Bears Are Back In The Playoffs!

Bears Stuffed By Packers in Finale

The Chicago Bears (8-8) were stuffed by the Green Bay Packers (13-3) on Sunday at Soldier Field by a score of 35-16. Chicago was only losing by a score of 21-16 after scoring a field goal with 5:30 left in the 3rd quarter. After getting the ball back on a punt after two consecutive “dropped” interceptions, the score remained 21-16 going into the 4th quarter. Then Chicago gave up the ball on downs with 11:22 left to end their subsequent drive (more on that later). Green Bay added two touchdowns late in the 4th quarter to put the Bears away for the 2020 regular season. The Bears definitely had their chances.

Surprisingly the Bears still qualified for the NFC Playoffs by backing into the (one-time only, maybe) #7 seed after the Arizona Cardinals (8-8) lost to the Rams in Los Angeles. The Bears earned the tiebreaker over the Cards and will now face the New Orleans Saints (12-4) on Sunday afternoon in Louisiana’s Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Rather than awarding Game Balls this week, let’s ask a few questions, bring up a few key points about the regular season finale, and point out a few “Thumbs Down” players and moments.

  1. Where was WR #12 Allen Robinson on Sunday? The Bears used him like a decoy rather than using him as the top target like they did almost all of 2020. Instead, WR #11 Darnell Mooney received the majority of targets. Why? It made little sense and obviously didn’t work. Was it because Robinson was injured or unhealthy? It’s hard to believe that since Robinson played the entire game. Did the Bears strategy to use him as a decoy come into play because of the Packers star cover corner Jaire Alexander? Perhaps, but that was ignorant. Just a few weeks prior at Green Bay in Week 12, Robinson had 8 catches for 74 yards and 2 scores on 13 targets. In this most recent game, he had 2 catches for 35 yards on only 5 targets. Robinson didn’t catch his first pass until three minutes were left in the 3rd quarter. Instead, Mooney was targeted 13 times and caught 11 passes for 93 yards. I guess I’m a little confused. Am I the only one?
  2. The biggest moment of the game was when TE #85 Cole Kmet didn’t fumble. Check that. The on-field referees called the tackled Kmet not down and allowed his fumble to get recovered by the Packers. Then the replay officials used their old fallback “the call stands” announcement to basically admit they didn’t want to change the call on the field due to a lack of evidence. This is normal for NFL referees, who have gotten inundated with so many rules and suggestions that they can’t make a call anymore. The entire on-field referee system is broken. The entire replay system is broken too. When are we gonna get an innovator (maybe a smart former player like Gary Fencik or an industrialist like an Elon Musk) to improve this ancient, broken system? Go back and watch the Kmet fumble play. He didn’t fumble. The on-field refs have been taught to let a play continue just in case the replay official finds it was indeed a fumble. However, this is a problem because the replay officials are always told to “stick with the call on the field” UNLESS there is indisputable evidence to overturn the on-field call. That’s nonsense. Instead, the replay official should be at a remote location and NOT told what the on-field call was. They should be shown the replay from all the angles and then asked to give their decision. We understand not all of these plays are 100% obvious. That’s the point. What does the replay official rule when it’s a 50/50 call? Whatever they view as their 51% most likely option is the one they go with. That’s it. Now go watch the Kmet play again. What is your call? I’m much more than 50% certain that he DID NOT fumble. That’s the answer. How hard is this for the NFL to figure out? C’mon man!!!!
  3. The viewer at home on television should NOT be subjected to watching Allstate Insurance commercials featuring the opposing team’s quarterback. Why don’t they have a rule against this? It’s disengaging half of the audience. You’d think the advertiser would NOT want to do this. Do any Bears fans use Allstate Insurance anymore? I doubt it. I bet most customers switched to a different insurance provider after seeing Bears nemesis and agitator Aaron Rodgers in those stupid commercials during every timeout. I AM SICK OF BOTH RODGERS AND HIS STUPID CO-STAR with that Rodgers Rate garbage. ENOUGH!!!
  4. Does Bears DC Chuck Pagano know what he’s doing? Has backup ILB #55 Josh Woods ever played before? I don’t recall him getting much time and it showed. He stunk. He allowed the easy 13 yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Dominique Dafney by not dropping on his coverage. He also messed up several other times. I know this isn’t Pagano’s fault… or is it? He needs to get more experience for his backups so that when a starter goes down with an injury, as star ILB #58 Roquan Smith did in the 1st quarter, that the backup knows what he’s doing. Pagano’s lack of blitzes had me disappointed. What has happened to this defense? I know there have been injuries (Jaylon Johnson, Buster Skrine, Roy Robertson-Harris, and now Smith) and opt-outs (Eddie Goldman), but there’s other problems too. Eddie Jackson has forgotten how to tackle. He has forgotten how to intercept passes too. Where was Bilal Nichols on Sunday? He has been solid lately but was invisible against Green Bay. The Bears miss Leonard Floyd, Prince Amukamara, Goldman, Robertson-Harris, and Nick Kwiatkoski. The replacements aren’t as good. It’s kind of sad.
  5. What’s up with the 4th and 1 “non”conversion? Oddly, Nagy and/or OC Bill Lazor chose to go in the shotgun and pass on a key 4th and 1 after at least one earlier conversion using a QB sneak. The QB sneak is one of my favorite plays in football. Why? Because it works. The best QB sneaker of all time? Tom Brady. The guy gets the snap, puts his head down and bulls forward. It works. Why didn’t Trubisky and the Bears use it effectively again? They had previously converted two other 4th and 1’s on the same drive. One was a shotgun pass to Mooney while the other was a QB sneak. On the third one, they put Trubisky back in shotgun and it was incomplete. Why pass? The world may never know. Enough with the tricks and the schemes. “JUST SNEAK IT.” This could be a new Nike ad campaign. Who would star? You guessed it… Tom Brady.

Thumbs Down

  1. FS #39 Eddie Jackson – Make a tackle. Make an interception. He has really regressed this season.
  2. ILB #55 Josh Woods – I understand he had little warning that he was actually playing and that is only partially his fault. However, he played poorly in Roquan Smith’s stead. He should be, hopefully, better in the next game after getting a week of practice as the starter.
  3. OLB #50 Barkevious Mingo – Intercept that pass!
  4. ILB #59 Danny Trevathan – No matter how many times I rewatch the Packers 72 yard touchdown by Marquez Valdes-Scantling, I can’t quite figure out what was supposed to happen with the Bears defensive scheme. Why was there no safety help for Trevathan? Chicago shouldn’t have an older inside linebacker who struggles in coverage be responsible for covering a fast wideout on a nine route straight down the field. Blame Pagano, Trevathan, or the safeties, but something was definitely wrong with this scheme. Rodgers took advantage of it.
  5. Bears offensive coaches – Why don’t they use TE #80 Jimmy Graham in the red zone more often? Graham’s biggest asset is his height on jump ball passes in the end zone. Why are the Bears so inconsistent on this? Some weeks they clearly use this weapon. Other weeks they clearly ignore Graham in the end zone? I mean to say, not only is he not targeted on those plays, but he’s not even in the game at the time.

I think we’ve written enough about this game. Let’s move on to the NFC Playoffs!

In the 1990 postseason, the Bears hosted the Saints in the “old” Soldier Field. Brad Muster carries this one as Saints superstar Rickey Jackson stalks his prey. Chicago won 16-6.

#7 seed Chicago Bears (8-8) at #2 seed New Orleans Saints (12-4)

Sunday, January 10, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome – 3:40 PM Central

Despite all the negativity surrounding the Bears 2020 season, at least they qualified for the NFC Playoffs. This marks the Bears second playoff appearance in three seasons under Head Coach Matt Nagy. His record as HC is now 28-20 in the regular season and 0-1 in the playoffs.

It will be tough for Nagy to even his playoff record as the Bears face perhaps the best team in the NFL in the New Orleans Saints. Check out the numbers below:

Troy Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER)

  • Chicago Bears (8-8) : 19th overall, 24th offense, 12th defense
  • New Orleans Saints (12-4) : 2nd overall, 3rd offense, 6th defense

Football Outsiders

  • Chicago : 15th overall, 25th offense, 8th defense, 8th special teams
  • New Orleans : 1st overall, 7th offense, 2nd defense, 5th special teams

Sports Betting Dime

The opening line on this game started at New Orleans -9.5. It has remained about the same, moving to the Saints -10 for most of the week. I suspect when the injuries and COVID situations are announced closer to game time, the point spread may increase for New Orleans if Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are indeed playing. According to Sports Betting Dime’s prediction, New Orleans will cover the current spread with a 26.2-13.1 victory.

Team Rankings

The website has a fantastic overview. Even without subscribing, the information one can gain is immense. Their comprehensive website is impressive. I can only imagine the vast amounts of information that can be purchased on top of the free content.

Prediction Recap :

Last week we predicted the Bears would defeat the Green Bay Packers 31-21. We were wrong. With the loss, the “Dutch Lion” finished his regular season with only three losses, all of them being home divisional rivalry games. That’s interesting, no?

Chicago Bears : 8-8

Dutch Lion : 13-3

After the Bears performance to close out the 2020 regular season, it’s hard to see them fixing so many problems in just one week as they have to travel to New Orleans to face one of the best teams in the NFL. Plus, the injuries are really starting to creep up on them at just the wrong time. It sounds as if superstar linebacker #58 Roquan Smith will indeed be out with a dislocated elbow suffered on the Packers opening drive last week. Also, Darnell Mooney is out with an ankle injury. On the other sideline, the Saints are likely to get their big playmakers back. Both RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas are playing, according to reports during this week. Don’t forget these are electric weapons for New Orleans. You could argue Kamara is the best receiving running back in the league while Thomas might be the best wide receiver in the entire NFL. No wonder QB Drew Brees is still dangerous, even though he’s old and injured. Give Saints HC Sean Payton (“dahhh, he’s a Bear” – in former coach Dave Wannstedt’s gravelly voice) a few weapons and he can make you look like a high schooler.

Both objectively and subjectively, all information points to New Orleans winning this week’s Playoff matchup. They are ranked as either the first or second best team in the league in all of the analytical rankings. All of the Saints units are ranked in the top seven in the NFL as well, including special teams. They are on fire.

The Bears are the epitome of an average team. They are inconsistent. They are ranked in the middle of the NFL in all of the categories, with only the defense and special teams peaking at 8th. Chicago is 8-8, injured and scuffling.

Sure the offense shows flashes. Sure the defense shows flashes. Surprisingly, some might say ironically, the most consistent player on the Bears this year has been the placekicker, #2 Cairo Santos. He had an excellent year, making 30 of 32 field goals and 36 of 37 PAT’s. If only he had been there in 2018 during the double-doink game rather than Cody Parkey. Who knows? Maybe the 2018 Bears would have become Champions. There definitely was an opening.

Bottom line for this week: It’s not enough. New Orleans is favored by 10 points and will win this football game on Sunday. Will the Saints cover the points? Now that’s a more interesting debate. I’m right on that border for now. It’s an ATS “pick-em” but a definite S/U victory for the home team. PICK: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints 34 Chicago Bears 23

Remember the 2006 NFC Championship? That was a tough day for Drew Brees but a glorious day for Bears fans in the “new” Soldier Field. Chicago won 39-14 to advance to the Super Bowl.
  • By the way, this is the third all-time postseason meeting between the Bears and Saints. Chicago won both previous meetings in Soldier Field. In 1990 the score was 16-6 in the Wild Card Round. In 2006 the Bears dominated 39-14 to win the NFC Championship. This will be the first Playoff meeting in New Orleans.

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