ shockingly bad career record on Monday Night Football. In primetime in Wisconsin with Josh McCown and a bad defense with two rookie linebackers, I’m taking the Pack. I wouldn’t be surprised though if this game is closer. Packers 37-23. (5-2 on the year)

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

Curse of the Honey Bears

The Honey BearsI don’t truly believe in curses, even as a Cubs and Bears fan. And I don’t remember anyone associated with the Honey Bears saying anything about the team not going back to the Super Bowl after their contract wasn’t renewed for 1986.

I enjoyed watching the Honey Bears immensely when I was a little kid going to Bears games with my Dad. I thought they were a cool part of the package of being a Bears fan. But for whatever reason, “ownership” of the Bears will only say that they don’t think cheerleaders are a proper part of football. Right after the announcement in 1985, the team officially answered the question of “why” with a question. “Have cheerleaders become passe?” 30 years later, I’d say they haven’t.

What do you think?

Top 10 NFL Curses Appearance

I most certainly will have egg on my face if my interview didn’t make the cut, but here goes nothing. In March 2013 I was interviewed for NFL Network’s Top 10 series on several Bears-related subjects. If my interviews don’t end up landing on the cutting room floor, this will probably be the pinnacle of my broadcast opportunities for my lifetime. It was a great experience and I’m super thankful to the network for asking me to participate. I was interviewed by Bob Angelo, a great guy and a legend at NFL Films.

Saturday night November 2nd at 8 p.m. Central on NFL Network, the first new episode that should feature my comments is set to air: “Top Ten NFL Curses.” There will be some very fun topics, including one involving the Bears. I’m thinking it will probably be featured very early in the episode.

I hope to end up making the cut on several more episodes that haven’t yet aired. If I make any of them, it most certainly should be this episode. I talked to Bob and his staff for 90 minutes, which he said hopefully will get around 50 seconds of comments used in bursts.

Enjoy the show! Just after it airs, I’ll post something new on the Chicago Bears Blog and BearsHistory.com if anyone wants to weigh in on the curse involving the Chicago Bears.

Bears at Packers 2013

A few quick thoughts on the upcoming Monday Night Football game at Green Bay.

- It is well known that the Bears continue to run the same defense as they did under Lovie Smith for eight seasons. It’s “bend but don’t break,” try to force turnovers while forcing the opposition to get yardage a little at a time, and to not allow long plays. This defensive system MUST have a strong pass rush from the four down linemen. No pass rush from the four down linemen, and it’s FAIL. No pass rush from four down linemen plus Aaron Rodgers, and I’m sorry to say the Bears could be toast quickly on Monday. They currently rank 27th of 32 teams defensively.

- Sorry to once again bring up the miserable stats vs. Green Bay, but I have to. Mike Ditka had a 15-5 record against the Packers in 10 seasons. Since Michael McCaskey fired Ditka, the Bears have lost 30 of 41 games against Green Bay (including the 2010 NFC Championship game at home). I’d love to see the Bears pull off a shocking upset Monday, proving that they still have a chance to win in 2013 despite all their injuries. I’ve convinced myself that the Bears would finally do it many times over the last 41 games, and have usually been wrong. I’m not even trying to convince myself anymore.

- Speaking of the injuries, in addition to Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on offense, the Bears are now forced to start rookies Khaseem Greene and Jon Bostic at linebacker for the foreseeable future. Not to mention a heavy dose of young, unproven players on the defensive line, including Zach Minter, Landon Cohen and David Bass. With Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers have brushed off significant injuries at receiver to not miss a beat. It would be nice to see the Bears shock by improving on defense with the injuries, but I’m not counting on it.

- I like reading Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, so no sleight here. I was surprised he wrote this, though. Last week, before the Bears’ ugly loss at Washington, in his 32-team rankings Biggs wrote of Green Bay: “After the 1-2 start, who would have thought they would be atop the NFC North?” I DID. It always happens.

- The 3-0 start this season may have had myself and other Bears fans dreaming of one more push for the Super Bowl before the window closes on this group. Should the Bears fall to 4-4 after a loss at Green Bay, then lose to Detroit at home, tell me how there is any hope left in this season with a 4-5 start? They would have to play flawless football, avoid further injuries (doubtful) and have great fortune thrown in to finish no worse than 6-1 to have any hope. Then next year, remember there is no choice but a rebuild in order. 30 players have contracts expiring. This team needs playmakers on the defensive line and secondary. It will be interesting. Hopefully not depressing though.

Turning Point 2013

I entered the 2013 Chicago Bears season as usual. Hoping for the best but with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many experts predicted that the team would finish around 7-9 or 8-8. Most predicted they would lose to the juggernaut Cincinnati Bengals at home in the opener. Personally I thought they would win the opener, and that they would finish this season better than 7-9 or 8-8.

How could they not finish better than 7-9 or 8-8? They were 10-6 in 2012. Their offensive line is greatly improved with the addition of a free agent, a Pro Bowl free agent and two rookies. They returned most of their defense and are using the same system that had been successful in the past. They hired a new coaching staff that understands offense better than any staff since Mike Ditka’s. They started 3-0, and true excitement was back for those brief few weeks.

Then, the following intervened:

- It’s immediately evident that the pass rush from the defensive linemen has dropped off from 2012.
- Peanut Tillman is not consistently healthy.
- As the team is wrapping up the third win in a row to begin the season, their Pro Bowl three-technique defensive tackle (Henry Melton) is lost for the season.
- Melton’s replacement, Nick Collins, for whom everyone had high hopes, is lost for the season.
- As the Bears lose three of four games following the 3-0 start, they lose starting quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive captain Lance Briggs for probably what will be longer than six weeks.

After this week’s bye, the Bears face the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field on Monday night. What looked to be a game that may determine the leader of the division instead is a game that may determine the Bears’ ultimate fate this year. Beat the Packers and this battered team may have a chance. Lose, and the 4-4 Bears may have to start looking to 2014.

Last Sunday at Washington, the Bears played a Redskins team they should have beaten. Instead it turned into the first game in Chicago Bears History in which they scored 40 points and lost (45-41). More on this as the season progresses, but this game reminded me of many from the 1989 Chicago Bears season. That year their offense was scoring points capably, but it seemed in every game there was no hope that the defense could hold the lead.

The Forecast- Bears vs Redskins

I really love the progress the Bears offense continues to make. Once again, they didn’t give up any sacks against an underachieving yet dangerous Giants team. Jay Cutler hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 94 passes. Matt Forte is on pace for 1,000 rushing 600 receiving yards. If only they can start to get Forte in a rhythm between the tackles…

The defense, on a different note, continues to disappoint. I understand that they took the ball away three times against the Giants, but everyone has been doing that. They continue to give up way too many yards. Brandon Jacobs wasn’t on a roster a few weeks ago, and he came into Soldier Field and looked like he was 26 years old again. They put absolutely no pressure on Eli Manning and that was nothing new. Each and every week, they lack a pass rush and that will eventually catch up to them.

Today, the Bears head to the largest stadium in football—FedEx Field. The Redskins are really struggling. Their defense is giving up 395 yards per game. They have given up 271 passing yards each week on average, and they are even yielding 4.2 yards per carry. A week ago, they played in primetime in Dallas and really stunk. Robert Griffin was over-throwing his receivers left and right. It looks like he is back to being as fast as he was last season, but his mechanics are atrocious. Washington lost two players to season-ending injuries last Sunday, too. Right now, they are 1-4, and if it wasn’t for Matt Flynn, they would probably be 0-5.

College Football Recap
There were quite a few upsets yesterday. Auburn beat Texas A&M in a shootout in College Station, thanks to a Johnny Manziel shoulder injury. Vanderbilt scored 17 fourth quarter points at home to take down Georgia. Duke even scored 35 unanswered points to defeat Virginia on the road.

Jameis Winston is incredible. I tweeted last night that he is easily the best player in college football, and I’m not backing down from it. Marcus Mariota is great, but Winston is a true freshman putting up great numbers in not-as-friendly of a system for quarterbacks. If the draft were tomorrow and Mariota, Bridgewater and Winston were all eligible, Winston would go number one.

USC is pathetic. Pat Haden better strike it rich with his new head coach, or he will be getting fired at an airport soon. How Southern California, with their weather and women and tradition, can’t find a competent quarterback and kicker is beyond me. I understand that the reduction of scholarships hurts, but to go on the road against a horrible backup quarterback for a half who gave them great field position time and time again yet still only score 10 points is extremely shitty.

Weather
The weather in our nation’s capital shows a great day for football. Temperatures will be in the high 50’s at the start and will rise into the mid-60’s throughout.

Injury report
The Jon Bostic era is upon us. Brandon Jacobs ran D.J. Williams over last Thursday, and in the process, Williams tore his right pectoral muscle. He will miss the rest of the season. That’s now three players on defense that will be out for the remainder of the year. Charles Tillman (groin/knee), Martellus Bennett (knee), Anthony Walters (hamstring), Major Wright (knee), and James Anderson (back) are all questionable but should play. Stephen Paea (toe) is probable, and he was sorely missed in the last two games. As I mentioned earlier, Washington is having some injury problems as well. LB Bryan Kehl (knee) and LS Nick Sundberg (knee) both suffered season-ending injuries against the Cowboys last week. TE Fred Davis (ankle), LB Brandon Jenkins (ankle), and C Will Montgomery (knee) are all probable. Rookie CB David Amerson (head) suffered a nasty looking hit last week and looked unconscious on the field. He will play today, though.

Did you know?
Since 2003, the Bears have scored a defensive touchdown in 32 different games. In those games, they are 27-5.

NFL Predictions
I started out so well and have shown a rapid decline in these predictions ever since. Today, I’ll take the Patriots to barely fly by the Jets, Panthers to top the Rams, Lions to roar past the Bengals, Steelers over the Ravens, and the Broncos to beat the Colts in what everyone apparently believes is the game of the century. (16-15 on the year)

Players to Watch
Pierre Garcon- If Pierre Garcon played somewhere out west, nobody would even know who he is. Instead, he plays east of the Mississippi, so everyone thinks he’s the next Jerry Rice. Garcon is fast, and that’s about it. He has only played a full season once in five years. He drops a lot of passes, too. Be that as it may, Daniel Snyder gave Garcon a huge contract a few years back to join the Redskins after never having more than 950 yards in a season in Indianapolis. Because Garcon is really Washington’s only threat in terms of wide receivers, he gets a lot of looks from Robert Griffin. The Bears’ secondary has to take Garcon out of the game today and let Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss beat them.

Ryan Kerrigan- When the Redskins selected Ryan Kerrigan 16th overall in 2011, I thought it was a sketchy pick. Before this season began, Kerrigan was a disappointment. Similar to Cameron Jordan from the Saints, Kerrigan’s career has been up and down since entering the league. The only positive for Kerrigan is that he had never missed a game. However, it finally seems like he was worthy of the selection. In his first two years, Kerrigan had 16 sacks combined. This year, he already has 5. He has forced two fumbles as well. The Bears offensive line has been very good this year, but Kerrigan is a potentially hellacious matchup for Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills.

Alshon Jeffery- Last year, I was very tough on Alshon Jeffery. I thought he was fat, slow, injured, and that he displayed bad hands. This year, he has been fantastic. Jeffery is on pace for an 85 catch/1,000 yard season. Today, Jeffery has to play well again. DeAngelo Hall is a giant douchebag, but that doesn’t have anything to do with his ability. Last week, he held Dez Bryant to only five catches for under 40 yards. It would seem logical for Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to match Hall up on Brandon Marshall. In that case, Jeffery has to dominate the other starting CB for Washington, Josh Wilson. Unfortunately, Wilson is having a solid year, so it won’t be easy.

Julius Peppers- Going into this year, the least of my worries was Julius Peppers. He started out slow against Cincinnati, and I defended him saying that it’s just one game. Going into the Minnesota game in week two, I said that it would be hard for him to have an impact due to the field conditions. In week three, he scored a defensive touchdown and a week later in Detroit, he had a strip-sack of Matthew Stafford. At that moment, everything seemed great. Since that day, Peppers has done nothing. No, I mean that: nothing. He doesn’t have any stats the past two weeks. Not even one fucking tackle. The last time he had a tackle, the government was open. Washington’s offensive line has only given up 10 sacks through five games led by star T Trent Williams, but Peppers has to start doing something soon, because if he doesn’t, who will?

The Forecast
The Redskins come into this game in deep shit. The NFC East is wide open, but if they fall to 1-5, their season might just be over. Robert Griffin looks like he did in his first two years at Baylor. Alfred Morris is slightly banged up. Brian Orakpo only has three sacks. Sav Rocca, their punter, has made it possible to be worse than Adam Podlesh as Rocca is last in net and average punting. Their defense only has three interceptions through five games, but what did they expect when they began the year with a dope like Brandon Meriweather starting in their secondary? Similar to New York last week, Washington isn’t really catching any breaks this season. They realize that they have to start winning games soon, and that is what makes this contest so scary for Chicago. The Redskins have to win this game. The Bears don’t have to, although it would be ideal with a bye week before heading Green Bay. Going back to week one of 2012, the ‘Skins are a mediocre 5-5 at home. In Jay Cutler’s 100th career start in a place where he has never played, the Bears win a tight one. Bears 24-23. (5-1 on the year)

-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

Friday Five: Bears at Redskins 2013

Redskins Throwbacks

Wow, Danny Wuerffel actually started for the Redskins under Steve Spurrier.

Remember the days when the Bears were one ongoing controversy (Tank Johnson, Cedric Benson)? Thankfully the Redskins and their team name are currently in the driver’s seat on that subject. I posted the photo to the left because I loved those Redskin throwback uniforms from 2003. As the kids would say, I thought they were sweet. Hilarious that former Washington coach Steve Spurrier had Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews as his quarterbacks. Back when we thought Rex Grossman was the future (and ironically he’s now riding the bench third-string in Washington).

This week’s Friday five:

1. We better enjoy this week’s game, as it’s the only Bears game within a 24-day period (as pointed out by the Chicago Tribune). Since they last played on a Thursday night, then have their bye and don’t play again until Monday night, that’s a remarkably long stretch with only one game. Not sure if that’s close to record territory or not, but definitely odd. Hopefully at least Stephen Paea and Charles Tillman can get healthy.

2. The Jon Bostic era begins in earnest on Sunday after mike backer DJ Williams was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. It’s been a strange journey so far for Bostic. He started all preseason games due to a Williams injury and looked to be the opening-day starter. He then took a seat as Williams did in fact start, and played well. Now he’s the man. Interesting-at least in Lovie Smith’s base defense the middle of the unit was considered to be critical (unlike some other defensive schemes). The three-technique tackle, middle linebacker and safeties are more important as the corners pass everything to the middle of the field. And the pass rush is expected to begin by collapsing the pocket from inside. Now the 2013 Chicago Bears have lost two of their three-technique tackles, their middle linebacker, and their safeties have always been inconsistent. Let’s hope for no more injuries.

3. Jay Cutler is on a record pace, at least as Bears quarterbacks have gone. Should he keep up his current averages, he’ll throw for 4,346 yards and 32 touchdowns, smashing Erik Kramer‘s records set in 1995. He’s also just 800 yards behind Sid Luckman on the Bears’ all-time passing yardage list, so barring injury this year he will become the Bears’ all-time leader in yardage. Luckman has remained the Bears’ leader for 64 seasons!

4. Recent Bears-Redskins history: So much to discuss, so little time and space. The Bears have lost four games in a row to the Redskins, going back to the 2005 opener when Kyle Orton started his first game as a rookie. The Bears won the prior two before that, then had lost the previous six between 1989 and 1999. The 80′s were an exciting time between the clubs when Mike Ditka dueled Joe Gibbs. Chicago’s 1984 playoff win in Washington propelled the Bears to the NFC Championship game, then the Bears rolled over the Redskins 45-10 in the famous 1985 championship season. And who could forget Washington knocking the Bears out of the playoffs in ’86 and ’87, ending their hopes of a dynasty. Finally, I cover the biggest blowout in NFL history, the 73-0 Bears NFL Championship win in 1940 in Washington, in my Chicago Bears History presentation.

5. My verdict: I don’t announce my picks with fanfare. But I’ll say the Bears are about where I thought and hoped they would be so far. I didn’t have confidence that they would beat Detroit or New Orleans. I do think they should win at Washington, as long as the offense limits turnovers and scores points against the porous Redskin defense.

Bears History at Brookfield Library

Chicago Bears History PresentationThe Chicago Bears History road show continues on Tuesday, October 22nd at 7 p.m. I will be doing my 90-minute multimedia presentation on the Bears’ 94-year history at Brookfield Public Library.

Information on the event is available on the Brookfield Public Library Home Page through the event date.

Hope to see you there!