The 6-3 Chicago Bears have had one of the strangest seasons in recent memory, losing when they should win and winning when they should lose. Who are they? Who knows. But stringing together three straight wins heading into the Thanksgiving holiday would surely announce them as contenders not only for the NFC North but the entire conference.
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I detailed the mismatch this game presents for the Dolphins on special teams and it can't be overstated. In a game where I think both teams will play close to the vest, especially with the short week limiting preparation time, field position will be crucial. The Bears have Devin Hester. The Dolphins have some of the worst specials in the sport.
- The Ravens were able to control the Dolphins defense and neutralize Cameron Wake on the outside by throwing to Ray Rice seven times for ninety-seven yards. Jay Cutler has found a rhythm with his hot routes and it's actually bought him more time in the pocket and enabled him to make big first downs with his legs.
- I understand Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are tough, physical runners. I understand Brian Hartline and Davone Bess are talented receivers. But there are only two Dolphins that scare me this week as Tyle Thigpen assumes the starting quarterback job: Brandon Marshall and Anthony Fasano. The Lovie Bears have a track record of identifying the opponent's number one receiver and then letting him catch a dozen balls for over a hundred yards and a couple touchdowns. And with the new QB, Fasano will be the safety blanket over the middle. (He's also coming off the best game of his career.) Urlacher and the safeties have done a nice job on tight ends this year but Charles Tillman will need to keep Marshall from gaining massive yardage after the catch.
- Jake Long is reportedly going to attempt to play this week. If he does, I expect Julius Peppers to test him early. If he doesn't, I expect Julius Peppers to set up base camp over the left tackle and attack Thigpen from the blindside all evening long.
- I can't imagine the wildcat being effective against linebackers with our speed.
- Miami is a significantly better team on the road than at home.
- I think Jay Cutler knows he's thrown 1.6 million interceptions in primetime over the past two seasons and I think he'll be quite determined to protect the ball and let the defense/specials win this one. (Cutler on his red zone interception: "I'm not that worried about it." Can't lie. I like the kid.)
- Here's what I've noticed from the Bears. They are improving on the offensive line. They are starting to get short bursts from the running backs. They are committing to the run. I think this is the night the Bears decide to put the game on the back of Forte/Taylor. And I think Forte/Taylor have a big night.
- I think the Bears have found their best four down linemen with Orange Julius, Izzy, Henry Melton and Matt Toeaina.
- I think the Bears have their ballhawk back and it's because of players like Tim Jennings and DJ Moore. No one is more surprised by that sentence than I am.
- Basic reason why? I think the Bears have found their rhythm and are coming into this game Thursday night as confident as they've been in a long time. Watching the press conferences with Lovie, Jay and Brian made it apparent these guys were energized by that win Sunday and want back on the field ASAP. They get their wish. They get another win.
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Tags: Anthony Fasano, Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline, Brian Urlacher, Cameron Wake, Charles Tillman, Chester Taylor, Chicago Bears, Davone Bess, Devin Hester, DJ Moore, Henry Melton, Israel Idonije, Jake Long, Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, Matt Forte, Matt Toeaina, Miami Dolphins, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Tim Jennings