Full disclosure: I don't love the Chicago Bears this week. No one who sat in Soldier Field Sunday afternoon and watched the Bears "offense" fail to score a touchdown while starting every drive from their own forty can possibly think Caleb Hanie is going on the road, in altitude, against a better defense and beating a team quarterbacked by Y-H-W-H. If you do believe the Bears will win, which I do, it is not based on anything you've SEEN from Hanie. So...
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I will say about Tebus of Nazareth what I say about all running quarterbacks; read option or not. The Bears have arguably the best, most athletic linebacking corps in the league and I believe they'll be able to keep Tebow and Willis McGahee from controlling this game on the ground. If they do it'll force the Broncos and Tebow to do the thing they least want to do: throw.
- When Tebow has success in the air it is usually hitting wide open receivers down field in man coverage. But his delivery is too slow and deliberate to beat Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings, especially if either is given help over the top. I have little-to-no respect for Tebus' ability to beat a team with his arm and if he does so against the Bears at least we can stop all that playoff talk.
- I like the Martz verbal approach this week, per Brad Biggs in the Trib. The Bears seemed committed last week to rushing the ball on first and second down, no matter what. They struggled against nine-man fronts and set up difficult conversions for a shaky quarterback. This week the Bears must trust Caleb Hanie to throw on early downs or else they'll find Von Miller burying him into the turf on every third down.
- Hanie has to protect the damn football. Tebow can't throw a ball far enough to beat the defense with a first half Hail Mary (though you'd think that would be the only play he'd want called) so if Hanie does not throw the ball to the Broncos the Bears will have a very good chance to win this game. This is a larcenous defense that has been allowing their offense to win games with minimal offensive production.
- Here's what I would do against the Broncos: take shots. I counted three separate times Sunday when Johnny Knox had a step or two on a corner in man coverage and all Caleb Hanie needed to do was release the football downfield. (And on all three Caleb had plenty of time to throw it.) The Bears have the speed on the outside to wreck havoc against the aging backend of the Broncos secondary. Put Hanie in shotgun and let Knox, Hester fly.
- I'd also love to see Tebus take that college garbage directly at Julius Peppers. If he does he won't be finishing the season at QB for the Broncos. Peppers executed that clothesline right in front of me Sunday and it was violent. Tebus is due to take a shot and Pep has been delivering them weekly.
The season has changed. The goals have changed. But if the Bears make the postseason now, it will be a feather in the cap of every player on the defensive side of the ball and every coach on the sidelines. It starts Sunday. If they win this game, I think they make the playoffs.Chicago Bears 16, Denver Broncos 13
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