Bears

Bears further prove they have an important ‘it’ factor for playoffs in win over 49ers

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USA TODAY

Bears further prove they have an important ‘it’ factor for playoffs in win over 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Bears’ 14-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Levi’s Stadium is this: The Bears, again, proved they’re a team that knows how to win in nearly any given set of circumstances.

Was this the Bears’ best win of the year? Far from it. Was it full of highlight reel plays by the offense and a bunch of coordinated post-turnover dances by the defense? Hardly. Was it the kind of game that’ll be looked back on in January as a turning point for the season? Not at all.

But the Bears kept their hopes of earning a first-round bye alive with this win. And this is a team that showed it can win games in a number of different ways. To wit, on Sunday:

— The Bears’ defense didn’t allow a touchdown, the second time it’s accomplished that feat in a game this year, and didn’t give up a single point in the second half.

— The Bears’ offense chewed up 18:44 of clock time in the second half, and would’ve been able to have the ball for the final 7:37 of the game had Allen Robinson not fumbled after picking up a first down just after the two minute warning.

The Bears did that without winning the turnover battle (lost 2-1) while managing their fewest points of the year (previous lows: 15 against the Los Angeles Rams, 16 against the Arizona Cardinals). They had to make a defensive stop after Robinson’s fumble, and were able to do that with the help of an odd fourth-down decision by Nick Mullens to huck a pass toward the end zone instead of run for what looked like a makeable first down.

“Because we’ve been in this situation so many times and have come up big, it’s almost expected of us,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “Like when we had to go back on the field to help win it for our team, everyone was poised and no one was shaking. We expected great things to come out of it an we’re glad we stood up for our team.”

This is a Bears team that is hurtling toward the playoffs with a clear identity: A world-beating defense and an offense that, so long as it stays within itself, is good enough to make the necessary plays to win without back-breaking mistakes. And what gives the Bears confidence is this team’s ability to make plays late in games to win — it’s, essentially, the kind of winning attitude that hasn’t been seen around Halas Hall in a long time.

“You never know how every single game is going to shake down, and I think just the experiences we’ve been through have made us a stronger, smarter team and more importantly have united us as a family,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “So the things we’ve been through and the experiences in each game, you kind of take that and you carry with you and then you’re just drawing back on experience. You’re out here and when you get into that situation again, you’re like okay, we’ve been here before, stick to what we do, trust in each other and everyone out here go do their jobs and then nobody freaks out, everyone’s just calm, cool, everyone do their jobs and we’re just playing football.”

While Trubisky completed a remarkable 25 of his 29 passes (86 percent), he did make two rough mistakes in the first half: First, firing a lateral to Tarik Cohen on a run-pass option that resulted in a lost fumble; and second, under-throwing a pass toward the end zone that was intercepted, only to be bailed out by a defensive holding call. The Bears’ defense was good enough to paper over the first mistake and hold the 49ers to a field goal; Trubisky rebounded a few plays later from the second one and hit Anthony Miller for a touchdown.

The Bears will march on to Minnesota next weekend to end their regular season with, at least, their highest win total since 2010 — the last time they made the playoffs. A win over the Vikings would give the Bears a dozen victories, which would represent their highest total since 2006, when this team last made the Super Bowl.

But what’s clear is the Bears are a team that not only knows how to win, but believes it’ll win no matter the situation or opponent. And that’ll count for something when the playoffs start next month.

“We’re steady growing,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “I think we’re peaking.”

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

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USA TODAY

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

Week 1: Packers at Bears (TNF / NFL Season Opener)

It’s NFL Opening Night. Really not much else to say here. The Packers do host the Vikings in Week 2, so there’s that.

**10 days off**

Week 2: Bears at Broncos

No shortage of juice for the Broncos here. On top of Vic Fangio getting the opportunity to take down his former team, it’s the Broncos home opener. There’s also some ridiculous stat out there about the Broncos being something like 75-2 in Week 2 at home or something (*Not the actual stat, it’s buried in TweetDeck somewhere), so this one will be tough.

Week 3: Bears at Washington (MNF)

 

Washington’s schedule

Week 1 at Eagles

Week 2 vs Cowboys

Week 3 vs Bears MNF

Week 4 vs Giants

Week 5 vs Patriots

So Washington hosts the Bears in the midst of facing all three of their divisional opponents in the first four weeks of the season. I don’t know what it means, I just know I found it interesting. Worst case scenario for the Bears is that Washington is (more than likely) 0-2 and needs to throw the kitchen sink at the Bears to “save” their season on Monday Night Football. But then there’s this: Washington is 2-14 on Monday Night Football since November of 2008.

Week 4 Vikings vs Bears

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 3 vs Raiders

Week 4 at Bears

Week 5 at Giants

Week 6 vs Eagles

Divisional games aren’t typically let down or look ahead spots and that certainly holds true for both teams here. I’d watch out for that Giants game in New York sandwiched between the Bears and Eagles if I were a Vikings fan though.

Week 5 vs Raiders in London

 

Raiders Schedule

Week 2 vs Chiefs

Week 3 at Vikings

Week 4 at Colts

Week 5 vs Bears in London

Week 6 BYE

All bets are off for these London games. The Khalil Mack trade revenge game certainly should be a Bears win, and after facing a murderers row of the Chiefs, Vikings and Colts, the Raiders could be limping across the pond.

Week 6  BYE

Week 7  Saints vs Bears

 

Saints Schedule

Week 6 at Jaguars

Week 7 at Bears

Week 8 vs Cardinals

As JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and I talked about on the Under Center podcast I actually think it’s a good thing the Bears are facing a likely Super Bowl contender coming out of the bye week. Last season, they faced the Dolphins and Giants coming out of the Bye, and the extended post-Thanksgiving break respectively and they lost against bad teams. No excuse for not getting up for this game. And as you can see, there’s nothing to distract the Saints from the defending NFC North champs.

Week 8   Chargers vs Bears

 

Chargers Schedule

Week 6 vs Steelers

Week 7 at Titans

Week 8 at Bears

Week 9 vs Packers

So the Chargers were 7-1 on the road last season, but I think their road success and their 12-4 record come back to earth in 2019. Last season was their first season winning 10+ games since 2009. And we saw the real Chargers (not) show up against the Patriots when it mattered most in the AFC Divisional Round. Give me a healthy dose of Philip Rivers throwing a temper tantrum after Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks combine for the Bears fourth sack of the day.

Week 9 at Eagles

 

Eagles Schedule

Week 7 at Cowboys (SNF)

Week 8  at Bills

Week 9 vs Bears

Week 10 BYE

Week 11 vs Patriots

The already tall task of avenging last season’s double doink playoff heartbreak gets even tougher with the way the schedule falls for Jordan Howard’s new team. Having the Patriots looming could have been advantageous for the Bears, but this being the Eagles’ last game before the bye nixes any chance Doug Pederson’s team will be looking past the Bears and ahead to a Super Bowl LII rematch. Big game at a big point of the season for both teams.

Week 10 vs Lions

 

Lions Schedule

Week 9 at Raiders

Week 10 at Bears

Week 11 vs Cowboys

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Nothing jumps out from the Lions perspective here. Should be a ‘get right game’ for the Bears coming off IMO their toughest stretch of the season. There is some letdown potential with the lowly Lions dropped into this otherwise murderer’s row 5 game stretch.

Week 11 at Rams (SNF)

 

Rams schedule

Week 10 at Steelers

Week 11 vs Bears  (SNF)

Week 12 vs Ravens (MNF)

Super Bowl hangover anyone?? The Bears laid the defensive blueprint for how to beat the Rams – and the thing I can’t still get over: it’s great that a mic’d up Sean McVay realized the Patriots were using the Bears scheme early in the Super Bowl. But how did he not have a counter for it at that point? A team beat you this exact way? The Bears finish what they started a season ago by sending the Rams into a tailspin while Mitch cements himself as a household name.

Week 12 vs Giants

 

Giants Schedule

Week 11  BYE

Week 12  at Bears

Week 13 vs Packers

We’re doing this again are we? Huge letdown spot for the Bears against what should be a really bad team coming off their bye week and the Bears have a short Thanksgiving week looming. I don’t like it. Not even a little bit.

Week 13 at Lions (Thanksgiving)

 

Lions Schedule

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Week 14 at Vikings

We saw the Bears handle a brutal 85-hour turnaround from Sunday Night Football to Thanksgiving last season – so they’ve been here. Last year’s Thanksgiving game did actually come down to Kyle Fuller making a game-saving INT in the end zone at the end of the game. Definitely edge Bears but anything can happen on Turkey day.

**update! I found the Broncos stat!  51-8-2 in weeks 1-2 at home.  Carry on.****

Week 14 vs Cowboys (TNF)

 

Cowboys schedule

Week 12 at Patriots

Week 13 vs Bills

Week 14 at Bears (TNF)

Week 15 vs Rams

Getting funky with back to back Thursdays. The Bears did do this in 2014, losing against the Lions and Cowboys in that order as the Trestman era was coming to its Real Football Coaches of Chicago (in)glorious ending. For my money, I have this as the most pivotal game of the season. With 10 days off afterward, a win could propel the Bears into their crucial home stretch (and the playoffs) in the driver’s seat.

**10 days off**

Week 15  at Packers

 

Packers Schedule

Week 13 at Giants

Week 14 vs Washington

Week 15 vs Bears

Week 16 at Vikings

Week 17 at Lions

Well here’s some fun with schedules. The Packers finish with three straight against the NFC North. And they get to warm up for it with back to back games against the NFC East’s least. Does the Matt Nagy era come full circle from Lambeau heartbreak in the 2018 opener to cementing his second straight divisional crown in enemy territory?

Week 16 vs Chiefs (SNF)

 

Chiefs Schedule

Week 14 at Patriots

Week 15 vs Broncos

Week 16 at Bears (SNF)

Week 17 vs Chargers

Definitely a roll of the dice by the schedule makers to have the Andy Reid – Matt Nagy, mentor vs pupil, reigning MVP vs reigning top defense this late in the season. This game very well could mean nothing to either or both teams. But for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we all get the primetime early Christmas present of watching Patrick Mahomes vs the Bears defense with everything on the line.

Week 17 at Vikings

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 14 vs Lions

Week 15 at Chargers (SNF)

Week 16 vs Packers (MNF)

Week 17 vs Bears

Another fun schedule wrinkle where another NFC North opponents close with a division heavy final stretch. Normally I would have a problem with the Vikings getting to end the season with all three of their NFC North home games in the final month. But we saw what the Vikings did at home with their season on the line against the Bears in the final week last season, so I have my doubts as to whether they’ll even still be alive at this point.

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Legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock dies after car crash

Legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock dies after car crash

Legendary Chicago sportscaster Chet Coppock died on Wednesday due to injuries sustained in a car crash last week, his daughter confirmed in a post on Facebook. He was 70 years old.

"His passing is untimely, unexpected and painfully sad, but all we can do at this time is remember how lucky we were to have such a unique and creative trailblazer help shape into the adults we know he was so incredibly proud of," Lyndsey Coppock wrote.

MORE: NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan remembers Coppock and the impact he had on his career.

We'll have more reaction to Coppock's tragic passing later in the day.