The Bears won again on Sunday by beating the Lions 34-22, pushing their winning streak to three games. It was an overall dominating performance against a divisional rival. Mitch Trubisky looked terrific as he had a career day, throwing three touchdowns and running one in on his own. Allen Robinson was a big factor in his return after missing two games, he had 133 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Anthony Miller is becoming a real threat in the passing game, with his first 100-yard receiving day. The defense, with the help of a healthy Khalil Mack(!!!), who had two sacks, was as dominate as ever. They sacked Matt Stafford six times, he was never comfortable in the pocket. The ball hawking defense picked him off twice. I highlighted Roquan Smith last week as a defensive rookie of the year candidate, he lead the team in tackles again with 10, including his third sack of the season.
The lone negative of the day is Cody Parkey and his love for the upright. He missed two extra point attempt and two field goal attempts, all of which hit the upright with a resounding thud, which left 8 points on the table. Luckily, his teammates picked him up and those misses became a non-issue, this time. He will need to do something to avoid a performance like that from happening again. For those wondering, Coach Matt Nagy said there is “zero chance” of a change at kicker, so get behind the guy we got.
I think there is a sense of intimidation setting in with this team. Soldier Field is an attraction again, after a few years with a dip in attendance figures, it is rocking once again. Nobody is going to want to come to Chicago and face this team with these fans behind them. Not to mention the defense is top five in nearly every category, leading the league in interceptions, fifth in sacks, sixth in forced fumbles, second in rush yards per game and they are giving up an average of 19 points per game. The offense is no slouch either, they seem to have found their identity. They’ve put up 41 and 34 points in their last two games, even without much production from the running game. This passing attack is becoming what Coach Nagy has warned us it could be. The ball is being spread all over the field, Trubisky targeted seven different receivers versus the Lions. The opportunities for those big splash plays are there. The Bears are ranked fourth in passes completed over 25 yards, with 24 such completions. Passing the ball deep down the field isn’t about just flinging it up there and hoping your guy comes down with it. These are chances that are created by fooling the defense into a short pass coverage and the receiver being able to break free down the field. This Bears offense is tricking defenses. It is hard to defend when you don’t know what you’re defending.
Last week I talked about this important stretch of football. One down, two to go. Next week the Minnesota Vikings come into Soldier Field. This game has been “flexed” into the coveted Sunday Night Football 7:20pm time slot. This game is probably the biggest game most of these players have played in at this level. The Bears currently hold the top spot in the NFC North, with a 6-3 record, and the Vikings are right behind them at 5-3-1. A win puts the Bears into the driver’s seat as we head down the stretch, but a loss means the Bears fall into second and are playing catchup. Last week my promise of a “black and blue” matchup failed to come to fruition as the Bears took control early, but the Vikings are a much better team and with so much on the line I expect this one to get intense. These two defenses are very good and match up very well on paper, but they aren’t playing each other on the field. The Bears defense has a huge advantage when it comes to the Vikings rushing offense. The home/road splits are eye opening, the Vikings have gained nearly 36 yards less per game on the road, and the splits are even greater when comparing wins and losses. The key to this game for the Bears will be to stuff the run and force the Vikings into a one-dimensional team. One thing worth mentioning is that while Kirk Cousins does not throw many interceptions the team is prone to fumbling the ball. The Bears are going to have to force some turnovers to gain an advantage in this game. As previously mentioned, this Vikings defense is very strong. This will be a big test for Nagy and Trubisky to see if their offense can pick apart a top-level defense. They’ve looked as of late, but so have the Vikings. The Bears will need to play well in all four quarters to win this one. This is going to be the defining game of the season. The Bears are done being the bottom feeders of this division. They are going to make a statement on national television and silence all the doubters. The better team is going to win this game, and that team is our Chicago Bears.
Bears 36, Vikings 23