Oh brother. Another Bears/Packers game that didn’t turn out the way Bears fans were hoping. Instead, the Green Bay Packers (5-4) found a way to once again beat the Chicago Bears (3-6), this time 23-16, despite the fact the Bears were favored for the first time since 2008 and Green Bay was dealing with massive amounts of injuries.
This game was a microcosm of a quarter century of Bears vs Packers history. In fact, one play in particular was a microcosm.
a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.
You know which play I’m talking about. Green Bay was leading 10-3 early in the 2nd quarter. Chicago was driving the ball. They faced a 3rd and 13 on the Packers 25 yard line with 8:09 left in the 1st half. Rookie QB Mitch Trubisky thew a screen pass to RB Benny Cunningham on a nice play call by OC Dowell Loggains. Cunningham surprisingly took it down inside the 5 yard line. THEN, it got weird, just as it “got weird” so many times over the last 25 years.
Cunningham surged for the goal line as he got shoved out-of-bounds. He stretched the football inside the pylon in trying to score a touchdown. What do you think happened? On a slippery, rainy day in Soldier Field, he lost control of the ball and it hit the pylon. The on-field referees ruled Cunningham out of bounds on the 2-yard line. Bears HC John Fox challenged the play pretty quickly hoping to get a TD with the help of the instant replay. Fox ended up winning the challenge…..BUT oh no! The call showed the refs were wrong. He wasn’t out of bounds. Instead, Benny lost the ball, it hit the pylon, the ball was turned over to Green Bay on a touchback, and the game was essentially over.
Typical. Can we blame Fox for this? I’m not so sure. First of all, it was Cunningham’s fault. DON’T STRETCH FOR THE ENDZONE UNLESS IT’S 4TH DOWN! Cunningham admitted after the game that the coaches always preach this but he didn’t listen. Secondly, even if Fox did NOT challenge, it’s likely Packers HC Mike McCarthy would have challenged it once the Green Bay guys saw the fumble. In essence, the Bears were screwed either way, UNLESS they hustled up to the line and snapped the ball before Green Bay saw the inevitable overturn from Cunningham’s boneheaded play. Was it even the right decision by the NFL replay officials? Debatable.
Even though I really like and respect Fox color analyst Chris Spielman, I thought he made a blatantly wrong statement when he said, ” Correct call, no doubt about it.” I disagree. It was clearly debatable. There was definitely doubt. Cunningham may have had possession of the ball as his foot dragged out-of-bounds. Therefore, it would have been ruled Bears’ ball around the 1 yard line (the spot where the ball was when he touched out of bounds). How was it so clear? It wasn’t. See for yourself at Youtube here:
For 26 seasons now the Packers have held this edge over the Bears. One way or another, they almost always come out on top, through either great plays on their part, awful plays on the Bears part, or just simply luck. L-U-C-K. Green Bay has it. Chicago does not have it. It’s gotten to be laughable. All you can do is laugh at this misery. The football gods are in on this. I know it. So how does one reverse it? That’s another mystery question for the ages.
LB Nick Kwiatkoski – Kwiatkoski had some decent stats but he didn’t impress me that much. However, in a game like this he deserves a Game Ball. Kwiatkoski filled in admirably for starting ILB Danny Trevathan who sat out with a calf injury. Kwiatkoski made 10 tackles, 9 of which were solos, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 QB hit. Nonetheless, one of the main factors of the Bears defense looking weaker than usual was the absence of Trevathan. They need him moving forward. For a backup, Kwiatkoski played decently but he needs to improve in coverage.
OLB Leonard Floyd – Floyd provided plenty of pressure once again. The problem was the Bears back six or seven weren’t good in coverage on Sunday. If Hundley had less wide open receivers, Floyd may have registered 3, 4, or even 5 sacks. Just watch the highlight tape. Floyd was all over Hundley consistently. Boy, is he fun to watch! This guy has superstar written all over him…..IF the Bears help him out.
WR Dontrelle Inman – In last week’s Preview, I mentioned Inman as our player to “Watch Out For……”. That turned out to be apropos as Inman burst onto the scene with 6 catches for 88 yards on 8 targets from Trubisky. Of course, like any Bears/Packers game, we need to temper our enthusiasm as Inman dropped a catchable ball on a 3rd and 10 on the last possession of the game which could have turned into a game-tying TD drive. Oh well……maybe next week.
QB Mitch Trubisky – The education of Mitchell Trubisky continues. This week in his 5th start, Tru threw for a career high 297 passing yards on 21 of 35 attempts. He reached career highs in all of those categories but strangely didn’t record a rushing attempt for the 1st time in his young career. However, he did get sacked 5 times by Green Bay, so you wonder if there was too much “over-coaching” leading up to this game by Loggains with the attempt to keep him in the pocket. If so, it didn’t work. Of course, maybe we should credit Green Bay with a game plan to keep Trubisky in the pocket. Nah, fuhgetabouttit.
Player of the Game
K Connor Barth – I don’t know about you, but the “Dutch Lion” was worried about each of Barth’s attempts on Sunday. I don’t know if it was more the weather or Barth’s history on longer kicks, or maybe it was just that I wanted the Bears to win so bad this week. Nonetheless, the worries went unfounded as Barth had a big week. He hit all 3 of his field goal attempts as well as his lone PAT. His FG’s were from 45, 44, and 49 yards. Those were all potentially difference making kicks so let’s give Barth some props. He scored 10 of the Bears 16 points on the afternoon.
CB Kyle Fuller – If you watched the game at all on Sunday you could see that Kyle Fuller was not good. He was just plain bad. Hundley picked on him all day. Some of it was bad coverage. Mix in a few missed tackles. Add in some bad luck and you had a day to forget for Fuller. It’s a shame too after he had been playing so well as of late. Moving forward, does DC Vic Fangio consider putting CB Marcus Cooper back in the starting role?
RB Benny Cunningham – Cunningham recorded his 2nd most touches in a game this year. My question is…….why? He carried the ball once for a no gain. He caught 3 passes for 32 yards including the fateful “Microcosm” play. I don’t want to be overly critical of Cunningham, but those screen plays would be excellent plays for rookie Joker Back #29 Tarik Cohen. Why wasn’t Cohen in there for those plays? We can’t blame Cunningham but we can blame Loggains and/or the RB coach Curtis Modkins. In a game in which Cohen received 1 carry and 1 reception, I’m left wondering. Was Cohen hurt? Was Howard hurt? I haven’t heard anything so, I guess I’m a little confused.
“The Football Gods” – When will this Bears drought end? Trust me, as a Bears fan my entire life living near the Wisconsin border, surrounded by friends and family that chose the dark side, it’s getting unBearable. When will the “Football Gods” reward the Chicago Bears and their fans? Enough is enough. To all Packers fans, you had your run. Now get ready because soon it will be over. In this long and illustrious rivalry dating back almost 100 years, this quarter century drought has gone on far too long. I pray to you, the “Football Gods” for a new era to begin.
In the Preview, I wrote:
“I can see the tide a turnin’. Bears roll this Sunday to tie the all-time series.
Chicago Bears 23 Green Bay Packers 10″
RESULT: Green Bay Packers 23 Chicago Bears 16.
- I was wrong. We were all wrong. For what it’s worth, only one writer in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times was correct in predicting a Packers victory. That writer was Rick Morrissey in the Sun-Times. The other 12 of us were wrong.
- Chicago Bears : 3-6
- Dutch Lion : 5-4
Moving on from last week’s disaster against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears (3-6) return to the scene of the crime. This time, a different NFC North rival invades the lakefront, the Detroit Lions (5-4). I’ve gotta believe the old maxim holds true: You’re never as good as you think and you’re never as bad as you think. Let’s analyze this matchup so we can envision what will happen this Sunday.
Bears’ offense vs Lions’ defense
According to the NFL yardage stats, the Bears’ offense is 29th in total offense, 31st in passing, 9th in rushing, and 28th in scoring at 16.7 PPG. Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER) has the Bears rated as the 28th best offense. Chicago has the 5th most giveaways in the league too.
The Lions’ defense is 22nd in total defense, 25th against the pass, 10th against the run, and 21st in scoring defense at 23.3 PPG allowed. AER has the Lions defense rated as the 11th best defense in the NFL. Aikman’s rating has the Lions defense much better than their NFL ranking! I believe it’s largely due to their ability to gain takeaways. Detroit is 2nd in the NFL with 18 takeaways.
Even though the Bears can run the ball, the Lions have a solid rushing defense. Add in the takeaways and the Lions have a clear advantage on this side of the ball. EDGE: Detroit defense
Bears’ defense vs Lions’ offense
Bears’ defense is 9th overall in the NFL yardage rankings, 10th against the pass, 15th against the run, and 13th in points allowed at 21.6 PPG. AER has Chicago’s D at 10th.
Lions’ offense is 15th overall, 8th in passing, 29th in rushing, and 6th in scoring at 27.1 PPG. AER has the Lions as the 17th rated offense. I think Matt Stafford has really improved the last couple of years now that Calvin Johnson is retired. It’s almost as if his security blanket is gone and he had to improve in his overall game in order to succeed. Stafford worked hard and he indeed got better. He’s thrown for 2461 yards with a 63% completion percentage. He has 17 TDs to just 5 INTs. His passer rating is 96.3, which is 10th in the NFL. Stafford is 4th in passing yards and 6th in TD passes. However, Stafford has also been sacked 30 times, 3rd most in the NFL.
This matchup is quite even. Even though Stafford and the Lions are solid, so are the Bears……usually, except for last week against Green Bay. SLIGHT EDGE: Chicago defense
Watch Out For…
The Running Backs – How will the Bears staff utilize the RB’s this week? How many touches will Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, and Benny Cunningham each receive? After only getting two touches last week, I expect Cohen to get plenty more chances this week. Those screen passes should be going to Cohen rather than Cunningham. Howard is good and they need to use him more. Detroit gave up over 200 rushing yards last week to Cleveland so look for Chicago to focus on the running game.
The Dutch Lion (not to be confused with the Detroit Lions) might be nuts but I gotta believe the Bears are better than they showed this past week. In a second consecutive home game against a division rival, I fully expect Chicago to rebound. The Aikman Ratings have the Lions at 15th overall while the Bears are 22nd overall.
- I predict the Bears will have a strong game running the football. Chicago averages over 120 yards rushing yards per game. Detroit gives up about 102 ypg on the ground, but gave up 201 last week to Cleveland. Look for a minimum of 130 yards rushing for Chicago. In fact, I think it’ll be about 150 yards.
- I predict Chicago will sack Stafford at least 3 times, possible even 4 or 5 sacks. Look for #96 Akiem Hicks and #94 Leonard Floyd to have big games.
- Detroit is favored by 3 points as of Thursday’s Chicago Tribune. I’ll go ahead and pick an upset. Like we wrote in our intro, “You’re never as good as you think and you’re never as bad as you think”. Just when you thought the Bears stunk, they’ll probably surprise us with a solid performance. PICK Chicago!
Chicago Bears 16, Detroit Lions 13