Chicago Bears Are Back In The Playoffs!
The Chicago Bears finished their regular season with yet another win, this time a surprising road victory at Minnesota to end the season 12-4. It’s hard to believe…. or is it? Way back in the Preseason the Dutch Lion was calling for a Playoff spot for Chicago in 2018. However, even we weren’t thinking NFC North Champions. We had higher hopes for the defending Norris Division Champions, the Minnesota Vikings. They disappointed everybody this year, finishing 8-7-1 and missing the Playoffs. By losing on their home field to Chicago, along with a Philadelphia Eagles victory at Washington, the Vikes blew it. Instead, the #3 seed Bears will face the #6 seed Eagles.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will go ice fishing along with Green Bay and Detroit. I can envision it now: Packers, Lions, and Vikings players all ice fishing together out on Lake Superior. Then I envision mayhem as they start fighting over past grievances which leads them to fall through the ice. Somebody call 9-1-1 and get those Duluth paramedics on the ready.
Last week I predicted Minnesota would be highly motivated and by playing on their home field in US Bank Stadium, I believed they would oust the Bears to grab that last NFC Playoff spot. Instead, it looked like Chicago was the team with their backs against the wall. The Bears came out on Sunday and never let the Vikings get comfortable. Chicago’s destroyer D did just that, holding Minny to 12 First Downs, 164 Total Yards, 3.2 yards per play, one TD, and one FG in a 24-10 demolition.
Did someone say ’85 Bears? Wo, wo, wo, wow! Hold your horses there sonny. Gimme two Playoff shutouts and a 46-10 Super Bowl Championship and maybe, just maybe we’ll think about referencing the Super Bowl XX Champs. Until then, keep dreamin’.
For now, let’s finish this Minnesota Recap and hand out some Game Balls!
DT #91 Eddie Goldman – A few weeks ago I meant to award Eddie with a Game Ball but I overlooked him because of too many Chicago players with standout performances. I can’t overlook him anymore. Goldman is unsung. He’s underrated, and he’s a key member of DC Vic Fangio’s defensive unit. In this Vikings game, Goldman had 4 TKL’s, 2 solo stops, and 1 Sack. He consistently plugged the middle of the line which helped the Bears hold the Vikings to just 63 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Way to go Eddie!
WR #18 Taylor Gabriel – Gabriel caught 4 passes for 61 yards on 4 targets at Minnesota. His highlight-reel 40 yard catch was ruled down on the one yard line which set up a 1 yard dive TD for Jordan Howard. Gabriel made a fantastic diving grab to set up the score. Given that WR #12 Allen Robinson was sitting out this game with an injury, and fellow WR #17 Anthony Miller got hurt early in the game, the Bears needed Gabriel to come up big. He did. Unfortunately, then Gabriel got hurt too. We’ll need to keep an eye on this WR corps moving into next week’s Playoff game.
Player of the Game
RB #24 Jordan Howard – This is my third year writing Bears recaps. In 2016 and ’17, I must have named Jordan Howard the Player of the Game several times, probably more times than any other player. In 2018 however, I don’t think we’ve named Howard the Player of the Game even once. In fact, we’ve hardly even awarded Howard with a Game Ball. That’s because he hasn’t played that well, or at least been given much of a chance. In this game at Minnesota, Coach Nagy gave Howard a chance. He had 21 carries for 109 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. That was good for a 5.2 avg ypc. Howard also caught one pass for 5 yards on two targets. Moving forward into the Playoffs, Howard should continue to have a much bigger role, as he did for Coach John Fox over the last two years. Another factor was improved blocking from the offensive line and the receivers. Was it a coincidence that Howard’s best game came with RG #75 Kyle Long back from injured reserve?
In last week’s Minnesota Preview, we wrote:
“Minnesota is favored by 4.5 points according to Saturday’s Chicago Tribune. Add in the motivation level of the Vikings, playing at home with a chance to clinch an NFC Wild Card berth in the Playoffs, and it gives Minnesota the edge. Given the setting, given the situation, and given the mentality of both teams, I’m picking the Vikings to defend their home turf and win this game. Can the Bears even cover the spread? I shall wager the answer is no. Vikes win S/U and ATS.
Week 17 PREDICTION: Minnesota Vikings 17, Chicago Bears 11″
Week 17 RESULT: Chicago Bears 24, Minnesota Vikings 10
- Fortunately, the “Dutch Lion” was wrong! We called for a six point loss because we figured the Vikings would play with furious anger at home when they needed a victory to make the Playoffs. Instead, the Bears just played better. They didn’t rest the starters. They took a commanding lead and (in the words of now Arizona St. Head Coach Herm Edwards) “they played to win the game”.
- Unfortunately, the L.A. Rams easily defeated the San Francisco 49ers to claim the #2 seed and the bye. The Bears didn’t need to win for themselves to improve their seed but they DID eliminate the Vikings. And think about the Minnesota fans. They must be hurting. To lose at home to your division rival to end your season? Ouch. I’m glad that never happened to our team. Doh!
2018 Season Results
- Chicago Bears : 12-4
- Dutch Lion : 11-5
Next up……..the game we’ve all been waiting for, for eight years! The Chicago Bears return to the NFC Playoffs as the NFC North Champions! Look for the “Dutch Lion’s” Eagles Preview later this week.