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Sunday, July 21

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Bears in Five - Prowling for Panthers
by Craig Aichele, Ramsin Canon and friends

The wild card weekend means we're due for lots fo half-assed analysis, office betting pools, broken dreams, and obscene amounts of added gambling debts for at least one members of the Noble Street Headquarters. The Bears had a bye for the first round, so let's take a look around the rest of the playoffs and the Bears opponent, the Carolina Somebodies.

One. Eww, Gross.
On their sefcond offensive play, Bengals franchise quarterback Carson Palmer got rolled up on by Steelers defensive tackles Kemo Von Oelhoffen, making his leg bend at a sickening angle, to the side, tearing his MCL and ACL. It was one of the grossest injuries we've seen since Marc Colombo's knee injury at St. Louis a few years ago. The loss of Palmer was devastating for the Bengals, after an MVP performance this season. The poor Bungles — nothing ever goes their way. Also, it was really, really, gross.

Two. Bears D-Line > Panthers D-Line
Although the Panthers obliterated the Giants, shutting them out at home, there's no reason to start getting jittery. The Panthers' defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and forced the G-Men to take to the air, which in turn forced Eli Manning to make basic throwing errors. Sound familiar? It's exactly what the Bears gameplan was against the Panthers a few months back. The difference, of course, is that the Bears O-Line can deal with the bull rush that stops the rush. Also, our D-Line is better than theirs qualitatively. It's going to come down to the type of rushing schemes defensive coordinator Ron "Chico" Rivera can come up with — they need to show them something different than they threw at them in the regular season. The Panthers are going to try to score a repeat performance for starting running back DeShaun Foster, who romped the Giants for over 150 yards — the Bears should concentrate on their own bull rush to stop the run and not focus too much on getting to DelHomme until later in the game. If they sell out too much going after the quarterback earlier, Foster will break some big runs early on.

Three. It's the Time of the Season for Lovie-ing
As we predicted, Lovie Smith was named Coach of the Year honors fo this amazing turnaround of a franchise that all the experts predicted to finish in the cellar. But not only did Lovie win, Brian Urlacher took home Defensive Player of the Year honors, with three other Bears — Nate Vasher, Alex Brown and Lance Briggs — garnering votes as well. Awards season will be so much sweeter when it's followed by a Super Bowl victory. Of course, the last Bears coach to win a Coach of the Year award was Dick Jauron — so let's not rely on precedent on this one.

Four. Shawn Taylor: Hero or Idiot
Washington Redskins safety Shawn Taylor was a mixed bag of emotions for football fans this past weekend. On one hand, he scored a touchdown that turned out to be the difference in the game for his team's victory over Tampa Bay. On the other hand, he spit in the face of an opposing player. He has since been fined for that action, his game check of $17,000. So help us decide: is a hero or an idiot? It will be discussed all over the sports world for the next week: was he fined enough? Too much? Should he be suspended? This season or next season? Here's what it comes down to: spitting in another man's face is one of the most reprehensible acts you can commit, especially on the field of play. If he did indeed do it, he should miss at least one game this postseason.

Five. What About the Offense?
Very odd. No one on the Bears offense won a postseason award. Oh that's right, they were terrible during the season, except for Thomas Jones. We'll need more than just him to beat the Panthers. Rex, buddy, lead us to the promised land. Just plant your feet and the football fly. Grossman is at his best when he's flinging the ball downfield from the pocket, his feet planted. If the offensive line can give him enough time to take a couple shots downfield, the running game is going to open up considerably. What we need to be worried about is when he tries to force the ball into tight pockets in the linebackers' area five to ten yards past the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback as young as he is, he's shown some flair for it, but he isn't at the Favre-esque point yet, and he could get the offense into some trouble by trying to do too much early and allowing the Bears to fall behind by giving the Panthers good field position. If the Bears' big uglies on the line of scrimmage succeed in giving Rex a few good looks at well-run patterns downfield, the Bears inexorable march to the House will proceed.

For more on the Bears, football, and general hilarity, check out the latest Bearscast podcast from, part of the Chicago Sportscast Network. Ramsin Canon and Craig Aichele are co-hosts of Bearscast, along with special guests from the Noble Street Headquarters.


Bulls in Five
by Jason Maslanka

...remains on hiatus.

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About the Author(s)

Craig Aichele, Ramsin Canon and friends are not really friends but rather fierce competitors on the fantasy gridiron. They meet weekly to embarass each other with random football trivia at the Noble Street League HQ. This is where they write their column. Craig knows where every professional athlete went to college, and in some cases the names of their roommates. Creepy. Send comments to

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