Bears Demolish Jaguars 41-17
The Chicago Bears (8-7) kept their season alive by destroying the weak Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) by a score of 41-17 in Florida on Sunday afternoon. Now they face a huge game in the season finale at home in Soldier Field versus the Green Bay Packers (12-3) on Sunday at 3:25pm.
TE #80 Jimmy Graham – Jimmy has had a solid season overall. He’s been up and down at times, but for his age he looks somewhat spry. Many criticized GM Ryan Pace for signing Graham to a contract after he only scored five times in two seasons in Green Bay. You’d think Aaron Rodgers would have made Jimmy young again. Nope. Instead, the Bears under HC Matt Nagy, OC Bill Lazor, and QB’s Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky have helped increase Graham’s production. He has already surpassed his touchdown total of five scores in two seasons with the Packers by scoring 8 times this year in 15 games in Chicago. In the Jacksonville game, Graham had 4 catches on 5 targets for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns. Thus far in 2020, he has 48 receptions for 451 yards and 8 TD’s. Those numbers are pretty solid. I’ve been saying for a few years now, the NFL is a Tight End League. The best teams have the best tight ends (See Travis Kelce with Kansas City, George Kittle last year with San Francisco, Zach Ertz a few years ago with Philadelphia, etc). The successful offenses use their tight ends to create mismatches all across the field, and especially in the red zone. For some reason the Bears haven’t utilized this in years past up until recently. You know what always works? The play action game with your quarterback under center. The QB fakes a handoff and then who is almost always wide open?….the tight end! Nagy didn’t utilize this enough at all earlier this season. Then he handed over play calling to Lazor. Lazor likes using the tight end and voila, the Bears have scored 30+ points for four games in a row which is their most since 1965.
RB #32 David Montgomery – Montgomery has been so great lately that we need to keep awarding him. This week he gets a Game Ball for rushing for 95 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. He’s had 100+ rushing yards in three of his last five games after returning from a concussion. He looks healthy, fast, and hard to tackle. He runs with great pad level and presents a low center of gravity. It’s no wonder tacklers have a tough time getting him to the ground.
ILB #59 Danny Trevathan – I’ve ragged on Danny all season but I must admit, he’s been playing pretty good ball lately. Against the Jaguars, Trevathan recorded 4 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 PBU’s, one of which was tipped up in the air and intercepted by fellow linebacker Roquan Smith. After looking sluggish early on in 2020, Trevathan has rebounded to become a solid inside linebacker once again. Let’s throw him a Game Ball, and hope he tips it up in the air to another Bears defender.
CB #20 Kindle Vildor – Filling in for injured rookie cornerback #33 Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor did a decent job on Sunday at Jacksonville. The rookie CB was picked on by former Bears QB Mike Glennon a few times but overall he held his own in covering D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault. Vildor totaled 6 tackles, 4 of which were solo stops. If Johnson still can’t go (he did not practice on Thursday) on Sunday versus Green Bay, Vildor might play a big role in defending Rodgers and the Packers vaunted pass catchers including Davante Adams and Allen Lazard.
Player of the Game
ILB #58 Roquan Smith – We talk about Roquan almost every week so there’s nothing new I need to tell you. However, in this game Smith led the Bears in tackles, once again, with 8 solo tackles but on top of that, he intercepted two Jaguars passes. These were Roq’s third and fourth interceptions of his career, and his first and second of this season. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Roquan is on his way to Canton if he keeps playing the rest of his career like he has this season. He leads the NFL with 97 solo tackles and is fifth in total tackles with 136. He’s also fifth with 17 TFL’s (tackles for loss). Throw in 4 sacks and 2 interceptions and you have a potential All-Pro.
Green Bay Packers (12-3) at Chicago Bears (8-7)
This is what we were hoping for all season. We wanted the last game of the regular season to mean something against the Bears biggest rivals, the Green Bay Packers. It should be fun on Sunday afternoon on the shores of Lake Michigan as the Packers invade Soldier Field with the cold winter weather as the backdrop setting.
As I’m sure you know, the Bears need to win to assure themselves of the NFC’s last Wild Card spot in the Playoffs. However, there’s still a chance for Chicago to qualify with a loss, that being an Arizona Cardinals (8-7) loss to the Los Angeles Rams (9-6). Here’s a synopsis:
- Bears win and Rams win: Rams are #6 seed, Bears are #7
- Bears win and Cardinals win: Bears are #6, Cards are #7
- Bears lose and Rams win: Rams are #6, Bears are #7
- Bears lose and Cardinals win: Cards are #6, Rams are #7, Bears season is over
Chicago makes the playoffs in three of those four outcomes, so the odds are with the Bears. As for Green Bay, they have already clinched a Playoff berth of course, but they are trying to clinch the #1 seed and qualify for the lone bye in the NFC. You’d think they would be motivated to win on Sunday, but there’s always a chance they come out flat due to a lack of urgency from having already clinched at least #1, #2, or #3 in the NFC.
Troy Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER) – as of today (12/31), completely updated
- Green Bay (12-3) : 2nd overall, 1st offense, 16th defense (Bears have already beaten AER’s #1 overall team, Tampa Bay)
- Chicago (8-7) : 17th overall, 24th offense, 8th defense
- Green Bay : 3rd overall, 1st offense, 15th defense, 25th special teams
- Chicago : 15th overall, 25th offense, 7th defense, 10th special teams
Sports Betting Dime
According to SportsBettingDime.com as of Thursday, Green Bay is favored by 5.5 points. Their calculation has the Packers winning 15.4-10.1. The Bears have won three in a row S/U and ATS to put their record at 8-7 S/U and 8-7 ATS. Green Bay is 12-3 S/U and 9-6 ATS.
According to TeamRankings.com as of Wednesday, Green Bay is also favored by 5.5 points with an Over/Under of 51 points. When you do the math that works out to Green Bay winning by a score of about 28-23.
Last week we correctly predicted the Bears to beat the Jaguars. Our projected score was 27-13 and the final score was 41-17. The victory moved our record to 13-2 for the season, which is our best in the five years we’ve been predicting Bears games. Our only losses this year were the home games versus Minnesota and Detroit. Surprisingly Chicago lost those very winnable games at Soldier Field or else they would have already clinched an NFC Playoff spot.
Chicago Bears : 8-7
Dutch Lion: 13-2
This Sunday’s game is one of the hardest games to predict of the entire season. The Packers have been the better team this season, but the Bears are hot lately too. Green Bay beat Chicago 41-25 in Week 12 on November 29. Since then, the Bears offense has been improving almost every week. For Chicago, this is a divisional home game in what many would consider the biggest rivalry in the NFL. The Bears are motivated. They need a win to clinch a playoff berth.
The Packers should be motivated also since they could wrap up the NFC’s top seed with a victory, but it’s possible they are overconfident after their big 40-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans. That was a huge challenge for them to prove how playoff ready they were, and they indeed proved it, winning 40-14. I could see the Packers overlooking the Bears somewhat after beating them last month and feeling like they are presently on top of the world. In the end, I think Chicago has a solid chance at the upset. I expect the Packers to have a little bit of a letdown.
Over the last three games, Chicago has been playing arguably the best they’ve played since 2018. The offense certainly has. In fact, the offense is producing more points than they have in, gulp, decades.
When you look at the stats, the best unit on the field should be Green Bay’s offense. However, the Bears offense is playing so well that their poor offensive stat rankings are almost underestimating them at the present time. As for the defenses, they are both playing mediocre football lately, as well as over the course of the season.
How about home field advantage? There’s not much of an advantage in 2020 without fans. Nonetheless, it can’t hurt the Bears to be playing on their home turf at Soldier Field.
As for the Bears, this is the game they’ve been pointing to for a month. When Chicago blew that Lions game on December 6, their last chance was winning out and hoping it would be enough. They were victorious and lucky. They got what they wanted. Now they want revenge.
The biggest obstacle to the Bears fulfilling their dream is Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, as usual. If Chicago’s starting cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine are not available, the pressure falls to Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley. That doesn’t sound like a winning formula to stop Rodgers. However, the Bears pass rush needs to step up and I think they will. Khalil Mack, Bilal Nichols, Brent Urban, Mario Edwards, Robert Quinn, and Akiem Hicks will provide pressure from the defensive line. DC Chuck Pagano will send LB’s Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan on blitzes. BREAKING NEWS! On Thursday evening it was revealed that Packers All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari tore his ACL in practice today. That is a huge loss for GB and a ginormous break for the Bears. I fully expect them to get home a few times and sack Rodgers as well as force a bunch of throwaways and giveaways.
Bottom line, I predict Rodgers will get hurt in this game. It could be Mack, Hicks, Smith, or possibly even Quinn. It could be Urban, Edwards, or Nichols. Who knows? In my dreams I’m envisioning a play in which Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack crunch Rodgers, possibly breaking his ribs and maybe his collarbone.
If this prediction comes to fruition, it would provide a serious problem for Green Bay as it will end their season right at their penultimate game. With the injury to Rodgers, the Bears will roll to victory. Even if Rodgers does finish the game, I’m confident that the Bears will get the long-awaited revenge victory. PICK: Chicago
Chicago Bears 31 Green Bay Packers 21