Bears

Mullin: Forte playing best football of his pro career

Mullin: Forte playing best football of his pro career

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Posted: 1:50 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Another good Thursday visit at 10 a.m. with Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel on "The Danny Mac Show" on WSCR-AM 670, with a tough quick ending question:

Who is the best team in the NFL right now?

My quick take was the New England Patriots, even with their recent loss to Cleveland. Why? Because there is no team in the NFL right now that I would like to face less than the Patriots, which is what the Bears will do after their visit to Detroit.

Mac and Spiegs weren't buying New England, partly because of the defensive situation that Mac pointed out. Their flavor of the week (given the way the NFL has bounced this year, probably a reasonable way to think) is San Diego and in no small measure because of what the Chargers did to Indianapolis.

I'll pass. I have never seen Philip Rivers as a big-game quarterback, whether for reasons of temperament or raw ability, and if there is a team more capable than the Chargers of spitting the bit at the finish line, I'm not seeing it.

San Diego is streaking right now, winning four straight. Great. San Diego always streaks sometime. New England has quietly won three straight, including wins over Indianapolis and by double-digits at Pittsburgh. Oh, and the Patriots went out to San Diego and beat the Chargers, the last time San Diego lost.

Given the number of games that come down to quarterbacking, I take Tom Brady over Rivers any and every time.

Closer to home, the guys were talking about the 2010 version of Matt Forte and I think we're all on board with the thinking that this is unquestionably the best Forte has played as a pro. Spiegs made a point of how patient Forte has been this year with sweeps and how that suggests some strong confidence in his offensive line. Spot on: Forte has been able to get squared with the ball without facing penetrating D-linemen or linebackers before the point of attack and that traces, as good running invariably does, to his front five.

And it traces to Mike Martz, an offensive coordinator who has taken stock of what he has, allowed that talent (including Jay Cutler) to do what it does best, and the results were almost predictable.

Mac questioned how many more wins I reasonably foresaw for this team, particularly since my preseason call on the Bears was 10-6 or better. They're 8-3 right now and some quick projection math here:

They will win three more. The Bears will beat Detroit, either New England or the New York Jets, and either the Vikings or Green Bay Packers. That'll pop to 11-5 and a place in the playoffs.

We'll see. And we'll visit again next Thursday, same time, same station.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.