Minnesota Vikings

Do the Bears really have the worst 'QB situation’ in the NFC North?

Do the Bears really have the worst 'QB situation’ in the NFC North?

The Bears have the worst quarterback situation in the NFC North, and are 25th overall at the most important position in football, according to these SI.com offseason rankings. 

Do they really, though?

Well, first, these are the QB situations that the Bears are deemed better than:

26. Bills – Josh Allen

27. Broncos – Joe Flacco

28. Bengals – Andy Dalton

29. Bucs – Jameis Winston

God, I sure hope so.

The next closest 2018 playoff team to the Bears ? The Ravens and Lamar Jackson at No. 18, with an asterisk to new Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles at No. 22.

As for the NFC North:

4. Aaron Rodgers

19. Matthew Stafford

21. Kirk Cousins

25. Mitch Trubisky

Of course Rodgers is gonna be top 5, but let’s conservatively say more than half of Tyler Dunne’s Green Bay expose was accurate. All of a sudden at the age of 35, the most talented quarterback to ever play is gonna start mentoring young guys and completely buy into a young head coach’s system with Matt LaFleur? He may not even have to for the Packers to be a playoff team, he’s that good, but it’s no guarantee.

Stafford has been to the playoffs just twice in the last seven seasons and has never won a playoff game. And the Lions appear to be stuck with him for at least two more years with a cap hit of about $30 million per season.

And all Kirk Cousins is doing is continuing to draw the skepticism of his own head coach, Mike Zimmer, and putting a massive cooler on his alma mater Michigan State with a Final Four pregame speech. Say it with me, Bears fans: two more years, fully guaranteed for the rest of that $84M.

Which leads us to Mitch, coming off what should have been two fourth quarter comeback (and a game-winning) drives, in the playoffs, entering the biggest offseason of any Bears player in recent memory, while still on his rookie contract.

Are we sure the Bears don’t actually have the best quarterback situation in the NFC North?

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How the Bears' schedule stacks up against the rest of the NFC North

How the Bears' schedule stacks up against the rest of the NFC North

We’ve known who the Bears will play in the 2019 regular season since New Year's Eve 2018, and have known where they'll play those opponents for even longer. That always makes the NFL’s schedule reveal sort of an odd phenomenon, especially because most of it gets leaked long before primetime shows air on NFL Network and ESPN. 

Additionally: Do we really know how good anyone is going to be in 2019, the Bears included? 

So yes, the Bears have the most difficult schedule of any team in the NFC North by virtue of playing fellow 2018 division winners New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. But a side-by-side comparison to the rest of the NFC North reveals the Bears’ schedule has both its drawbacks and advantages compared to the rest of the division: 

Different opponents

Bears: @ Rams, Saints (division winners)
Vikings: @ Seahawks, Falcons
Packers: @ 49ers, Panthers
Lions: @ Cardinals, Buccaneers

The Bears, undoubtedly, have the toughest pairing of NFC opponents here. But the Vikings having to go to Seattle — where they lost a year ago — isn’t easy against the 12th man, and the Falcons still have a powerful offense and could rebound to contention with an improved defense. 

As for the Packers, San Francisco should be much improved with Jimmy Garoppolo returning from a season-ending injury along with adding Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Tevin Coleman and whoever they pick second overall in next week. A healthy Cam Newton could do wonders for the Panthers, too. 

The Lions have two of the likely worst teams in the NFL, though questions remain if the Lions are any good anyways. 

The verdict: The Bears have the toughest pairing, but the Vikings and Packers don’t necessarily have easy ones, either. 

Different locations

Bears: @ Broncos, @ Raiders (London), @ Washington, @ Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys
Vikings: @ Kansas City, @ Chargers, @ Cowboys, @ Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Washington, Eagles
Packers: @ Kansas City, @ Chargers, @ Cowboys, @ Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Washington, Eagles
Lions: @Broncos, @ Raiders, @ Washington, @ Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys

The Bears and Lions, theoretically, got the easier draw in the AFC West with the Chiefs and Chargers — two of the AFC’s best teams in 2018 — at home, with the Broncos and Raiders at home. But this is worth noting given the timing of the Broncos’ game in Week 2:

Worth noting, too: The Chargers, who for one more year will play in a soccer stadium that’s usually full of opposing teams’ fans, had a 6-2 record on a road in 2018. 

But missing the Chiefs on the road is a good thing for the Bears — outside of fans losing out on a trip to Joe’s Kansas City. The game being in Week 16 could be fascinating, especially if both the teacher (Andy Reid) and protege (Matt Nagy) have something for which to play. Of course, there are eight months separating now and that game, so plenty could happen. 

Drawing Washington and New York on the road would’ve been the most ideal, but that didn’t happen with any team in the division, so right now it looks like a wash between how the NFC East opponents line up. 

The verdict: The Bears probably have the most favorable-looking schedule of any team here given they get the Raiders in, effectively, a neutral-site game (that likely will be heavily attended by Bears fans at Tottenham’s stadium). Whether or not Denver's uncanny success at home early in the season continues in the Vic Fangio regime remains to be seen. 

Time off

Opponents following an off week: Saints (Bears), at Seahawks (Vikings), at 49ers (Packers), at Packers (Lions)

Opponents following a Thursday night game: At Broncos, at Packers (Bears), at Chiefs (Vikings), Vikings, at Cowboys (Packers), at Vikings (Lions). 

The verdict: This isn’t a huge deal — the Bears had the quickest turnaround in NFL history from their Sunday night game against the Vikings to their Thanksgiving afternoon game against the Lions and wound up fine last year. 

Bears eliminate Vikings, will face Eagles in wild card round of NFL playoffs

Bears eliminate Vikings, will face Eagles in wild card round of NFL playoffs

MINNEAPOLIS — The Bears landed a knockout blow to the Minnesota Vikings with a 24-10 win at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, ensuring they’ll play the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round of the playoffs next weekend. 

Matt Nagy left his starters in for the majority of the game, save for pulling right guard Kyle Long — who came off injured reserve on Saturday — during the second quarter. It wasn’t until the Bears took a two-score lead in the fourth quarter did Nagy pull most of his starters. That decision to keep his best and most important players in the game came even as the Los Angeles Rams cruised past the San Francisco 49ers, eliminating any shot the Bears had at earning a first-round bye. 

So the Bears, in their first playoff appearance in eight years, will face an Eagles team that’s won three games in a row, including two over division winners in the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans. Drawing the defending Super Bowl champions will be a difficult task next weekend — though the status of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who left Philadelphia’s win over Washington with a chest injury, will be worth monitoring this week. 

The Bears didn’t send any signals last week about which team they preferred to face, instead focusing on simply wanting to beat the Vikings and let the playoff picture shake itself out across the NFL Sunday afternoon. 

The Bears smothered the Vikings outside of one penalty-aided drive, with the most notable thing Kirk Cousins did was get in a headed argument with wide receiver Adam Thielen toward the end of the first half. Trubisky was efficient and effective, converting four third downs on a pivotal second half 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Tarik Cohen touchdown and two-point conversion pass to linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. Jordan Howard barreled through a stout Minnesota defense for 109 yards on 21 carries, the second time he’s hit that mark in the last four weeks. 

It was fair for Bears fans to hope to play the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, given the Vikings aren’t actually all that good. But that’s also why the Vikings won’t be the Bears’ opponent — they’re just not that good of a team. The Bears looked like the team with something to play for while the Vikings lethargically went through the motions, never looking fit for a spot in the playoffs. 

Perhaps the most indicative sign of that feeling: The Vikings, after the Bears took an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, went four-and-out against a Bears defense that pulled Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks from the game for that series. They did the same thing on their next drive. 

More importantly: The Bears move on to the playoffs having won nine of their last 10 games. They haven’t lost with Mitch Trubisky as their quarterback since mid-October. This is a defense playing at the top of its game that very well could get safety Eddie Jackson back for the playoffs. They’ve won 12 games, the most this franchise has had since reaching the Super Bowl back in 2006. 

There’s a legitimate argument to be made the Bears are the hottest team in the NFC right now. 

But if they’re not, that team is the Eagles.