The Chicago Bears (5-4) have hit rock bottom in the midst of the 2020 NFL season, falling for the third game in a row. The Tennessee Titans (6-2) whipped the Bears 24-17 last Sunday in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
The offense is doing nothing. The offensive line is injured and dealing with COVID. Plus, they just weren’t that good to begin with. The quarterbacking is lacking. The play calling is boring. There aren’t enough weapons. This team misses Tarik Cohen. The trick plays are all used up on offense. At least the special teams executed a fake punt at Tennessee.
On the other hand, the Bears defense is really, really good. It’s a top five defense in the NFL. With a supportive offense, they might be the best. Instead, they are on the field too often and can’t rush the passer because the opponent isn’t forced to pass since they’re almost always in the lead. Thus, Chicago’s defense can’t create turnovers from the fierce pass rush and the idea that the opponent needs to force the ball in order to catch up on the scoreboard.
Even though it feels like the sky is falling, this was a tough three game stretch for Chicago. It’s not a crime losing to the Rams in Los Angeles, at home to the Saints, and at Tennessee. Those are all very solid teams. We predicted the Bears would fall to all three teams but we still believe in a ten win season.
All the Bears have to do to fulfill this prophecy is beat all three of their NFC North rivals at Soldier Field in Weeks 10, 13, and 17 while taking care of business against the hapless Houston Texans (2-6) and Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) in Weeks 14 and 16. This would allow losses at Green Bay in Week 12 and at Minnesota in Week 15. If Chicago can pull off that 5-2 finish, they would complete the year at 10-6 and likely make the NFC Playoffs.
2020 Remaining Schedule
- Week 10 : vs Minnesota (3-5) – WIN
- Week 11 : BYE
- Week 12 : at Green Bay (6-2) – LOSS
- Week 13 : vs Detroit (3-5) – WIN
- Week 14 : vs Houston (2-6) – WIN
- Week 15 : at Minnesota (3-5) – LOSS
- Week 16 : at Jacksonville (1-7) – WIN
- Week 17 : vs Green Bay (6-2) – WIN
We feel good about our predictions but there needs to be improvement, especially on the offensive line. If the Bears can get some cohesion and improved play up front, then the quarterback can get the ball to the emerging playmakers. Plus, the running backs need some daylight. It would be nice if David Montgomery wasn’t touched until at least the line of scrimmage rather than getting crammed in the backfield before he even has a chance to get moving.
DE #92 Brent Urban – Nobody talks about Brent Urban but he’s pretty good. He has made several standout plays this season. In the Titans game, he recorded 3 tackles and 1 QB hit. Keep your eyes on Urban as the season progresses. He’s the dude that plays air guitar after his good plays. No wonder he’s jamming plenty lately because he’s a playmaker. For the season he has 17 tackles and 1 sack.
DT #75 Daniel McCullers – Recently picked up by GM Ryan Pace, McCullers had a solid game at Tennessee. Filling in for the opted-out Eddie Goldman, McCullers is a space filler at 6’7″ 352 pounds. He moved very well for a guy that big. He made 4 tackles and looked really good in helping the run defense hold Titans superstar RB Derrick Henry to only 68 yards on 21 carries (3.2 avg).
Player of the Game
ILB #58 Roquan Smith – You know I love Roquan, right? This dude is on his way to having a fantastic career. A Hall of Fame career? It’s possible. Against the Titans, he had a team high 11 tackles, 9 solo stops, 2 TFL’s, and a sack. But it wasn’t the stats that stood out. Roq made a play in this game that brought back shades of the legendary Brian Urlacher. With about 8 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, Smith blitzed on a 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 23 yard line. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill passed the ball downfield to WR A.J. Brown who then evaded SS #38 Tashaun Gipson. Guess who ended up making the tackle? That’s right, Roquan! He flew downfield and made the kind of play that only special players can achieve. Seriously, years ago we would see Urlacher making plays like this. I’ll never forget a play that Urlacher made in 2002 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, the year that Soldier Field was being renovated. Brian flew from the middle of the field to make a tackle near the sideline. It was an amazing play that only a few middle linebackers in the history of the sport could make. That was the moment I knew Urlacher could be a Hall of Famer. Likewise on Sunday, when I saw Smith run from the 20 to the 40 yard line in the blink of an eye to make this play, I realized he has a chance to be a Hall of Famer too.
Last week we called for the Titans victory by a score of 23-13. The final score was 24-17. That keeps the “Dutch Lion” perfect in 2020.
- Chicago Bears : 5-4
- Dutch Lion : 9-0
So now the division rival Minnesota Vikings (3-5) head to Soldier Field to try to keep their hot streak alive. They’ve won two in a row over Green Bay and Detroit. The Bears (5-4) are trying to reverse their poor play as of late and stop their three game losing streak. A win over the Vikes would be a huge step to getting back on track in the NFC Norris.
Watch Out For :
WR #88 Riley Ridley – We had a Riley Ridley sighting in last week’s game at Tennessee! Does this mean that Ridley is out of Coach Matt Nagy’s doghouse? Ridley had 2 catches for 23 yards including a big 18 yard reception for a first down late in the game. We’ve all been wondering where Ridley has been. He’s a 4th rounder in 2019 out of Georgia. He’s 6’1″ and could see more snaps with Javon Wims being suspended and Ted Ginn being waived. This offense needs to find more weapons. Maybe Ridley can prove himself.
RB #35 Ryan Nall – Another player who will likely be seen on Monday Night is Ryan Nall, due to the concussion suffered by starting RB #32 David Montgomery. That concussion will keep Montgomery out of Monday’s game so somebody needs to step up. Nall looks like a fullback but has agility and ball skills out of the backfield. Think of the fullbacks from years gone by, guys like Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Tommy Vardell, and Brad Muster. Nall reminds me of those guys. I think he might surprise us. Another player who might get some reps is #25 Lamar Miller. He was just activated from the practice squad over the weekend, so look out for him.
Troy Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER) – (Not updated to include last week’s games)
- Minnesota Vikings (3-5) – 16th overall, 9th offense, 22nd defense
- Chicago Bears (5-4) – 18th overall, 29th offense, 5th defense
- Minnesota – 14th overall, 7th offense, 15th defense, 28th special teams
- Chicago – 17th overall, 28th offense, 4th defense, 22nd special teams
According to Sports Betting Dime, Minnesota is favored by 3 points. They predict a low scoring affair on the lakefront with the Vikings covering by an 18-8 score. I’m much more optimistic than that.
The Vikings have an awesome offense led by QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook, and WR Adam Thielen. Cook is currently one of the best runners in the game. He’s having a huge season, but so was Derrick Henry. I look for the Bears defense to do a solid job on Monday night. I think they will hold Minnesota to under 20 points as #52 Khalil Mack seems to shine brightest under the lights of primetime. This defense around Mack is finding their groove. DC Chuck Pagano is calling a few more blitzes and I would bet that the unit intercepts Cousins at least once and maybe more times than that. I see at least two takeaways in the Bears future.
On the other side of the ball, can the Bears offense move down the field and score? That’s always the question, right? Coach Nagy handed off play calling duties to OC Bill Lazor this week. I think that unpredictability will help against a poor Vikings defense. I actually see the Bears moving the ball and scoring a few times with Nick Foles passing to Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney, and also to the tight ends Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet.
Returning home to Soldier Field will be a welcome sight for the Bears. The NFL is all about motivation and parity. The Bears are better than the way they’ve looked for the last three straight weeks. Meanwhile, the Vikings aren’t as good as the way they’ve played in their two straight wins, including one over the Packers. The Bears have beaten the Vikings four straight times, not losing to Minnesota since 2017. I look for Chicago to continue their recent dominance over a surging but still underwhelming Minnesota squad. Chicago’s defense will be the star. PICK: Chicago
Chicago Bears 17 Minnesota Vikings 14