After 13 games, Bears still a team without its own level


After 13 games, Bears still a team without its own level

Losing is hard enough to endure. When the losing feels like a case of playing down to the level of the competition, that takes the sting to another level entirely.

Of course, if you play often enough like a bad team, pretty good chance that you are one. That becomes your "level."

In the wake of the San Francisco game, quarterback Jay Cutler pointed out that the offense had not operated well in the Green Bay game, either. That was followed by the Washington embarrassment. The offense has scored four touchdowns just once through 13 games; the 2014 team at least accomplished that two times in arriving at its 5-8 record.

Through 13 games the Bears last year had 35 offensive touchdowns; through 13 this year, 28, and that with Cutler playing the best sustained football of his career.

The Bears’ defense has allowed 41 pass plays of 20 yards or longer this season; more than three-fourths of those (31) have been put on the Bears by teams with passing offenses ranked 21st (Washington) or lower.

“I think we’ve not done a good job of playing to our own potential, playing to our own standard of football,” cornerback Tracy Porter said. “We’ve done more playing to our competition’s level.

“We played at a great level going against Green Bay, guys were excited, and then we come out and we’re playing San Francisco and we’re playing down to their level.”

[MORE: Kevin White won't be activated this season]

Along with the losses to San Francisco and Washington, the Bears have the added pain of knowing those losses were to teams that had not won a road game previously. The loss in Detroit was to a Lions team that hadn’t won anywhere in five games.

The 49ers followed their escape from Soldier Field with a mauling at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, who’d lost seven straight before the 49ers. Washington came to Chicago after sputtering in a loss to hapless Dallas in which Washington scored just 16 points. Washington managed nearly that (14) in their first two possessions alone against the Bears’ defense.

It was not simply losing to bad teams. It was the way a team that went toe-to-toe with the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings – all teams with eight or more wins – could play down to the level of the inept. Detroit hadn’t won anywhere in five games before handing the Bears an overtime loss.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

The worse the opponent, the worse the Bears have played. But what in fact is the Bears’ “level?”

“Once we establish the fact that we have a standard of what we play and a level that we play at,” Porter said, “and we’re not going to go down to anyone’s level – they have to come up to our level –  that’s when we’ll do better at closing out these tight games, winning these close games.”

Under Center Podcast: Mitchell Trubisky is a Pro-Bowler!

Under Center Podcast: Mitchell Trubisky is a Pro-Bowler!

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan wonder if Mitchell Trubisky’s trip to the Pro Bowl can be beneficial. Plus, they talk about the Bears going to London next year and how Ryan Pace can fix issues at kicker and running back in the offseason. You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below:

0:25: What if you had someone who both knew Sean McVay and was friends with Manny Machado? Would they be an NFL head coach or be playing for the White Sox?
1:20: Mitchell Trubisky is a Pro Bowler. Did he deserve it? Does it matter?
6:30: Why it’s cool to see Charles Leno and Cody Whitehair get Pro Bowl nods, too
9:05: The Bears are going to London! Neat opportunity, or cause for concern?
12:45: Did the NFC/AFC Championship games make you think the Bears are closer or farther to the Super Bowl?
15:10: Would you rather your team lose on Cody Parkey’s double-doink or on an absurdly missed pass interference call?
19:10: How should the Bears go about fixing their kicking situation?
23:00: What does Ryan Pace need to do to address the run game?
26:40: Sneaky positions of need for the Bears in 2019

The Bears were the best bet in the NFL this season

The Bears were the best bet in the NFL this season

The Bears were the most profitable NFL team against the spread in the 2018 season. According to The Action Network, the Bears were 12-4 against the spread (ATS), and almost automatic at home, going 7-1 for bettors backing them at Soldier Field.

The NFC Champion Rams, despite going 13-3 during the regular season, were not a great bet, going just 7-7-2 ATS.

The second most profitable teams for bettors backing them? The 13-3 Saints who rewarded bettors with a 10-6 record…and believe it or not, yes, the Cleveland Browns, who despite finishing 7-8-1, also went 10-6 against the spread.