Every NFL season has it’s ups and downs. One month you’re a world beater and headed to the Super Bowl, once those other pesky ten games get out of the way. A month later you’re a team in search of a few answers on how to right the ship. Or in the case of the Chicago Bears, the mantra is to prove last year’s run to the NFC Championship wasn’t a fluke and they were / are worthy of primetime coverage. Last Sunday the Bears crossed the pond and held off an up and coming Tampa Bay team 24-18, for their 3rd win in 4 weeks.
Look no further than RB Matt Forte for their resurgence. Do you realize that in four weeks he’s run for 553 and 2 TDs and catapulted himself into one of the NFL’s rushing leaders with 672 yards?? He ranks third in rushing and with the Bears schedule becoming easier after this week’s bye, he could run the Bears right back into the playoff chase.http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/chi/2011.htm Has there been a running back this year who has played better than Forte?? we don’t think so. He also leads the team in receptions (39) and receiving yards (419) and if he keeps going may be up for NFL MVP consideration as well.
What is shocking is the Bears defense being ranked 24th in all of pro football. This week saw the Bears wave goodbye to S Chris Harris who started against the Bucs over at Wembley. Against the run they are a respectable 13th yet their pass defense has been awful of late ranking 27th. What is puzzling is the fact that the Bears are rushing the passer well. Led by Julius Peppers (4 sacks) there are at least four Bears with 3 sacks or more in just seven games. Lance Briggs was just named NFC Defensive Player of the Week and has 55 tackles. Urlacher is right behind him with 39 tackles and 3 interceptions. With all this pressure and solid linebacker play, what is going on in the secondary?? The play at nickleback and safety needs to be shored up. They have a bye week and then they face Philadelphia and the Michael Vick Experience. With so much attention on the World Champion Packers and the resurgent Lions, most experts don’t see this Bear team who quietly sits within striking distance of the division leaders.
|Green Bay||7||0||0||1.000||3-0-0||4-0-0||2-0-0||6-0-0||230||141||+89||Won 7|
A little wind has been swept from the sails of the Detroit Lions amidst back to back losses to San Francisco and Atlanta until you realize 6 of the 7 teams they have played are .500 and above. The Falcons have won their division 2 of the last 3 years and fighting to keep pace with the Saints and Bucs (whom the Lions beat already). Their other loss came was against the NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers. Each can be attributed to facing Pro Bowl caliber running backs in Frank Gore (141 yds /1TD) two weeks ago and Michael Turner (122 yds) who ran effectively against them. In fact the Lions are 28th against the run and has only held 1 team under 100 yards rushing this season. http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?archive=false&conference=null&role=OPP&offensiveStatisticCategory=null&defensiveStatisticCategory=RUSHING&season=2011&seasonType=REG&tabSeq=2&qualified=true&Submit=Go
While the Lions have been a scoring machine the first 5 games they have been somewhat slowed in the last two. The missing punch out of the backfield in Mikel Leshoure, on injured reserve, is slowing this team down. Jahvid Best is filling the void as best he can but is a limited runner on 3rd and short. However the maturation of soon to be Pro Bowl quarterback Matthew Stafford (1,912 yards /16TDs & 4 int.) is right on schedule.https://taylorblitztimes.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/2011-detroit-lions-preview/ Calvin “Megatron” Johnson’s touchdowns have slowed a bit (8 in 4 games v. 2 in last 3 games) yet he topped 100 yards receiving in each defeat. They just have to get past Denver and recharge their batteries in the following bye week. To us, these games seemed to be growing pains for a young team yet they should be concerned about their run defense. Especially in a rematch with the Bears with Matt Forte’s recent rushing performance.
Sailing along are the World Champion Packers whose offense is one of the best in all of football. Aaron Rodgers is moving well in the pocket and distributing the football without taking sacks or hits like he did last season. Concerns about his concussion situation seems a thing of the past. The Packers are passing at will on opponents who can’t generate enough heat to get to Rodgers. How affective are the champs with the ball? Well their offense is ranked #3 overall with Rodgers unbelievable statistics. Rodgers has completed 71.5% of his passes for 2,372 yards, 20TDs to only 3 interceptions. Yikes!! It’s as though he’s playing Madden Football on rookie. Do you realize he’s on pace to throw for 5,421 yards with 45 TDs. That would destroy Dan Marino’s single season yardage mark if maintained and just off pace to break Brady’s all time touchdown record. Lethal.
Lets ask a question: What happened to this defense?? Green Bay has been giving up candy on defense this year to the tune of 391 yards per game. Where last year the team was galvanized and held together by the leagues’s #2 ranked defense, this year’s edition is ranked 27th. Without a significant injury to the starting 11, you’d have to say it’s a terrible performance. In 7 games they have only held one team to 10 or less. They even gave up 27 points to an inept rival Viking team last week.
Eventually offensive juggernauts fall to a superior defense in postseason play. The Packers are walking a tightrope. They want to finish like last year’s team with a Super Bowl victory yet are playing defense like their 2009 edition that was knocked out in the wildcard round. It would be best for this team to get to some Oklahoma drills this off week. Their title defense will come down to their defense in the end and they definitely have to play better.
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Bears are primed to make another run into the playoffs. They currently actually hold the last wildcard spot so their destiny is in their own hands. Another reboot on the offensive play calling and formations has given time for Cutler to look downfield instead of a soft place to land. Safety is a BIG problem right now with Meriweather disappointing and Chris Harris complaining when he should have shut his mouth and concerned himself with getting healthy. He knows how it is and could have had the job at any time by default. Consequently they have given up WAY too many big passes. While the stats look Ok, the pass rush has been inconsistent and seems to be especially lacking when needed the most. Hopefully with the off week, Peppers can rest up some dings that have been nagging him and be the force once again. Urlacher is out of his mind and must be drinking from the youth tonic glass of Ray Lewis. Special teams is still special and Forte is now afforded the occaisional blow with Marion Barber providing solid back up, unlike last year with the assinine signing of ‘I just want to Cash my Checkster Taylor’.
GB has been unbelievable on offense and maybe that has made the defense a little lazy which just assumes Rodgers will bail them out when needed.
Detroit is who I thought they were and I look for them to continue to slide as teams are more prepared for them and I am still waiting for Stafford to go down for a few weeks. Again.
At least Minn. can now be known for something, like the most expensive sideline cheerleader in football, now that Tebow is playing, and that Ponder looks pretty cool and collected dishing out the ball. They may have finally found their very own guy instead of the many retreads they try.
So the roller coaster keeps going up and down, with GB the world beaters but Da Bears putting it together on the fly (as usual) but seem to be more prepared than most since they have the most talented coaching staff in football. So watch out! We’re coming and we got a bad attitude from last years season ending debacle.