With how good the Chicago defense has been this season, what can we
expect from the Bears in the playoffs?
This team has great play-makers at every level of the defense. The
Chicago D is currently rated 3rd in points allowed, 2nd in yards
gained/pass attempt, 1st in passing ints, with 27 pilfers at the time
of this article, 1st in rushing TDs allowed with just 5 on the ground,
and are playing with a defensive 3rd down conversion percentage of 35%
– there is no team that lines up vs the Bears and is thrilled. In 8
regular season games, the Bears have given up just an average of 17.5
points/game at home and only 19 ppg on the road. If the Bears are to
make a big-time run in the playoffs – opposing teams might be fortunate
to reach those numbers, their smothering defense is something that
travels well, and a lot of fun to watch. They have been so successful
by keeping everything in front of them, and not allowing many big
plays. They give some really difficult looks, and some exceptional
blitzes, where they have forced bad throws and created havoc.
Pro Bowler DB, Kyle Fuller and 27 year old Khalil Mack get the bears
share of the attention, and deservedly so. But there’s even more to
that nasty Chicago defense than that. 340lb Akiem Hicks has gone from
just a pass rushing specialist to complete player, and the 7 year vet
has absorbed his role as more of a DT, as a run stopper, QB crusher,
and disruptor, and has made huge plays over the 2018 season. Roquan
Smith or Mack typically stuff any screen on the right side, and Hicks
shuts it down on the left side. And if a back gets around him, they’ve
got Danny Trevathan or Leonard Floyd waiting to greet them 3 yards
out. Mack epitomizes the term “collision sport” with 12.5 sacks and 18
QB hits – he has been the centerpiece for the top ended ranked D all
The Monsters of the Midway have a very stout, and also very fast D
line. It’s a tough situation for any team to deal with only 4 games
giving up 100 or more running yards. So they force you to throw the
ball, where they stalk the field like starving wolves with 2 guys with
6 or more picks. Fuller is the magical “shutdown” corner, and QBs
struggle oftentimes to get a pass get completed against him. Same goes
for the active handed Eddie Jackson and Prince Amukamara. The deadly
CBs are playing on the receiver’s hip, especially Fuller. QB’s
obviously hate dealing with that mess – so they then try throwing deep
on them, but the problem with that game-plan has been that Jackson
doesn’t get fooled much – and he isn’t all that grabby, either. Which
doesn’t leave a whole bunch of options for down field passing, so
teams need to throw the short routes and screens
Chicago have been playing the “team defense” of containing the QB and
stopping the run brilliantly . Creating turnovers like they do, is a
huge game changer for Chicago – if they keep it up and get into the
playoffs. If the Chicago defense keeps forcing turnovers, they way
they have been during the postseason – then that makes anyone they
play, play disorganized. They know they simply cannot make mistakes.
As this defense is set up to crush teams up both in the passing and
The Bears defense plays with a genuine level of grit I haven’t seen in
a team in quite awhile. They don’t fold, the defense tightens up when
it matters, as shown when they played the Rams, who were shaking up
the NFL with a 32ppg scoring avg – but then they held Todd Gurley to a
measly 28 yards on the ground, picked off highly rated, Jared Goff 4
times, and beat the explosive Rams,15-6. The interesting thing to me
is, though a great defense should be able to allow the offense to take
more chances, knowing the defense can cover for them, if there is a
bad play. Chicago Head Coach, Matt Nagy, needs to open up the offense
a bit more, as the Bears defense plays even better with the lead.
But, for the Chicago to win the championship – their running offense
is going to have to put up some better numbers to keep the team on the
field longer, and their RB1, Jordan Howard getting just 3.6/carry.
They cannot just keep picking up 1 yard lunges and always hope that
their defense will shut down their opponent.
If they can keep teams off the field, with 22 or less 1st downs – they
stand a very good chance of winning, if not, it could be tough, when
they give up 23 or more they have been 2-3. They don’t want to tire
out their D, just let it do what it does, get the RBs more work on the
outside, and let Mitchell Trubisky sling the ball down the field more,
let him get Allen Robinson more involved down the field.
That’s usually what the later rounds are lauded for.
Chicago will find out soon enough.
The coming week in the world of sports will involve some college football and college basketball, while the NFL still commands center stage on the larger scene.
NCAA Basketball: Duke Blue Devils vs. UCLA Bruins (In New York – Thursday)
This is a game in Madison Square Garden, and it’s one in which UCLA will be asked to prove itself. The Bruins, under new head coach Steve Alford, are trying to regain the aura and consistency they possessed from 2006 through 2008, when they made three straight Final Fours. UCLA will have its hands full with one of the more athletic Duke teams Mike Krzyzewski has fielded in quite some time. The Blue Devils play an above-the-rim game, and UCLA will have to be very active on defense in the paint if it wants to contain Duke’s offense. NCAA Football: New Orleans Bowl Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Tulane Green Wave
This is an all-Louisiana affair, played in Tulane’s home stadium. There should be a big crowd in the Superdome for this game, which involves two teams that, a few years ago, had no momentum at all. Now, ULL is making its third straight bowl appearance, while Tulane is making its first appearance since 2002. This will be a special game for every player involved, especially on the Tulane side. Players will need to channel their emotions and not get caught up in the moment.
NFL Football: Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles
This is one of the more attractive games of the week in the NFL. The Eagles hope that Dallas loses to Washington. If that happens, Philadelphia could clinch the NFC East with a win here. Chicago is involved in a three-team race with Detroit and Green Bay in the NFC North. The Bears would suffer a huge blow if they lost here.