Football

 vs

Bears (5-6) at Lions (3-7-1)

Kickoff: 11:30 am

TV: Fox 32

Radio: WBBM 780

 

If this all feels oddly familiar, it is. The Bears and Lions will meet for the second time in three weeks, playing the early Thanksgiving game in Detroit, all for the second straight year of this exact same format.

In 2018, the Bears won a pair of sort of ugly games over Detroit, first with one of Mitchell Trubisky‘s best games of his career with a 23/30, 355, 4 TD (1 rushing) performance in blowout at home. Trubs would pick up a shoulder injury the following week, though, and Chase Daniel would manage the Bears to a slim win on Thanksgiving 2018 with a massive performance (on the field and with celebrations) after some very timely turnovers.

The 2019 version of this possibly never changing schedule quirk is sort of sticking to the script: the Bears win a few weeks ago in Chicago featured A 3 TD performance from Trubisky, albeit without the big yardage and convincing offensive performance. The Lions are in a bit of a different space, though, as they again won’t have Matthew Stafford (and possibly Jeff Driskel) and his broken back. Driskel kept things interesting in Chicago as Stafford missed his first game of what had become a career season prior, and Detroit could be without both on Thanksgiving as Driskel is trying to overcome a hamstring injury.

Enter, uh….David Blough? David Blough. So yea, the Lions head into this one in a pretty bad spot. The thing you have to watch most with Driskel is his ability to extend plays or beat you on the ground by moving around, and even if he starts he mostly likely won’t be able to get out of the pocket. The Bears defense will look to build some confidence against the Lions unsure/struggling offense, hopefully capped off by some new endzone celebrations.

On the offensive side, Mitch and Nagy will hopefully be on the same page for this one and keep adding plays that Mitch is more comfortable with – play-action and bootlegs should be used early and often. Maybe it’ll even open up some holes for David Montgomery and the rushing attack, as they’ll be able to try and sharpen their own shortcomings in run blocking against a Detroit unit ranked 23rd against the run. This will be the second week in a row against a 23rd ranked rush defense, and the Bears helped the Giants to improve two places in a week…so don’t hold your breath on some rampant rushing attack four days later.

This game will be a strong opportunity for the Bears offense to take advantage through the air, something they did pretty well two weeks ago and got a little better last week. If they can take another step and put together a solid plan around the run fake and moving Mitch around, maybe they can start to make you believe. Believe they can get in a rhythm and at least make things hard on Minnesota and Seattle down the stretch – two teams that play each other on Monday Night Football to wrap up the week.

They’ll do so without Taylor Gabriel and Ben Braunecker, but against the 30th ranked pass defense Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller could be in line for huge days. We might even see some Tarik Cohen in the slot or some creative uses of the runnings backs in the passing game.

The opportunity is there for the Bears to give everyone a reason to be thankful, helping to ease us all into the post-meal drunken stupor as we take in the chaos that’s potentially there for Bills-Cowboys. Watching that with a smile instead of a scowl is good enough at this point.

Happy Thanksgiving (drinking), everyone.

Football
Tony: I’m thankful for you, King. You have bestowed upon me the right to not have to talk about the Bears for one more day, and that alone is the gravy on the turkey of my heart.
The Detroit Lions aren’t much more fun to talk about, but they have plenty to be thankful for, primarily the incredibly low bar their fans have for them. I have a friend who is a Lions fan (bless his heart), and when asked to describe the 2019 Lions, he simply said: “Every single aspect of the team has *at best* underperformed except for Matthew Stafford who through 8 games was having a career year… then he broke his back. He tried carrying this team on his back but those sacks of shit were too heavy.”
Shout out to John, who also made music back in the early aughts under the pseudonym Major Applewhite which is probably the best solo act name I’ve ever heard.
As if losing Stafford with broken bones in his back wasn’t enough, apparently Jeff Driskel is also on this week’s injury report. The Lions tried to sign Josh Johnson since he played for them in the preseason (his 13th NFL team!), and were blocked by the XFL.
Once more for emphasis: VINCE MCMAHON IS SCREWING THE DETROIT LIONS. Bret Hart must work for them or something. That’s so fucking sad I’m just gonna stop talking about it.
As it goes, I’d like to compare the Lions to a side dish that you’ll be munching on while digesting terrible football on Thursday: Green Bean Casserole. I fuck with casserole, and I think GBC is a prime one. I’ve seen a lot of people on my social media feeds ripping on GBC, and I gotta say: fuck them.
Cream of mushroom soup- decent (the Lions run defense, in theory)
Green Beans- decent (Darius Slay)
French Fried Onions- dope (your Matthews Stafford)
The Green Bean Casserole is literally more than the sum of it’s parts, a hodgepodge of shit thrown together that tastes amazing.
Fun fact: Green Bean Casserole was invented by Campbell’s in 1955.
Additional fun fact: the last Lions NFL Championship was in 1957.
One of those things sucks, and the other doesn’t.
Wes: Tony, You’re the real King for coming up with and reminding me to do these tandem matchup posts all season. I’m thankful for our weekly banter in this lost shit storm of a Bears season.
The fans around Chicago aren’t thankful for much regarding their football team, but the Bears themselves are thankful for individual stand outs and a very convoluted and confusing path to the postseason, but still a path nonetheless. Take a trip with me on that path, will you?
  • Bears win out, finishing the season with six straight victories for a 10-6 record
  • Rams, Eagles and Panthers all finish 9-7 or worse
  • Packers win the NFC North
  • Minnesota loses at least three of their remaining games, finishing 10-6 and losing the tie-breaker to the Bears on H2H wins OR Seattle loses their final five games and finishes 9-7
Phew, that’s a lot. There’s actually a way the Bears could get in at 9-7, but there are so many more specific weekly win/lose arrangements in that scenario that you’re all going to be thankful for me NOT sharing it. Just know it’s all moot if the Bears can’t string together the wins on their own, and that starts with a big statement road win in Detroilet on American turkey booze day.
The Bears also need to be thankful for a handful of stand out performers on this underachieving nightmare squad. Allen Robinson is top five at the WR position but most casual fans would probably fight you on that because he’s stuck in a poorly run offense with a struggling young QB. I shudder to consider what this all might look like without ARob in 2019.  Khalil Mack may have been absent from the stat sheet coinciding with the losing streak, but without his first few games and performance against the Giants last week (all without his pal Akiem Hicks) we’re probably talking about silver linings instead of faint playoff hopes.
Role players like Nick Kwiatkoski, Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen (who should probably be more than a “role player”…) have helped in a big way via Special Teams, plugged holes and played the next man up role perfectly to keep things from going horrible to catastrophic. So thanks to underappreciated few.
To me, the Bears individual standouts combined with the rest of team most closely resemble Thanksgiving Stuffing (or dressing if you wanna be a weirdo about it). Stuffing always, ALWAYS, has great components within. Bread? Sausage? Celery? Sage? That’ll do it. But no two Stuffing recipes are alike, and sometimes you get dried fruit in there. Or random vegetables. Or your aunt goes wild on the seasoning. Or your lazy ass uncle bought bags of croutons that are salty as hell. Some jerks even refuse to cook at least a portion INSIDE the bird. Idiots.
The 2019 Bears are Stuffing, because for every tantalizing ingredient like Arob and Mack, there’s too much salt or someone over thought it and added raisins and cranberries and three kinds of mushrooms without considering to just build a solid base first.
Here’s to hoping your Stuffing this year goes back to basics and just makes sure it’s a delicious, not looking to do more than it needs to. I can only assume Matt Nagy’s Stuffing takes 10 hours to prep and includes no less than 70 different ingredients.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
Football

Welcome to the new weekly look at what’s happening with Chicago’s immediate rivals, and a look around the league of the who’s who of everyone’s favorite brutal shitshow of a vice, the NFL.

Minnesota runs roughshod through Atlanta

The Vikings and Dalvin Cook ran wild out of the starting gate in 2019, posting 172 rushing yards en route to a comfortable 28-12 home victory. Cook was the star early, breaking off big chunks of yardage seemingly at will. He’d finish with 111 yards on 21 carries with two TDs. The Vikings defense was as good as Cook, blocking a punt on the first series of the game and frustrating the Falcons all day long. Four sacks, three turnovers and a shutout through three quarters gave this game a very efficiently boring feel, just what you want out of your team’s D.

This game was so well out of reach early that Kirk Cousins had a great, quiet day: 8/10, 97 yards, one passing TD, one rushing. He did fumble the ball twice and was lucky to keep both, but all in all a capable performance that won’t sound any alarms. The biggest takeaways are this defense is looking very strong, and if the offensive line and Cook/rushing attack can follow this blueprint most weeks Minnesota will be a very tough out all season. Now, if a team can stymie the run and make Cousins beat them….

Looking Ahead: 9/15 @ GB – Lambeau and the great equalizer Aaron Rodgers await. The GB Defense looked equally impressive against an odd Bears offense, so the matchup to watch is that front 7 vs Cook.

Detroit plays not to lose in the desert, somehow does worse than a loss

Matt Patricia was supposed to sort out Detroit as a defensively stout team, at the very least. They were gifted the first start of the Kyler Murray era in a road test to start the 2019 season, and for 3.5 quarters they looked pretty damn stout, ahead 24-6. Then, they somehow allowed the rookie Murray to DOUBLE his stat line in the 4th quarter alone. He went 15/19, 154 yds and 2 TDs, including the game tying toss to Larry Fitzgerald and two-pointer to Christian Kirk with 43 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 24.

Detroit was having their way for the most part on offense, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Matthew Stafford is locked in with rookie TE T.J. Hockenson, who opened his career with 6-131-1 stat line. Stafford put up 385 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs, but a middling rushing attack (32 carries/111 yards) made things difficult late once they tried to burn up the clock. The defensive implosion and then lackluster OT have to be giving this team some concerns given their opponent. Credit to Murray/Kliff Kingsbury for the comeback, but that doesn’t happen without some help. Detroit has plenty to work on after a pretty positive first few hours to their season.

Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs LAC – The Lions head home in Week 2 and face a true test in the Chargers. They boast some exciting pieces on both sides of the ball, even without holdout RB Melvin Gordon. The same mental mistakes that lost a sure win in Week 1 could be a full on disaster against this much tougher opponent.

Packers do enough to hold off inept Bears

Many a word has been typed about this Chicago debacle, so I’ll spare you more of the same. The Packers defense looks very legit, and Mike Pettine is the mastermind there. Matt Nagy and his offense were not ready for the game plan in front of them, and with opportunity after opportunity handed to the Bears, Pettine’s group was there to stop them.

Green Bay did not look very strong on offense outside of a single drive, which was boosted by a wild deep ball and jump ball TD catch. Chicago’s defensive unit looked as advertised and while that’s not an easy puzzle to solve, Matt LaFleur has his work cut out to make changes ahead of another difficult matchup this coming weekend at home.

Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs MIN – LaFleur coaches his first game at home, but the task doesn’t get any easier against a Minnesota team that looked finely tuned in an easy Week 1 win. Let’s see if Pettine can keep the Pack in it late two weeks straight.

Around the NFC…

The LA Rams and Carolina Panthers played what might be a a very early preview of NFC Division winners, with the Rams leading the whole way and holding on late…New Orleans, looking to hold Carolina off, played a thriller of their own on MNF, coming from behind a few times to beat Houston at home on a walk-off Will Lutz 58-yard FG. The Saints get the NFC defending Champion Rams in Week 2…Carson Wentz and the Eagles looked awful for a quarter or so in Washington before seemingly scoring off deep pass plays at will…Not to be outdone, Dak Prescott found himself and the Cowboys down early at home to the lowly Giants before storming to a commanding 35-17 win that saw him account for four TDs.