The Obstructed NFC Wild Card Preview

As we sit on the eve of the playoffs, the NFC Wild Card games are going to be a couple of interesting games. We have the defending Super Bowl champions having to take the long road to a repeat. We have a team who has relied on their defense to win games again, just like they did over 30 years ago for their only Super Bowl Title. We have a team who has rebuilt and retooled for another Super Bowl run. And finally we have a team who made a big trade midway through the season hoping to catch fire the rest of the way. And they ultimately did. So we have teams set with storylines and goals so it really should be a fun start to the playoffs.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT DALLAS COWBOYS, 8:15 (SATURDAY), FOX

FOR THE SEAHAWKS: They got there with a revamped defense and a young one. They god rid of the major veterans from the Legion of Boom years (save really Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright) and have started over, but it really worked as the poise and focus has been there (something I felt was missing for the past three seasons in Seattle). The Seahawks will rely once again on offense with Russell Wilson who probably had his best season of his career this year (3,000+ yards, 35 TD’s only 7 INT’s with a comp. rate of 65.6). However, Wilson can be like Barry Sanders of quarterbacks where he tries to do too much and can actually lose yards now and then (51 sacks on him this year, most in his career). And Dallas is a team that Wilson can’t try to be cute with the football against as they can get after him like nobody else. However, what has made Wilson more difficult has been the presence of a run game, something that really has been missing since 2014 when Marshawn Lynch was there. Chris Carson is a back who had over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns. If he has a good game, it will make Dallas’s defense honest which is great for Wilson.

FOR THE COWBOYS: The Amari Cooper trade installed new life into the franchise from top to bottom. Dallas went 7-1 down the stretch with Cooper on the roster (not counting the Tennessee game). Dak Prescott was the one who benefited the most as many started to view him as a flash in the pan. Prescott completed 69% of his passes with 12 TD’s and 3 INT in that span. Ezekiel Elliott showed he is one of the game’s elite backs and can really put pressure on any team himself. And in the game against Seattle earlier this season rushed for over 100 yards. The Cowboys defense has been pretty strong all season if not spectacular. They have guys who can get after quarterbacks (Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford), and a great young linebacker that is fun to watch in Leighton Vander Esch. So the front seven for Dallas will have to be a major issue for Seattle.

OUTLOOK: The key match-up is going to be Seattle’s receivers against Dallas’s secondary. The one thing about Seattle and how great they’ve been has been the play of Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett notably for the Seahawks. If the Cowboys can’t get pressure Wilson, this may be a long game for Dallas. It will also be can Wilson play without trying to do too much with the ball such as trying to extend plays. If he can avoid that, then I think Seattle is in great position to win. However, he has also been hit a lot this year again. I don’t know if the Seahawks line can stop Dallas’s pass rush. On the other side, Dallas has been a far different team than the one that lost to Seattle in what feels like a century ago. I don’t know for as good as the Seahawks defense is, if there is any one player that can stop Cooper on the outside. That may be the two things I give an edge on Dallas with and that may be enough to send them into the Divisional round. COWBOYS 23, SEAHAWKS 20

EAGLES AT BEARS, 4:40 (SUNDAY), FOX

FOR THE EAGLES: Well, it has a small ring to it. Starting QB is injured and backup comes in and gets them to the playoffs. Philadelphia who had been somewhat lying in the weeds all season, strung a winning streak near the end of the season to defend their Super Bowl title. Nick Foles gets the nod, hoping to keep that magic like they had last season. But this time they have to do it away from Philadelphia and do it in a hostile environment in Chicago. Tough task to take. But Foles has Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and now Golden Tate to have a formidable passing game. However, the lack of a running game is very problematic this year (28th in the league in rushing yards) and going against the #1 run defense in the league in Chicago. This right here, if Philadelphia has no luck whatsoever, the game could not last very long. Foles however has been solid, but again, Chicago’s defense is excellent against the pass and opportunistic as well. So the Eagles will need to do something on defense such as getting interceptions and fumbles. That means the Eagles front four need to put pressure on Mitch Trubisky to have a shot. Trubisky had a great sophomore season, but hasn’t been tested in playoff time yet. The Eagles will have to force Trubisky into making some errors and stop the tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. It’s a tough task to do doing everything on Chicago’s fairly balanced offense.

FOR THE BEARS: Chicago will rely on their #1 defense to get them to Atlanta in February. They are one who relies on getting turnovers and making those big stops especially from keeping the drive from extending into longer drives. With the Eagles having a non-existent running game this season, the Bears may not have to worry much on that and focus on going after Foles. In that case, you can see it being a long game or Philadelphia’s offense. With the Bears offense, Trubisky will have to play smart and not try to take major chances down the field if he is pressured. He threw for 12 INT’s (not bad) but it seems like those INT’s have come at times where he’s been under the gun and tries to do too much a la Russell Wilson. It may have to come with experience for him as the Bears have’t seen the playoffs for a good while. But I think to take pressure off of Trubisky, both Cohen and Howard will have to be actively involved in the offense so Trubisky has a great chance. When they are involved, Trubisky fares far better than when that aspect is shut down.

OUTLOOK: This is the one game that I feel “comfortable” in my pick. Chicago’s defense is tough across the board and Philadelphia right now is really one-dimensional. That bodes well for the Bears who can just get after Foles. As for the other side, if Trubisky plays smart and doesn’t turn the ball over, then I don’t see it being much of a game. The only way Philadelphia wins is if Chicago makes mistake after mistake. I don’t see it happening. Chicago has been a pretty disciplined group all season. Maybe a concern should be the special teams notably with Cody Parkey on the Bears. If it does, I don’t know if it affects this game. BEARS 27, EAGLES 10

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Sunday Night Football Preview: Rams @ Bears

Week 14 brings NFL fans a very interesting Sunday Night Football game.  The Los Angeles Rams head into to Soldier field with a record of 11-1 to square off with the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears at 8-4.

The Bears are coming off a tough overtime loss to the Giants.  The Bears were without starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and it really showed.  Backup quarterback Chase Daniel threw 2 interceptions and had difficulties handling some snaps which really hurt the Bears offense in a tight game.  Trubisky should be back Sunday night against the Rams.  Head Coach Matt Nagy seemed optimistic about Trubisky playing this weekend, especially after being a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.  If Trubisky plays and is 100%, this Bears offense has potential to put up some points against a Rams defense that has given up over 30 points on 4 occasions this year.  I would expect the Bears to try to run early on the Rams with Jordan Howard and mixing in some touches for Tarik Cohen.  Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel have given the Bears a much more reliable receiving group this season, and they will need them to be at their best on Sunday night if they are to pull off this upset.  If the Bears go down early, I expect a lot of passing, which opens the door for Aaron Donald who is having a career year on the defensive line for the Rams.

On the other side of the ball, we will see if a good offense can beat good defense.  The Rams are easily one of the best offenses in the league this year.  Third-year quarterback Jared Goff is having his best year as a pro, and running back Todd Gurley is in the MVP race.  Throw in some very talented receivers like Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, and you get a team that is averaging 34.9 points per game.  Lining up across from the Rams is a top 5 Bears defense gives up 317 yards per game and only 20.1 points per game.  This unit is led by Khalil Mack who has been worth every penny for the Bears since trading for him before the season.  His presence on the outside has allowed for Akiem Hicks to become more dominant on the inside.  The Bear’s secondary is led by Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller who respectively have four and five interceptions on the season.  Although they can look shaky at times, the secondary is certainly capable of taking a receiver off of his groove.

Rams Keys to victory: For the Rams, it is simple.  Keep doing what they have been all year. Let Gurley get settled in and run him often.  If the Bears can’t stop the run continue to do it all night.  If the run game isn’t there, Jared Goff is more than capable than slinging the ball around the field and throwing for a couple hundred yards.  The only thing to worry about is the Chicago pass rush.  With Mack lurking every pass play can be a bit nerve-wracking for an offense.  I think Sean McVay is a smart enough coach to realize this and will give Goff quick and easy throws to combat the pass rush.  If the Rams take care of the ball against this pesky defense they should be fine.  The defense just has to be good enough and make the plays they should. The Rams can simply outscore the Bears and win without much of a worry.

Bears Keys to victory:  To keep it simple, the Bears pass rush needs to be firing on all cylinders.  If they can make Goff uncomfortable, the Rams become one-dimensional with Gurley and stopping him becomes that much easier when you can stack the box.  On offense, Trubisky needs to be solid and take care of the ball.  I think the X-Factor for the Bears is Tarik Cohen, who has fit in very well in Chicago’s new offensive scheme this year.  If the Bears can win the turnover battle and make some timely catches on offense I think they can pull it off.

Overall, this is the biggest matchup of the year for the Bears.  This is the best team they will face all year and they will get to do it on national television in primetime.  The weather could play a factor, and the home crowd will only help the Bears chances.  I look for them to come out with some intensity as they did against the Vikings last month on Sunday night.  In the end, the Rams are too talented offensively and will pull out a 33-26 victory on the road.  If the Bears hang tough they should gain a lot of respect around the league.  If they can upset the Rams, they are a team to be feared come January.

Obstructed Thoughts on the Khalil Mack Trade

Woke up yesterday morning to hear the Bears acquired Khalil Mack for two first rounders and later signed him to a 6-year, $141 million contract.

Wow.

Have to admit Chicago had the gall to do it as the Bears have been irrelevant to the NFL for the past 5 seasons and being in the NFC North cellar by a wide margin from Minnesota, Detroit, and Green Bay.  Of course, this move will make Chicago a threat in the division and make the NFC North go back to having that old NFC Norris feel of being the Black & Blue division as all four teams have high expectations in 2018.

So, what are my thoughts of the trade for both teams and such?

For the Bears

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

It makes them an instant threat in the NFC North and hopes for a division championship.  Chicago hopes the Bears defense is returning to the old Monsters of the Midway mentality or even when the Bears had Urlacher, Briggs, etc. And yep.  Adding Mack with top draft pick Roquan Smith should help.  Chicago has to hope the secondary (which was great) can get turnovers (ranked 29th last year in INT’s).  And they are hoping Mack’s pressuring and terrorizing quarterbacks will help spike that turnover rate.  You have to think Chicago’s defense propels them as the best in the division and if not in the top 5 in the NFL, very close to it.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions

Mitch Trubisky will have to take a major leap in his 2nd year if the Bears want to be a Super Bowl contender.  I’ve been harsh on Trubisky since his days at North Carolina and don’t see how he is considered a franchise quarterback.  In wins at UNC he looked sharp, but in losses, a different story, especially to Virginia Tech and Stanford, where they both had stout defenses.  Last year, nothing screamed out of him being a “QB for the future” in Chicago.  And watching him play last year it didn’t have any vibe that he would be a guy that could get Chicago to the promised land.  Even his lone 300+ game was marred with 3 INT’s against Detroit.  “But, but he has better weapons now!  They signed Robinson, Gabriel, and Burton!  And they still have Cohen and Howard!”  To the Cohen and Howard part, agreed.  Those guys can be one of the best 1-2 backfield tandems in the NFL.  And they gave him a bevvy of weapons, which I think was solid.  But to play devil’s advocate: one is coming off a torn ACL (Robinson), another going from the slot to a bigger role of secondary receiver (Gabriel) and the other one hasn’t played many snaps and wasn’t a starter at any point not to mention mostly being a special teams guy.  “If that’s the case, he can be a game manager!”  IF Chicago becomes a running team big time (which they can) then he most certainly could be a game manager, but he needs to be accurate and at times to which he really wasn’t.  I mean if Mark Sanchez can get to a conference championship in back-to-back seasons then Trubisky most definitely can.  But if you are trying to rely on Trubisky’s arm, that’s where things may head south for Chicago.  “But he’s a great team leader!”  Good for a game manager, yes.  But Bucs players have said the same thing on Jameis Winston too.  So I think if the Bears are to get where the fans hope they can get, Trubisky will have to be a QB with a 65% accuracy rate and have a good TD/INT ratio and that means anything less than 14 INT would suffice.  Anything more, and that’s a problem.  But either way Trubisky has to step up big time this year if the Bears are to really be a threat.

The Bears didn’t overpay but overpaid for Mack.  Let me explain what I mean.  I think the two first rounders are fine and overall they got a couple picks coming back (late rounders) so I think they fleeced Oakland in that regard.  But 6 years, $141 for a defensive player…that’s a lot and it sometimes backfires (think Suh for Miami).  Somebody made a comment on Twitter saying if you are going to get key players, get them when your franchise QB is still on his rookie deal.  Chicago did the right thing there.  However, that may really be sticky points when the likes of Floyd, Howard, and others come up on their contract deals and are looking to get more money from the Bears.  With all of that said, Mack is a top 5 defensive player in this league without question and already snagged a Defensive Player of the Year trophy just 2 years ago.  And he is a franchise guy.  So the overpaying of him may be worth it.

For the Raiders

Gruden.jpg

Jon Gruden is running things and maybe running the Raiders into the ground already. Reggie McKenzie would have probably done more I think to keep Khalil Mack and McKenzie’s comments may have shown he really isn’t the guy that has the final say on moves.  Gruden’s comments of saying “well, we weren’t very good with him on defense last year” was pretty much a sign that Gruden didn’t want Mack around.  Gruden is a good coach, don’t get me wrong, but that Tampa Bay Super Bowl run was won by Tony Dungy players on defense (Brooks, Sapp, Rice, Lynch, Barber, etc.).  Gruden was more inclined to put a Bucs having a pretty little offense, even over a championship defense like they had in 2002.  And after those players started to age and/or leave, Tampa Bay was a middle-of-the-road team with Gruden.  Bottom line is, you don’t trade away a top 5 defensive player even for two first round picks like that.  Ever.

Reggie McKenzie is a lame duck.  As I said, I feel like McKenzie would have done more to keep Mack in the fold had it not been for Gruden, but given how Gruden has a “Raider for life” contract now, it makes McKenzie somewhat inept.  It’s what Gruden says that will go, not McKenzie.  They may get two very good picks pending on where Chicago finishes in the season especially if they still don’t see a playoff spot, but will there be a franchise guy at pick 18?  It’s possible, but not probable.

The Raiders may be worse on defense than last year.  Khalil Mack played every game in his career and has been healthy.  His reputation with the Raiders was stellar and nobody has a bad thing to say on the guy.  And even though his numbers fell a little bit, he still had double-digits in sacks (10.5, just .5 off from his season in 2016) through double teams.  The moves they made on defense isn’t appealing at all and Oakland could end up with having the worst defense in the NFL.

Overall I think Chicago fleeced Oakland badly in this trade.  It propels the Bears out of the NFC doldrums and into the thick of it, though I still think there is a piece missing or two, but overall it is what the Bears needed.  The Raiders, why?  From all accounts it seems like Gruden never wanted Mack around in the first place and that to me is very dumbfounding.  But hey, time will tell what happens with this trade.  But right now, gah.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed NFC North Preview-2018

Disclaimer: with all the LeSean McCoy troubles surrounding him, I’m revising my prediction to Buffalo being 6-10 in 2018 as regardless of the situation, the NFL will probably be suspending McCoy at some point.  Back to your regularly scheduled blog post….

The famed NFC Norris Division, the the Black-and-Blue Division, the physical and mean division…

We hear the division being called a lot of things over the years because of the long-standing rivalries the four teams have with each other.  And if you go to any one of the towns, there is disdain for their other three rivals like no other.  And while the NFC North to me isn’t the best division, it may be the fiercest one out of them in 2018 as four teams have plenty of Hope Springs Eternal going on.  However, all four teams have holes thus making it anybody’s division.

For years and even now many point to Green Bay as THE team to beat in that division because of one Aaron Rodgers.  Last year his injury knocked Green Bay out of playoff contention, sent the team to 7-9, a third place finish, and had been swept by the rival Lions for the first time since 1991.  Many view Green Bay with Rodgers as the team to beat in the NFC, but I think with holes on both sides of the ball that the Packers are in trouble, even in their own division.  The Lions despite going 9-7 last year, having back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1994-95, fired Jim Caldwell and hired Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to run things and have made a huge press to build the team on the lines.  They have the potential to be really good.  The Vikings added underrated quarterback Kirk Cousins to the mix to balance out a team with an assortment of good offensive weapons and a defense that is very physical and opportunistic.  And the Bears could be a sleeper in the division pending on how far young quarterback Mitch Trubisky takes them.  So the Packers division?  I don’t think so.  It will be a fight.

Minnesota

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

LAST SEASON: 13-3 (1ST PLACE, DEFEATED NEW ORLEANS IN THE DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF, LOST TO PHILADELPHIA IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB-Kirk Cousins (FA-Washington), DT-Sheldon Richardson (FA-Seattle), QB-Trevor Siemian (Trade-Denver), WR-Kendall Wright (FA-Chicago), CB-Mike Hughes (Draft-UCF), OT-Brian O’Neill (Draft-Pittsburgh)

KEY LOSSES: QB-Sam Bradford (FA-Arizona) CB-Tramiane Brock (FA-Denver), QB-Case Keenum (FA-Denver), RB-Jerick McKinnon (FA-San Francisco), WR-Jarius Wright (Released-Carolina), QB-Teddy Bridgewater (FA-New York Jets), G-Joe Berger (Retired), DT-Tom Johnson (FA-Seattle), DT-Shamar Stephen (FA-Seattle)

One of the most unexplainable things that happened in the playoffs last year was Minnesota falling on their behinds on defense starting in the second half to New Orleans.  The Vikings defense was rolling and then it just derailed the rest of the way.  Now they are trying to answer it by drafting Mike Hughes at corner and push the scrutinized Trae Waynes for that #2 cornerback spot.  If the secondary solidifies which they can, Minnesota will be a force in the NFC.  The Vikings made one of the bigger splashes in the off-season signing Kirk Cousins from Washington as he will end any quarterback controversy that had been rolling in the Twin Cities the last few years with Sam Bradford and Case Keenum.  Cousins threw for over 4,000 yards last year on a team that didn’t have an embarrassment of riches at receiver with the Redskins.  But he will have Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph.  Also, if Laquon Treadwell gets things going, watch out.  Adding on, Cousins will have Kyle Rudolph especially in the red zone and handing it off to Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook (whose season was cut short by an ACL injury).  Minnesota could have one of the strongest offenses to go with their physical defense and it could also be a memorable year in Minnesota. KEY QUESTION: Can Kirk Cousins guide the Vikings to a Super Bowl?  It’s possible, yes.  I think he is a far more effective QB than what they’ve had the last couple of years.  Minnesota can’t have defensive lapses though in January like they did.

MY PREDICTION: 12-4.  Vikings won’t miss a beat in 2018.  Their schedule is relatively favorable including an early road game in Green Bay which is more of an advantage to the road teams playing there as it doesn’t get bone-chilling.

Matthew Stafford

DETROIT LIONS

LAST SEASON: 9-7 (2ND PLACE)

KEY ADDITIONS: CB-DeShawn Shead (FA-Seattle), LB-Christian Jones (FA-Chicago), LB-Devon Kennard (FA-New York Giants), G-Kenny Wiggins (FA-Los Angeles Chargers), RB-LeGarrette Blount (FA-Philadelphia), TE-Luke Wilson (FA-Seattle), DT-Sylvester Williams (FA-Tennessee), TE-Levine Toilolo (FA-Atlanta), QB-Matt Cassel (FA-Tennessee), C-Frank Ragnow (Draft-Arkansas), RB-Kerryon Johnson (Draft-Auburn), S-Tracy Walker (Draft-Louisiana)

KEY LOSSES: TE-Eric Ebron (Released-Indianapolis), S-Don Carey (FA-Jacksonville), CB-DJ Hayden (FA-Jacksonville), TE-Darren Fells (FA-Cleveland), Haloti Ngata (FA-Philadelphia), LB-Tahir Whitehead (FA-Oakland), C-Travis Swanson (FA-New York Jets)

If anybody who knows me knows I grew up in the Detroit area and have followed the Lions.  They also know that I never have high hopes for the team especially when Detroit had Barry Sanders and failed to win in January football games.  And I jokingly go in denial whenever the Lions have made the playoffs with Matthew Stafford as the quarterback.  However, Detroit is an interesting squad.  Stafford is a quarterback I think that probably doesn’t get enough respect for what he’s done over the years.  Of course, his big-game/playoff woes have come to the forefront as well.  But he’s still one of the game’s top quarterbacks and one of the toughest ones around.  And he will have an offensive line that has been built and re-committed I think, which could make him very scary and a possible MVP candidate if things go well.  He has weapons of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, TJ Jones, and Kenny Golladay as Detroit’s receiving corps is pretty strong (key note: Tate and Jones both had 1,000+ receiving yards).  Detroit looks to be very committed to the run game with adding LeGarrette Blount and drafting Kerryon Johnson this off-season to go along with Theo Riddick.  They may once again not have a 1,000 yard rusher but I think somebody will end up with a couple of 100 yard rushing games.  Defensively there were some issues last year against the pass (27th in yards allowed-ouch) which is strange given the Lions pass rush was a solid one with Ezekiel Ansah and Anthony Zettel came on strong while the secondary has two pro bowlers in Glover Quin and Darius Slay.  Some of the issue resided on injuries to Tavon Wilson and whoever was the opposite of Slay (Nevin Lawson, though his play improved as the season continued).  The other issue was the linebacking corps was addressed when Detroit signed Devon Kennard and Christian Jones in the off-season.  Kennard had 4.5 sacks in 12 games while Jones registered 90 tackles as they join young linebacker Jarrad Davis to solidify that area.  So I think Detroit on defense will be stronger and the Lions improved on the two key things this off-season, which was the defense and the running game.  It may carry them to their first division title since 1993. KEY QUESTION: Can Detroit’s running game finally take off with Blount there now?  Not the ideal of running backs, but Blount does bring a seasoned veteran Detroit sorely misses in the backfield.  If the Lions have any kind of run game, it will add a dimension to the offense that can make them a top 3 offense in the NFL.

MY PREDICTION: 11-5.  Detroit doesn’t have the easiest of schedules including a stretch of seeing the 49ers, Patriots, and Cowboys early on, but it starts to ease up after their bye week and can make a strong run after.  They have a road trip of being at Arizona and Buffalo late, which could be a blessing if they are in the thick of a playoff push.

Green Bay

GREEN BAY PACKERS:

LAST SEASON: 7-9 (3RD PLACE)

KEY ADDITIONS: DE-Muhammad Wilkerson (FA-New York Jets), TE-Jimmy Graham (FA-Seattle), CB-Tramon Williams (FA-Arizona), TE-Marcedes Lewis (FA-Jacksonville), OT-Byron Bell (FA-Dallas), QB-DeShone Kizer (Trade-Cleveland), CB-Jaire Alexander (Draft-Louisville), CB-Josh Jackson (Draft-Iowa), LB-Oren Burks (Draft-Vanderbilt)

KEY LOSSES: S-Morgan Burnett (FA-Pittsburgh), WR-Jeff Janis (FA-Cleveland), TE-Richard Rodgers (FA-Philadelphia), LB-Joe Thomas (FA-Dallas) WR-Jordy Nelson (Released-Oakland), S-Damarious Randall (Trade-Cleveland)

If you’re reading this and about to go out of your mind that I have the Packers 3rd, or at least the Packers behind Detroit, don’t.  Just don’t.  I’ve heard all the comments in response to why I don’t think Green Bay is higher than the Vikings or Lions even with a healthy Rodgers.  Yes, the defense should improve, at least the corners, but remember, Green Bay will still start two rookie corners to begin the year and to think they will just take the league over by storm in 2018, you’re kidding yourself.  Secondly there is still no pass rush on the defense and Clay Matthews isn’t the same guy he was 8 years ago.  It will also put more pressure on the corners if there is no pressure on the QB.  So I still expect the Packers to struggle defensively despite the secondary upgrades and a new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who will be a welcome addition but it may take a year or two before Green Bay’s defense is up to snuff with their NFC North counterparts.  Secondly, there is still problems with the running game, as in not upgraded in the off-season or the draft.  Aaron Rodgers will have a tight end to throw at in Jimmy Graham, who is still a force when used right and will still have the likes of Davante Adams and Randall Cobb.  And Rodgers does have a knack of making a WR out of nothing so the passing game will be fine.  But another thing is a concern is that the Packers have an unhappy Rodgers as he wasn’t keen to some of the coaching changes, notably Alex Van Pelt and Edgar Bennett being dismissed.  And it also sounds like he is unhappy Green Bay cut his favorite target for years in Jordy Nelson.  And now talk of Rodgers wanting a contract extension is going on.  Now I have heard arguments “well, Rodgers has every right to complain.”  If he wants to complain, fine.  But don’t air it out to the media like he’s been doing.  Not even Brady or Brees has done that.  And I have a view where if you have a franchise QB who is an unhappy camper like Rodgers, only bad things happen for the franchise.  KEY QUESTION:  Will Rodgers be more of a drop-back passer given his moving around got him injured?  I don’t think it will, but Mike McCarthy may tell Rodgers to cool it.  Whether Rodgers listens to McCarthy or not is another issue in its own right.

MY PREDICTION:  9-7.  I don’t want to hear “Rodgers is great enough Green Bay can’t finish worse than 10 wins!”  How many years have we seen Drew Brees put up numbers galore in New Orleans and the Saints finish at 8-8 or 7-9?  The Packers still have holes, but I do like the upgrades in the secondary.  They aren’t as strong as the others in the NFC in general, not just the North.

Chicago

CHICAGO BEARS 

LAST SEASON: 5-11 (4TH PLACE)

KEY ADDITIONS: WR-Allen Robinson (FA-Jacksonville), WR-Taylor Gabriel (FA-Atlanta) TE-Trey Burton (FA-Philadelphia), QB-Chase Daniel (FA-New Orleans) OG-Earl Watford (FA-Arizona), LB-Roquan Smith (Draft-Georgia), C-James Daniels (Draft-Iowa), WR-Anthony Miller (Draft-Memphis)

KEY LOSSES: OG-Josh Sitton (FA-Miami), LB-Pernell McPhee (Released-Washington), S-Quentin Demps (Released), LB-Willie Young (Released), LB-Christian Jones (FA-Detroit), K-Cairo Santos (FA-New York Jets), DE-Mitch Unrein (FA-Tampa Bay), C-Andrew DePaola (FA-Oakland), OT-Tom Compton (FA-Minnesota), WR-Cameron Meredith (FA-New Orleans)

Well, the off-season was a simple one for Chicago: give Mitch Trubisky weapons.  They gave a lot of money to former Jags #1 receiver Allen Robinson and Falcons slot receiver Taylor Gabriel while bringing in Eagles tight end Trey Burton.  Trubisky showed flashes of being an NFL QB but had issues in his rookie season.  But he will have one of the best one-two punches in the NFL at running back to give him some help.  Even though it will be his 2nd season, any regression will make Bears fans wonder the high price they paid to get Trubisky in the 2017 draft.  Chicago’s defense is trending up and may have the best defense in the division from that standpoint and they added Roquan Smith at LB, thus giving hope he may be the next great Bears linebacker following Urlacher, Singletary, and Butkus.  If you saw Smith play at Georgia, you have to think Chicago got a steal.  But the Bears offense needs to step up and I’m still not sold on Trubisky at QB though.  He will have to step up in a division that has Rodgers and Stafford in there and it may be tough.  KEY QUESTION: Is Mitch Trubisky the right guy in Chicago?  No, but the Bears will die trying to see if he is.

MY PREDICTION: 6-10.  Trubisky I think will still be turnover prone but I think Chicago is taking the right steps to contend.

 

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Mitch Trubisky’s Status (Preseason Week 2)

 

There was multiple QB’s selected in the 2017 NFL draft, and I believe that many of them could potentially start at some point this season. Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) was the first quarterback taken in the draft, coming in at no. 2 to the Chicago Bears.

Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears) 24/33 2 TD, AVG 6.8 YDS, 72.7% passing rate

My observation (the most you can make for two preseason games) is that Mitch Trubisky could start this season, despite HC John Fox’s insistence that he would sit the entire season for development purposes.

The QB situation in Chicago isn’t very healthy at this point with Mike Glennon struggling heavily so far with 1 touchdown in the past two games and 2 interceptions. Trubisky has been repeatedly outshining him in the limited playing time he has had with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

At the moment, Mark Sanchez is also on the roster, taking second string, for some reason currently unknown to everyone but the organization itself. Mark Sanchez has also barely played in the past two weeks with only 6 passing attempts.

I do admire the way the Bears are trying to slowly progress Trubisky, even if that means a mediocre season is inevitable with Mike Glennon under center. Despite Mike Glennon starting, the Bears’ staff realizes Trubisky’s franchise quarterback potential, and are willing to wait until they think he is truely ready to start. Whether that be the 1st game of the season or even next year.Trubisky is part of a 2017 NFL Draft class that has many potential QB starters in the NFL. There is only so much you can learn about these players in the preseason, and I believe we can judge them more clearly if they have the chance to start during the regular season this year. Trubisky can only get better, especially since he only started his senior year of his college career.

Mark Sanchez

 

 

 

Sources:  www.nfl.com/player/ , http://www.thetenyardline.com/2017/08/15/mitch-trubiskys-move-up-the-depth-chart-could-come-sooner-than-expected/ , http://www.quintoquartobr.com/nfl/gm-do-chicago-bears-mike-glennon-e-nosso-quarterback-titular/ , https://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/9269/ , http://beforeitsnews.com/sports/2017/08/watch-bears-rookie-qb-mitch-trubisky-throw-his-first-nfl-td-pass-2697610.html

 

Season Preview: Chicago Bears. 

As a Chicago native and a Bears fan, it’s safe to say that the Monsters of Midway are rebuilding. They started rebuilding by drafting Mitchell Trubisky number two overall in the draft. Everyone was definitely blindsided by that pick because most football fans thought they were drafting an O-Lineman. There offensive line has suffered the last 3 years and has not improved this offseason either. The 2017-2018 Chicago Bears will be an interesting team to watch this year, due to the fact that you sign a QB to a 3 year 45 million contract and then draft a QB, doesn’t seem to add up. The Bears last year were 3-13, riddled with injuries on defense and offense including a QB carrousel that wouldn’t end. Watching all 16 games last season was dreadful, but I saw hope in all 3 phases. The defense this year will be healthy, stronger and young. However McPhee is starting the season on the PUP list, watching the defense last year you could tell thesw guys were playing hard from the start till the end but gave up so much in the run game. These young DB’s have so much potential and I see a bright future in all of them. My defensive player to watch this year is Leonard Floyd, he had 7 sacks, 10 assists, and 33 combined tackles in 12 games before he went down with an injury but watch him get 10+ sacks and tackle a lot of more people. As for the offensive side of the ball, turnovers were a major issue last year and throwing the ball where it shouldn’t be thrown. Brian Hoyer  had a phenomenal stretch of games with no interceptions until injury shut him down for the year. Then the O-Line was nothing better, gave up 28 sacks and turned over the ball 19 times (Int). My offensive player to watch this year will be Kevin White, I know he hasn’t played a full season and has just been riddled with injuries but I see major potential in him. He will find the speed, endurance and strength to be a top receiver. If he can get 10 touchdown catches 500 receiving yards, I will be very impressed. As for the overall record for the Bears, I’m going with 6-10 this year, 3 more wins than last year but more then likely they will exceed 6 wins because a lot of games they were up but just gave up in the end. Can’t wait for the season this year.  

Written by: Alex Lorek