Saw this one coming
The Bears have been pretty iffy these last few weeks, ever since that Pittsburgh game when they got destroyed, and it appears to me that both the fan base and the team have been whistling past graveyards ever since.
Their defense, in particular, has lost its sheen. It may be highly ranked statistically, but there are still glaring holes. Tackling is often poor. Cornerback play – especially Charles Tillman – is spotty. The defense in general is young and inexperienced, and as a result is often guilty of over-pursuit, which is easy for some offenses exploit. The secondary needs more depth – when Mike Brown went down with his injured calf and missed the last 4 games of the regular season, they took a serious hit in the ability to defend not just the pass, but the run as well. I.e., if the scheme depends on him that much, your gjuy on the bench has to be nearly as good as your starter.
The offense is what it is: great offensive line, good running backs, marginal receivers, marginal quarterback. It relies on the rest of the team in order to win games: on the defense to hold the opposition to 14 or less and to force turnovers, and on special teams to win the field position battle. The only requirements for the offense are two: hold on to the football, and establish a running game. Both of these serve the purpose of limiting the number of possessions and the time of possession for the other team. This they did for most of the season, the last 12 games or so, but did not do in yesterday’s loss. The running game seemed nearly non-existent in the first half.
Special teams play was mostly very good, and earlier in the season sometimes led directly to points on the scoreboard. They lost that advantage as the year went on, for some reason.
But none of that matters now. Some teams are still playing, and they do matter, and so this weekend, Pittsburgh is at Denver for the AFC Championship, and Carolina visits Seattle for the NFC crown. For my money, until somebody shows they can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are my choice for Super Bowl champ.