Bears-Broncos: And the winner is...


Bears-Broncos: And the winner is...

The No. 1 tipping-point key to winning in the NFL is turnovers, an area in which the Bears have turned themselves around from recent years and which suddenly is a problem for the Denver Broncos.

Jay Cutler’s interceptions are at career-low (1.8 percent) and the Bears find themselves at a modest minus-1 in spite of a secondary with exactly one interception on the season. As surprising perhaps is that the Broncos are not only minus-2, but also that they have not had a takeaway in three games and have lost the last two of those.

[MORE BEARS: Momentum in Bears’ favor as they face up to Broncos’ No. 1 defense]

Not that the Bears can count on winning without takeaways, but they are 3-1 in games with a negative turnover margin vs. 0-2 in games with a positive margin (Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings). Consider that a paradox and one that will eventually unravel the Bears if turnovers continue tilting away from them.

The broader true issue for the Bears is that Denver’s defense is No. 1 at yardage allowed and No. 3 in points given up, while the Bears are a very respectable No. 8 in yards but No. 24 in scoring defense. The Broncos, however, will be without their best pass rusher — DeMarcus Ware out with back spasms — while the Bears may be without linebacker Pernell McPhee. The Bears won last week without McPhee; the Broncos lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10 when Ware missed the second half.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

The problem for the Bears' defense has been rushing yards allowed (26th, 119 ypg.). But the Broncos are among the NFL’s worst rushing teams (29th, 86 ypg.), and the Bears are coming off a game in which they held St. Louis Rams rookie rushing phenom Todd Gurley to 3.8 yards per carry vs. his average of 5.6 coming in.

With a first-time starting quarterback (Brock Osweiler) and an anemic ground game, the Broncos will have difficulty scoring unless the Bears help them with turnovers, which Cutler and the offense has cut back on. Both teams average nearly 22 points per game and both will be challenged hitting that mark on Sunday, for different reasons. The Bears come closer.

Prediction: Bears 20, Broncos 18

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is having what many believe is his best offseason since taking the job in 2015, but after three seasons and only 14 wins, he needs a big year in 2018 to justify the confidence ownership has in him. 

According to a recent breakdown of all 32 general managers, Pace ranks among the worst decision-makers in the league.

No. 23: Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears

There’s only so much you can accomplish in one spring. The problem is that Pace let himself accumulate so many needs to begin with. He needs Trubisky and Nagy to springboard a fourth-year turnaround. 

The rankings didn't include six new GM hires, which makes Pace's positioning even more troubling.

Even though the Bears haven't seen wins on the field, Pace has done a solid job through three draft classes and appears to have the right coaching staff in place. His first hire, John Fox, was a calculated move by a rookie general manager to have an experienced football guy to lean on. Now, several offseasons later, the team is starting to take on his identity.

Despite all the talent Pace has added through the draft and the slow but steady transformation of the team's overall culture, it's a win-now business and if his blueprint doesn't start producing more wins than losses, it will be hard to justify more time and patience for his plan to develop.