How fun was that! I’m so happy to be a Bears fan. The victory over the Green Bay Packers gave the Chicago Bears their first division Championship since 2010. I have a t-shirt from 2010. I still wear it proudly. Could it be time for some new gear? You betcha! But maybe we should wait for NFC Champions or Super Bowl gear. You think? You never know.
As for this game, there were some moments of worry but QB #10 Mitch Trubisky came through when the Bears needed him and the defense dominated as usual. Congratulations to Coach Nagy, OC Mark Helfrich, DC Vic Fangio, and GM Ryan Pace for getting this team to the top of the division, if not further. I could see this coming for the last few years as I started writing weekly recaps and previews in 2016. To be honest, I’ve really learned so much more about the team and the roster since doing this and it has been a great learning experience.
When the Preview magazines came out this past Summer, I was disappointed but unsurprised to see Chicago picked in last place as usual. However, in our Dutch Lion’s Bears Season Preview, I predicted a playoff berth. “The Dutch Lion” received the typical cheap shots and negative commentary from friends and family. Who’s laughing now?
Granted, I picked Minnesota to win the North this year and they have disappointed. However, this Bears team is playing up to my expectations. I’ve been debating between 10-6 and 11-5 for the last year. In fact, even when John Fox was still the coach I predicted this record. That’s because I saw the defensive improvement and the fact that Trubisky would be a “sophomore”. When the coaching switch happened I had some quick doubts. Nonetheless, I came to the conclusion that this Bears team could likely win 10 or 11 games, due to improved play from a young team as well as the likelihood of better health. Sure enough, those things have happened. On top of a 4th place schedule that played out the way it was supposed to, unlike last year’s 4th place schedule that ended up being ranked the hardest in the entire NFL. How does that happen?
Bottom line, two main things played into the Bears becoming 2018 NFC Norris Division Champions.
- 1. Vic Fangio staying on as DC when it was likely that he would leave after interviewing for the Head Coaching position and not receiving it. His decision was integral to this defensive unit coming together. The continuity of the scheme and personnel helped improve the 10th rated defense of 2017 into becoming a top unit, maybe the best defense of 2018.
- 2. GM Ryan Pace’s huge move to trade for OLB #52 Khalil Mack. We don’t need to explain his value. He’s simply one of the best defenders in the league.
That’s enough recapping of the season for now. We’ll be writing much more on the topic in the future. Let’s get on with awarding players for the Packers game.
QB #10 Mitch Trubisky – After a week in which Trubisky was ripped relentlessly, he came through with a beautiful bounceback performance. Tru completed 20 of 28 passes on the day for 235 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT and 0 turnovers. He ran for an additional 16 yards on 3 carries and took what the defense gave him. It was a winning mentality when you have a surrounding cast like he has with this defense. He didn’t force passes that could lead to big plays for the Packers defense. He made enough plays when it counted and played winning football.
OLB #52 Khalil Mack – Another player that needed to step up in a big game was Mack. Sure enough, Mack “Truck” had a killer game against QB #12 Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. He totaled 6 tackles, 5 of them solo stops, 2.5 sacks, and 3 QB hits. As the leader of Chicago’s D, Mack went gangbusters in hitting and pressuring Rodgers all game long. It worked. Khalil is now up to 12.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown for the season. Another Game Ball for the NFL’s possible Defensive Player of the Year.
S #39 Eddie Jackson – Jackson and the secondary played well versus Green Bay’s passing attack. They held Rodgers to 274 yards, 0 TD’s and a 68.9 rating. Eddie picked off Rodgers in the end zone late in the game, thwarting the Packers scoring attempt. The interception was Rodgers’ first in 402 passing attempts, an NFL record.
Player of the Game
OLB #94 Leonard Floyd – Many Bears fans seem to “not get it” when it comes to evaluating Lenny Floyd. I for one, love Floyd. I think this dude has ‘Mount Everest type’ potential. The skies the limit! Having said that, I agree it would be nice to see more statistical production from the young man. Well, in this big game Leonard provided it. He recorded 6 TKL’s, all of them solo stops, 3 QB hits, and 2 big sacks! I love sacks and so does Lenny. He threw Rodgers down like a rag doll, which was simply fun! Floyd is now up to 4 sacks on the year, along with his 40 TKL’s, 1 INT he returned for a TD, and 4 PBU’s. Leonard gets our “Player of the Game” Award for Packers week!
In last week’s Packers Preview, we wrote:
“I think it’s more likely the Bears will take this game very seriously on their road to NFC North Division Champions. Not only do they want revenge for that ridiculous collapse after leading 20-0 in the season opener in Green Bay, but they want to get over the hump that is the Packers. After losing so many, many times over the last 25 years, Chicago needs to start winning games in this rivalry series again.
Week 15 Prediction:
Chicago is favored by 5.5 points according to Saturday’s Chicago Tribune. Can the Bears cover that point spread? I expect the Bears to play with passion. I expect QB #10 Mitch Trubisky to play much better than he did in last week’s return from his shoulder injury. I expect the defense to get after Aaron Rodgers and put the nail in the coffin this time. I expect a big victory.
Chicago Bears 33, Green Bay Packers 13″
RESULT: Chicago Bears 24, Green Bay Packers 17
- The “Dutch Lion” was a little aggressive with our point spread but Chicago indeed won the game and covered the spread.
- We expected: “QB #10 Mitch Trubisky to play much better than he did in last week’s return from his shoulder injury”. He did. He received a Game Ball as we listed above.
- We expected “the defense to get after Aaron Rodgers and put the nail in the coffin this time”. The Bears defense recorded 5 sacks and hit Rodgers 9 times with a relentless pass rush. The secondary intercepted Rodgers once and ended his NFL record streak. They held him to a 68.9 rating and batted 8 passes away. Mission accomplished!
- Chicago Bears : 10-4
- Dutch Lion : 10-4
Congratulations to the 2018 NFC Norris Division Champions, the Chicago Bears! Look for our Bears/49ers Preview coming later this week. For now, go out there and buy yourself some new Chicago Bears 2018 NFC North Division Champions gear! It sounds good, doesn’t it?
As much as it hurts, congratulations. I’m hoping for a much better season next year. Good luck to your team in the playoffs.
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I love being a BEARS fan this time of year!
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Hmmm. how about dem bears?
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Congrats to your Bears! Enjoy the ride! That Kahlil Mack trade right before the season seems to have made a huge difference.
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Mack is great but he’s just one guy of eleven. This team was ready to improve either way. I’m curious what would have happened if Coach Fox would have been retained. That would have been very interesting. Obviously we’ll never know but I do think Fox should get at least a little credit for developing these players over the last three years. Last year’s main problem was health. The team was all on IR and Mike Glennon started the first 4 games at QB and sucked. Mack was definitely the final piece and gave everybody confidence too. I love it. This team is great to watch!
Thanks for the comments Paul.