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Bears Fri Jan 14 2011
Seahawks at Bears
I have no idea what to expect. Honestly. For all of the bashing I love to dole out on the Bears, this team has evolved and improved, but so have the Seahawks. Both teams are incredibly fluky [Insight! -Ed.] So let's explore and try to figure this out. Onward.
The Seahawk defense has been abysmal. Entirely refelective of a team that finished the regular season at 7-9. Sacrificing an ungodly 25.4 ppg, just comical. The next nearest team (still in the 'Offs) in points per? the mighty New England Patriots are giving up 19.6 and dropping an "OK" 32 points + per game on offense. Yet, the Seahawks did manage to flummox the Bears back in October. They sacked Cutler six times and Mike Martz was going through his experimental, moody artist phase; his Metal Machine Music period if you will. Martz, if you'll recall, called a total of 14 running plays. Matt Forte --you know, the entirely adequate Chicago running back-- touched the ball a total of 11 times.
The good news? Martz has seemingly evolved as an artist, err, offensive coordinator and is now incorporating Forte and Chester Taylor in effective and consistent roles. The bad news? The Bears offense has still very much been on-off, on-off, on-off in the second half of the season. Entirely feast or famine. Will the Petulant One, the pouting, child-like second stringer, show up or will it be Cutler-Bot 5000, the catapulting destroyer of secondaries?
More concerning than Cutler's mood and temper, could be the vulnerability of Chicago's secondary against a resurgent Seattle aerial attack. Coelacanth/starting quarterback Matt Hasslebeck is having a renaissance this season (when healthy enough to play). He picked apart the Bears back in October with the help of Mike Williams, the heretofore draft bust out of USC. Williams has since gone on to emerge as the 'Hawks most consistent receiving threat. Dude, in 14 games, racked up 751 yards, 2 tuddies, 40 first downs, et cetera. He's also a legitimate nightmare for the Bears undersized secondary. Williams at 6-5 is certainly tall enough to "out-up" anyone in a jumpball situation and he's got the chassis and muscle to simply overpower anyone lining up against him. Peanut Tillman was, following their first match in October, treated in the ICU at Rush for third-degree burns over most of his body after Williams scorched him for 123 yards on 10 receptions.
How can the Bears prevent this? Well, they got NO pressure on Matt Hasslebeck back in October. Handing him 0 sacks, a gold watch because they thought he was retiring after the game (he's old, you see), ample time to pass the ball wherever he wanted to, you get the idea. If the Bears defensive line (I mean Julius Peppers) can crack the o-line, wreak havoc, pressure the Coelacanth into making some mistakes? Bears win. Easily. When opposing offensive lines are preoccupied with stopping Peppers, very good things happen for the remaining d-line guys who are good/smart enough to smell blood and find the quarterback. If that doesn't happen but Cutler-Bot 5000 decides to show up? Shootout! If that doesn't happen and the Petulant One shows up? Doom. Mass suicides at Soldier Field. Cyanide-laced pitchers of blue and orange Kool-aid, some spilled, some standing, amongst the throngs of dead Bears fans. The spirit of Jonestown shall live once again.
Kickoff is noon on FOX 32. Forecast is for cloudy and a high of 22. Bundle up!
The Bears Won/I Didn't Kill Myself After the Loss, What Else Is On?
Amazing football games, that's what's on. The divisional playoffs may be my favorite weekend of the year. All four games are rematches of regular season games. With Baltimore-Pittsburgh and NY Jets-New England each colliding for the third time this year.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh is the first game on Saturday, 3:30 CST on CBS. Classic divisional bloodbath is expected. Teams split the regular season, with each team winning on other team's home field. Both games were decided by three points. Neither team passed the 20-point threshold in either game. Baltimore looked rather primed last week and I actually have $20 riding on this game at the MGM Grand sports pit. So the Ravens had better win ...
Green Bay @ Atlanta I know, I know, I know, the Falcons never ever lose at home. But they nearly lost to Aaron Rodgers and the duct-taped/half-stitched corpse of a running back the Packers fielded in the Dirty South back in November. Rodgers singlehandedly kept this game close. The 7 p.m. CST Saturday game on Fox is going to probably not be decided by a field goal in the waning seconds, but I do picture this being an exceptional match. If anyone is betting against the Packers after they handcuffed the Philly offense to a bed and battered it with a lead pipe called Clay Matthews last weekend (in Philly, mind you), well, you're not smart. Still the Falcons are very good. I'm siding with the Packers because they're the underdog and only dicks root for the favorites, all things being equal.
New York Jets @ New England Juggernaut bashes the Jets. I don't see this ending very well for the Jets. I pity them having taken down Peyton Manning a week earlier and then having to face New England. Tom Brady, after having fallen 28-14 in Week 2 at the New Meadowlands, has transformed into his predictable Javier Bardem as Anton Chigur in "No Country For Old Men." The Pats dropped a 42-point thrashing a scant five weeks ago in Foxboro and, well, Mark Sanchez doesn't impress me. At. All. Patriots win in a walk. And no, @Jim_Reedy, this is not a psych-out. (Game is on CBS, 3:30 CST)