Bears

Bears-Titans preview: Bears ball

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Bears-Titans preview: Bears ball

The Tennessee Titans have not defended anything particularly well. So:
If the Bears cannot run the ball at will on a defense standing 28th in yardage and 26th in per-carry averages allowed;
if they cannot throw at will on a unit ranked 31st in third-down stops, 30th in sacks per pass play and 30th in overall yards allowed per game;
then the Bears offense may want to forget about getting off the bus running and just stay on the bus.
We dont have to get exponentially better, insisted quarterback Jay Cutler. We just have to take one step at a time, each week each player gets a little better at a time and by the end of the year well be where we want to be.
They most definitely are not where they want to be now. Despite the addition of Brandon Marshall, the Bears rank 25th in passing yardage per game (195.6). Last year they were 18th (222.7).
Curiously perhaps, while some talk is over whether or not running back Matt Forte is getting the ball enough, the Bears are averaging 124 yards per game vs. last years 114.7 at this point.
Remember the Titans
The Titans are being perceived as a get-right game for the streaky Chicago Bears offense. It would be a mistake in judgment if that filtered into the Bears locker room the way the misperception of the Carolina Panthers appeared to, judging from the results of the first three quarters last Sunday and players acknowledging that they came out flat.
Carolina allowed the Bears all of 61 yards until the final possession of the third quarter when Jay Cutler found Earl Bennett for 24 and 11 yards on successive plays. Even that trace of a pulse amounted to nothing when Robbie Gould missed a field goal, meaning that with 7 minutes remaining in the game, the supposedly explosive Chicago offense had put all of seven points on the NFLs 20th-ranked scoring defense.
If that happens against the Titans, an offseason of adding Michael Bush, Brandon Marshall, Chilo Rachal and other pieces like Jeremy Bates to coach Cutler would appear to have added very little to the overall.
Tennessee is 31st in points allowed (32.1 per game). Of some immediate concern, for the last three games, the Titans are allowing an average of nearly 25 points per game, and they won two of those games.
Breakdown avoidance
The Bears have allowed an alarming 11 sacks in the last two games. They are credited with accounting for nearly a third of the years sack totals for Detroit (five of 17) and Carolina (six of 20).
The operative word there is Bears because Cutlers propensity to hold the ball too long has directly contributed to an estimated half of those takedowns.
And it is Bears because so many different players are having breakdowns in an overall where one missed block can offset every other one being made.
We talked about a couple weeks ago, Dont be The Guy to mess up, and we took turns all the way across the board being the guy, Tice said. We had a lot of individual breakdowns of guys physically across the board.
The Titans play a 4-3 with undersized speed rushers on the edges, one in particular that has left the Bears with some scar tissue.
Kamerion Wimbley delivered what arguably was a turning point the wrong direction last season as an Oakland Raider when he intercepted a Caleb Hanie pass and returned it 73 yards to set up a first-half field goal that took away a go-ahead scoring opportunity and appeared to unravel Hanie and the Bears, who lost that and the next four games, and the season.
Wimbley, with 2.5 sacks and five QB pressures, will typically line up at right end at 255 pounds about the same size as Green Bays Clay Matthews with a 70-pound disadvantage vs. left tackle JMarcus Webb. He had a sack of Hanie last year and one of Cutler in 2009, a game in which Cutler was pressured into a passer rating of 66.7.
Wimbley is a former No. 1 pick (Cleveland). Left end Derrick Morgan (278 pounds) was Titans No. 1 pick in 2010. And the starting secondary has a total of 22 NFL seasons, with three 6-footers and 5-10 corner Alterraun Verner.
Scary team, Marshall said. Theyve got some guys on the back end that have played the game for some time now.

What’s at stake for the Bears in Sunday Night’s pivotal NFC North battle

What’s at stake for the Bears in Sunday Night’s pivotal NFC North battle

The Bears aren’t viewing Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings as an opportunity to make a statement. But this also isn’t just another game — it’s the Bears’ best opportunity to take control of a division in which they’ve been mired at the bottom for the last five years. 

“You could say whatever you want in these situations,” outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “Ultimately, it’s all about getting a win — playing as a team and getting a win. You can’t really get too caught up in the hype. You gotta let that stuff roll off your shoulders and go out and ball, and that’s the mindset of this team, we’re going to go out and ball.”

The Bears enter Sunday with an 86.7 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, according to Football Outsiders. Their chance of winning the division is 68.9 percent, and the most likely playoff seed they’re in line for is No. 3 (35 percent). The Vikings, meanwhile, have a 43.8 percent chance of making the playoffs, and only a 17.4 percent chance of winning the division.

If the Bears win, here’s how the top three in the NFC North would look:

Bears: 7-3
Vikings: 5-4-1
Packers: 4-5-1

The Bears would be 1 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota and 2 1/2 games ahead of Green Bay. But how could that play out with these teams’ remaining schedules?

Bears: 

@ Detroit (Thanksgiving)
@ New York Giants
vs. Los Angeles Rams
vs. Green Bay
@ San Francisco 
@ Minnesota

Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, and the Lions, Giants and 49ers won’t lose the rest of their games this year (especially at home). But at worst, the Bears can reasonably expect to win two of those three games against divisional bottom-feeders, and then one of three games against the Packers, Rams and Vikings. That almost seems like the worst-case scenario, and in it, the Bears get to 10-6. It’s easy to see how, with a win over Minnesota on Sunday night, 11-5 or even 12-4 could be in play. 

The Vikings, meanwhile, have a difficult road ahead:

vs. Green Bay
@ New England
@ Seattle (Monday night)
vs. Miami
@ Detroit
vs. Chicago

The Packers’ path is considerably easier:

@ Minnesota
vs. Arizona
vs. Atlanta
@ Chicago
@ New York Jets
vs. Detroit

But Green Bay probably can only afford one more loss. There’s a very real scenario in which the Bears knock the Packers out of playoff contention with a win at Soldier Field Dec. 16. 

As for the Vikings — a loss to the Bears Sunday night drops them to 5-4-1, though they could hang in the division race by taking two of three from that Green Bay-New England-Seattle stretch, then sweeping their final three games. 

The flip side to all this is what happens if the Bears lose: The Vikings would slide past the Bears into first place with a 6-3-1 record. It wouldn’t knock the Bears out of the NFC North race, not with the way each team’s schedule lines up. 

But psychologically, the effects of losing to the Vikings for the Bears could be longer-lasting than merely losing first place by half a game. Just as psychologically, the effects of beating the Vikings could have a longer-lasting impact than padding their lead in the division to 1 1/2 games. 

“We know it's a big game coming up,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “But all we've got to do is take care of our job. Do our job, block all the noise out and take care of business.”

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Whitney Young

2017-18 record: 28-8, 7-2 Public League Red-North/West

Postseason results: Lost to Belleville West in Class 4A state title game.

Players to watch: The junior backcourt of Fenwick transfer D.J. Steward and Tyler Beard is potentially the best in the state as both players are consensus top-75 national prospects. Senior Myles Baker is poised for a big season after some strong play last season. Other seniors like Justin Warren and Keenan Jones are great role players who have helped win plenty of games.

Why they're in the power rankings: After falling just short of back-to-back Class 4A championships last season, Whitney Young reloads to replace departed seniors like Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda. It's rare a high school team loses two Division I prospects and replenishes with a backcourt that could be better, but that's the case here with Whitney Young. The Dolphins have the upside to be the state's best team this season.

Did you know? Whitney Young has been a state final qualifier seven times -- including five times under current head coach Tyrone Slaughter.