The Chicago Bears (1-4) host the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) this Sunday at Soldier Field. Both of these teams are in last place for the moment, but who is in a better position to make a run at their division title? You’d have to say the Jaguars are in a decent position despite their 1-3 record because the AFC South seems to have more parity than the NFC North. Their division leader is Houston at 3-2 while Tennessee and Indianapolis are at 2-3. Meanwhile, the NFC North has a surprisingly dominant leader in Minnesota (5-0) while Green Bay is highly regarded at 3-1 and Detroit is at 2-3. On paper, it looks really tough for the Bears to finish much higher than 3rd Place in the Norris.
However, games and standings aren’t played on paper. They’re played on the gridiron. Since the Bears beat Detroit head to head a couple weeks ago, you’d have to think the Bears are at least a contender……for 3rd Place. The Jags have some positives going into Week 6. They lost to Green Bay 27-23, San Diego 38-14, and Baltimore 19-17 in the first 3 weeks but rebounded to defeat Indianapolis in London 30-27. Then they had their bye week. They have a young stud QB in Blake Bortles who is scuffling with a 7/6 TD/Int ratio and a 79.4 QB rating. They have a solid receiving corps headed by WRs Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee along with TE Julius Thomas. They have a struggling running game headed by second year RB T.J. Yeldon (3.2 ypc). Overall, it’s very much a mixed bag for Jacksonville. Their team is young and growing. Head Coach Gus Bradley is in his 4th year in Jacksonville, hoping it goes better than his 12-36 record so far. He received just a one year contract extension given to him by GM Dave Caldwell by extension of Owner Shad Khan, 1971 Mechanical Engineering graduate from University of Illinois.
Stats Thru Week 5 (5 games for Chi, 4 games for Jax), better stat in bold:
Jags Offense: 19th Scoring O (21.0 ppg), 26th Total O (320.8 ypg), 30th Rush O (75.3 ypg), 19th Pass O (245.5 ypg)
vs Bears Defense 21st Scoring D (25.2 ppg), 14th Total D (346.0 ypg), 24th Rush D (118.4 ypg), 12th Pass D (227.6 ypg)
Bears Offense: 30th Scoring O (17.0 ppg), 9th Total O (372.4 ypg), 19th Rush O (90.8 ypg), 6th Pass O (281.6 ypg)
vs Jags Defense: 25th Scoring D (27.8 ppg), 7th Total D (304.5 ypg), 17th Rush D (105.8 ypg), 7th Pass D (198.8 ypg)
Stats can be so misleading but this gives us a general view of the strength of these teams. For example, when was the last time the Bears were as high as 6th in Passing Offense?……when Sid Luckman threw spirals probably. As you can see, both teams are mediocre. The Jaguars supposedly have the 7th Total Yardage and 7th Passing Yardage Defense but it hasn’t translated in points. They’re 25th in Scoring D. Meanwhile, the Bears are 9th in Total Offensive Yardage with that 6th best Passing Offense but it has translated to…….30th in Scoring. This is just strange, no?
Keep An Eye On:
#4 Connor Barth/K
Talk about pressure……If Barth misses another field goal, is he out of a job? Could the Bears re-sign Robbie Gould? Why not? I don’t know the details of Gould’s contract and what the Bears would be responsible for with his old contract but I would think they could work it out unless Gould is just plain angry with Ryan Pace and Chicago’s management team after being let go in preseason. It’s something to keep an eye on should Barth look shaky once again. So far Barth is 5 of 8 in total FG’s. He even had two tries last week at Indianapolis after missing the first try from 54 yards out and then again from 49 yards after a five yard defensive penalty. He missed both, leaving Bears fans shaking their heads.
Bears Record: 1-4
My Record: 2-3
It should be a very interesting game this Sunday, pitting two young teams with loads of young talent emerging into all-star professionals while stuck on losing teams. I struggled with this pick because of the overall ineptitude of both teams. Chicago is favored by 3 points with an over/under of 47 in Las Vegas. So the “experts” expect a Bears 25-22 victory. I’ll stick with the experts since I’m a “swami” myself.
Bears 20 Jaguars 16