Welcome into First and Final Thoughts, one of our weekly columns with a title that's a little too on the nose. Here we'll have Insider J.J Stankevitz and Producers Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan give some insight into what's on their minds between games.
Final Thoughts on Week 11
Paul Aspan: “Who do you block?” That was Akiem Hicks’ response when asked about the Bears defensive dominance against the Vikings. Khalil Mack & Eddie Jackson continued to add to the Bears NFL-leading 27 takeaways, but it was Hicks who (continued to) set the tone from the very first drive by blowing up a 3rd and inches and forcing the Vikings into a 3 and out.
The Bears put everyone on notice on the national stage that yes, they are for real and in control of the NFC North, in a 25-20 win that wasn’t even that close.
Monday & Tuesday did bring an unwelcome surprise with the news that Mitchell Trubisky’s status is in doubt for Thursday’s short turnaround against the Lions. Anytime the franchise QB lands on the injury report is unnerving but the good news is that Matt Nagy is at least saying it’s not a long term concern. So even if Mitch misses Thursday, he’ll have 10 more days to rest up for the final month.
Cam Ellis: Based in tiny part to his incredible play but mostly due to this hilarious mic'd up video, this seems like the time and the place to give Akeim Hicks his due. If the Patriots hadn't spent the last 20 years getting rid of their best defensive talent far too early, it'd almost be surprising that they let Hicks walk after the 2016 season. In the first year as a Bear, Hicks put up a career-best 8.5 sacks, and he's been one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in football this season:
He's probably headed to the Pro Bowl this season, and if not for Bryce Callahan, Hicks would probably be considered the best defensive player not named Khalil Mack.
First Thought on Week 12
Aspan: So Chase Daniel huh? The 85 hour turnaround was always going to be a challenge but that certainly adds another wrinkle if Trubisky is forced to watch from the sidelines. But this is still the same Lions team that allowed the Bears six sacks just two weeks ago. That doesn’t just fix itself. This is also the same leaky secondary - that despite beating the Panthers - allowed D.J. Moore to catch 7 passes for 157 yards and a TD, one week after allowing Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson 100 yard days.
The Bears are clearly the better team, regardless of who’s playing quarterback. This game will probably be closer than it should be, but here’s to counting on the Bears to back up Sunday night’s showing with another W.
Ellis: While having a QB show up on the injury is never a good thing, the Bears' situation is about as good as you can expect, given the circumstances. The Lions have the the 29th ranked overall defense by DVOA, so theoretically a Chase Daniels offense could hand the ball off enough to not lose. The 30th ranked secondary in the NFL isn't going to be *that* much better against Chase Daniels than they would Mitch Trubisky. Next week? The Giants have the 27th ranked pass defense and are the 20th ranked rush group. All things considered, it could be a lot worse. There's a reason Daniels is one of the highest-paid backups in football.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.