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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and Beyond

The Divisional round of NFL playoffs weren't quite as exciting as Wildcard weekend, but I think we have the best match ups set up for Championship Sunday. Check out my thoughts on the NFL, and be sure to add a few of your own in the comment section.

Otto Greule Jr

1) There's a growing narrative in the NFL that it's no longer a passing league, based on the success of the playoff teams.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Most of NFL&#39;s best teams win with power football &amp; physicality. &quot;Passing league&quot; is a myth.</p>&mdash; Evan Silva (@evansilva) <a href="">January 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Passing league? None of the 3 Divisional game winning QBs threw for over 200 yards this weekend.</p>&mdash; Rich Eisen (@richeisen) <a href="">January 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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First off, playoff football is a different animal. You generally have better teams still alive, and better teams usually have success both running and passing. You can't have a one dimensional offense if you want to be a truly great team.

Secondly, it's a heck of a lot easier to run the ball if you have a good quarterback under center. Does anyone really think LeGarrette Blount goes for 166 yards and 4 tuddys if Tom Brady exits with a first quarter injury? Defenses play the New England Patriots a but differently with Brady under center than they would against backup QB Ryan Mallett.

Running the ball becomes easier when you can't stack the box with an 8th or 9th man.

Maybe the better term to use instead of 'passing league', would be 'quarterback driven league', because it's rare that a Trent Dilfer type of player will win the big one. If you want to win with smash-mouth football, you better have a quality quarterback to give your offense some options.

2) Exhibit one for the above narrative was the first game this weekend, where the losing QB, Drew Brees, out-passed the winning QB, Russell Wilson, 309 yards to 103. But understand that in that stadium, with the elements like they were, a 16-0 Seattle lead is big enough for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to coach conservatively.

The Saints didn't score until the 4th quarter, so why risk passing when the Seattle run game and defense is so well? Speaking of Wilson, he finished his sophomore season with a 26-9 TD-Int ratio, a 101.2 passer rating, and over 500 yards rushing. He's a real good football player.

3) Marques Colston must have had a flashback to 8th grade gym class and Flickerball.


4) After having a career defining play last week with his Superman TD, Andrew Luck threw four interceptions this week against the Pats. That's 7 in two playoff games after throwing only 9 picks all season for Luck. Maybe he'll think twice about the playoff beard next year.

5) I started watching the San Diego vs Denver game rooting against the Broncos. It was hard enough cheering for Philip Rivers, but then the divaesque display of "look at me" from Chargers wide out Keenan Allen completely turned me off from them.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Is there a bigger douchebag move in all of sports than pointing at the back of your jersey after doing something?</p>&mdash; Lester A Wiltfong Jr (@wiltfongjr) <a href="">January 13, 2014</a></blockquote>

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6) Speaking of Philip Rivers, I'll just put this right here...

7) San Francisco 49ers wide out Anquan Boldin was a bit chippy during his 8 catch 136 yard day. I was a little surprised the refs let him mouth off so much, and even more surprised his mini headbutt didn't draw a flag.

FOX play by play man Joe Buck tried to get topical and mention Ric Flair when Boldin delivered his headbutt, but if Buck had a clue, he would have know the headbutt was never a big part of Flair's repertoire.

8) I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the two Championships this Sunday. I'm sure we'll have "Brady vs Manning" get the over-hype treatment, and we'll have to endure hearing how "Niners - Seahawks" is the best rivalry in the NFL, but the games themselves should be awesome.

9) You may have missed this, but Chicago Bears right guard Kyle Long was named to the SBN All Rookie team.

Kyle Long had an inconsistent rookie season but flashed often enough to make this list. The Bears have to hope the Kyle Long from early in the season is the one they'll get moving forward. Long was far from a finished product coming into the league, so for him to play as well as he did at times was encouraging.

10) One more Bears related item from SBN, here's their latest mock draft.

14. Chicago Bears - Ra'shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota: Ra'shede Hageman has the talent to go in the top 10 come May. At this point, it was tough to find a spot for him given the lack of need at defensive tackle. Hageman makes a ton of sense for the Bears, though. Injuries played a role in the decline of Chicago's run defense this season, but a lack of depth was exposed. Hageman would help fix that.

For those of you hoping for a move to a 3-4 defensive front or a 4-3/3-4 hybrid next year, this pick would fit that bill. Hageman is a 6'6" 311 pound defensive tackle that is athletic enough to line up as a 5 Technique 3-4 defensive end.

10a) FYI... I'll drop my thoughts on the Bears assistant coaching changes later today.