Bears

It's officially scoreboard-watching season, and the Bears aren't shying away from that

It's officially scoreboard-watching season, and the Bears aren't shying away from that

It’d be hard to blame Bears’ fans for rushing to their preferred playoff simulator after the Vikings lost to Seattle on Monday Night Football. It’d also be hard to blame their disappointment when realizing that, despite almost everything breaking their way this weekend, the Bears’ playoff odds moved from 1% to 3%. 

The Bears, for all intents and purposes, no longer control their own playoff chances. To put it in perspective: even if the Bears win their next three games (DAL, @GB, KC), and the Vikings lose all three (DET, @LAC, GB), Chicago would only have a 45% chance of making the playoffs, per FiveThirtyEight’s simulator. If the Packers lose their next three and the Vikings go 1-2, those odds go up, ever so slightly, to 50%. 

Since the Bears were off on Sunday, they got a rare chance to get started on something that they’ll be doing a fair bit of – whether they want to admit it or not – over the final month: scoreboard watching. 

“Well yeah I saw parts of [the Vikings’ loss],” Matt Nagy said. “We were finishing up our plan, but I did see parts of it.”

It’s not just that the Bears are facing an uphill climb, but making matters worse is that the teams they’re jockeying for position won’t have it nearly as hard over the next four weeks. Per Football Outsiders’ future schedule statistic, the Vikings’ final month is the 20th hardest and Green Bay’s is 24th. The Bears? They have the hardest final month of any NFL team. (One silver lining is that Los Angeles, the team directly above the Bears in the standings with the tie-breaker in hand, has the 3rd-hardest.) 

“Again, there are some things that we can and can't control,” Nagy added. “And there being a division opponent with Minnesota, obviously affects us a little bit but we don't ... again, it goes back to we can't do anything but win for us.” 

Even with playoff odds still under 5%, there’s a palpable optimism that wasn’t around Halas Hall only two weeks ago. The team’s getting Akiem Hicks back on the 15th, and there’s a reason why Danny Trevathan hasn’t been put on IR. Things will drastically change if the Bears can’t win on Thursday night, but for now, there’s some renewed optimism as December arrives – somewhat surprisingly – with a full slate of meaningful football to be played. 

“You can say that, in a way,” Khalil Mack said on Tuesday. “But it’s up to us. We can only focus on what we can control and that’s try to get another victory on Thursday.” 

“I guess if that's what we need to hear, yup.” Nagy added, sarcastically. “Two percent.” 

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The road to Super Bowl LIV filled with plenty of intrigue for Bears fans

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USA TODAY

The road to Super Bowl LIV filled with plenty of intrigue for Bears fans

Super Bowl LIV is going to have plenty of intrigue for Bears fans. There are many connections in terms of the players in the game and each team's journey to Super Bowl LIV contained plenty of points of interest for the Chicago fan base along the way. With the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers set to faceoff on February 2, 2020, let's take a look at the most important connections for Bears fans to monitor and think back on as they prepare for the big game. 

Aaron Rodgers' big dud:

Aaron Rodgers, who has otherwise had a great season (4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns), laid an absolute dud in the first half against the 49ers, resulting in the Packers entering the half down 27-0. In Rodgers' first-half performance he threw for under 70 yards, had one interception, and two fumbles, losing one of them. 

There is no shame in playing poorly against the San Francisco defense, which is No. 1 in the league in postseason total defense (yards per game) but that being said, Rodgers and the Packers were thoroughly dominated. Rodgers pick was to Emmanuel Moseley on what appeared to be a miscommunication and his fumble was a result of a bad handoff exchange between him and center Corey Linsley. 

Rodgers capped off the game with his final turnover, an interception to Richard Sherman, as the Packers fell 37-20 to the 49ers.

Welcome to "The Show" Raheem Mostert (Remember him?)

For the most diligent of Bears fans, the name Raheem Mostert may ring a bell. For those who are drawing a blank when it comes to the connection between the explosive Mostert and the Bears, you need to go back to 2016, when Mostert was a running back on the Bears practice squad. The Bears signed Mostert in Septemeber 2016 and he actually was elevated to the Bears active roster at some point that season. Mostert appeared in two games for the Bears in 2016, not seeing much action in either contest. The Bears released the running back out of Purdue on November 24, 2016. He landed on the 49ers practice squad in 2016 and was used sparingly over the years before his big break in the 2019 season. 

Mostert lit up the Packers' defense to the tune of 220 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He had touchdown runs of 36, 9, 18, and 22 yards.

The San Francisco rushing attack is extremely potent. evidenced by the fact that they had three different players rush for over 500 yards in the 2019 regular season. Mostert led the way with eight rushing touchdowns in the regular season but Matt Breida (6) wasn't too far behind. When the Bears had Mostert, he likely wasn't running the way he is now. But the 49ers are tops in the league in postseason rushing yards per game and Mostert's play is obviously a big reason, leaving Bears fans to wonder what could have been. 

The local kid vs the 2018 NFL MVP 

He didn't have to do much on Sunday but local product Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his Super Bowl debut after going

Graoppolo, who grew up in Arlington Heights, went to Rolling Meadows High School, where he performed well enough to end up at Eastern Illinois. In his three years with the Panthers, Garoppolo broke the pass completions record that was held by former Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo on his way to becoming a New England Patriot and one of the hottest trade chips in the NFL. The Pats eventually traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft in a move that many fans are still wishing the Bears would've or could've made. 

The 49ers' handpicked franchise QB had a solid 2019 regular season, throwing for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Similar to Mitchell Trubisky in 2018, "Jimmy G" is backed by a great defense that allows him to operate as stress-free as possible. While Bears fans are surely intrigued about the idea of Garoppolo as a Bear, it is no doubt Patrick Mahomes who induces the longest sighs. 

Mahomes, who the Bears and a bunch of other NFL teams now infamously passed up on in the 2017 draft, is already a league MVP who is now getting ready to play in his first Super Bowl all before the age of 25. Mahomes lit up a very physical Tennesse Titans defense, throwing for 294 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 53 yards and another touchdown. For a team that has had no trouble scoring as is, Mahomes' recent surge in rushing yards adds another dimension to an already potent attack.

Garoppolo-Trubisky comparisons could be interesting depending on how the rest of the season shakes out. But it was already unfair to compare Trubisky's solid career to what has been a meteoric rise for Mahomes in KC, and will be an even tougher comparison should Mahomes rack up some additional hardware in February. 

The Bears REALLY made an impact in this one 

We mentioned that running back Mostert was a former Chicago Bear, but with Chicago-favorite Robbie Gould still acting as the kicker for the 49ers, former Bears scored all 37 of the 49ers points on Sunday.

We told you the Bears had a strong presence in this one! Super Bowl LIV will kick off on February 2, 2020 at the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

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Tom Brady to meet with other teams in 2020 free agency

Tom Brady to meet with other teams in 2020 free agency

Let the games begin! After spending his entire NFL career at Gillette Stadium with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady is entering free agency. Per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Brady is open to talks with other teams for what is to be the last contract of his playing career.

Brady has been a staple of the Patriots franchise for 19 years. There are young New England fans who haven’t ever been alive during a time without Brady under center. The Patriots are certain to undergo changes in the future, with many wondering how much longer Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick will be at the helm of the organization, so it is understandable to see Brady ready to explore his options.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

At 42-years-old, Brady has been telling those close to him that, unless he is sidelined by injury, he anticipates playing until age 45. Brady is also excited at the prospect of mentoring a young quarterback so that whatever organization he plays with during his final NFL stint, it is set for success after he retires. The question for Bears fans is, could that young quarterback be Mitch Trubisky?

After an uninspiring season, there is much talk about creating some competition at QB for the three-year Bears starter. Some healthy competition could drive Trubisky to play like the draft pick that Ryan Pace hoped he would be. The Bears are currently in the bottom-five of salary cap space in the NFL, meaning they would have to do some serious budgeting to be able to afford Brady, but fans will have to wait and see what Pace intends to do this off-season after a disappointing 2019 campaign.

La Canfora reports that it would “extremely surprising” if Brady were to agree to a new deal with the Patriots before free agency begins in March. There have been other reports of the Brady family moving to Connecticut (still technically in New England, but a move nonetheless) and a deep clean of Giselle Bündchen’s suite at Gillette Stadium, indicating that Brady is indeed ready to move on. We will all just have to wait and see where Brady will end up in 2020. 

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