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Ten Thoughts on the NFL and the Bears

Your regularly scheduled writer needed a break, so you’re stuck with me.

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

1) I get the frustration after the Bears lost their second consecutive game but I think there needs to be some perspective:

How many people can honestly say they marked down the Patriots game as a win before the season? Be honest, if you have a receipt, post it, because I find it hard to believe many did. The Patriots have been the class of the league for going on 20 years, so how upset can you get when it was a game you already expected to lose?

2) The second part of this is: I get the frustration with Mitch Trubisky’s ups and downs, especially when his accuracy isn’t where it’s expected to be for a QB with that supposed strength, but can we talk about the defense for a minute?

How many times in Bears history have fans been upset at the offense for scoring 31 points and losing? I mean, seriously. I get that the rules are all geared towards the offense and the scoring has never been higher, but the Bears should be able to win games with the offense putting up 28 and 31 points, as they have the last week.

Yes, 14 of those points Sunday came against special teams, but that is part of defense as well (look at your fantasy team, it’s rolled into one).

The offense has done its part to get the team into position to win, but the defense is getting burned a little too much.

3) Let’s turn to Patrick Mahomes for a minute. I understand everyone is hyped on the kid and I admit, he has become must-watch TV for me. What the Chiefs are doing is unreal and absolutely a blast to watch.

I get that there will always be comparisons with him and Mitch, since they were in the same draft class and both had a lot of question marks around them.

Mahomes had a full year, under an offensive minded staff, using the same system, to acclimate to the NFL. Trubisky is going to be fine and I think in another couple of years, we’ll be looking back at the QB class of 2017 and wondering why scouts thought that it was such a “down year” for QBs.

Mahomes wouldn’t have panned out had he been drafted by the Bears. I staunchly believe that. He went to the perfect spot for him and got a season to watch, learn and break down NFL defenses. He also had a lot more experience in college.

Mitch is on the right track, we’re seeing that. In their last three games, Mahomes has eight TDs and 5 INTs, while Mitch has 11 TDs and 3 INTs. The highs and lows are there, but sometimes you have to dive a little deeper.

4) The Bears relinquished their first place standing in the NFC North Sunday, as the Vikings won to move to 4-2-1. Most pundits believed that the Vikings were the class of the division and the team to beat and despite a couple ugly losses and their tie with the Packers, they’ve leveled out and won three in a row.

Their road doesn’t necessarily get easier, with the 5-1 Saints coming to town on Sunday night. Then they face the Lions before going into their bye week. After the bye, though, they come to Chicago, host Green Bay, go to New England and go to Seattle. that’s a tough November.

5) Part of the Vikings success has been the steady play of Kirk Cousins. who has a league-high 210 pass completions to go with 14 TDs and just 3 INTs. Adam Thielen is playing out of his mind (on pace for an unfathomable 153 receptions and nearly 1,900 yards) and Latavius Murray has re-surged to a 4.8 YPC average. The Vikings might not be able to count on Dalvin Cook as much as they have wanted, but they’re still clicking.

6) Elsewhere in the division, the Packers are coming off their bye week with a big road trip out to Los Angeles to play the Rams.

For those that like a little action on the games, the Packers are big road underdogs, by as much as 9.5 at some books. Granted, the Rams are going to test the Packers’ defense, something says Rodgers isn’t going to let it turn into too much of a blow out.

If that wasn’t a tough enough match up, they the Packers turn around and travel to play the Patriots in New England after the Rams.

Needless to say there isn’t going to be a lot of sympathy for them around here.

7) The final team in the NFC North, the Lions, have now won two in a row, on either side of their bye week to get to .500 on the season. The Lions did what the Bears could not and defeated Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins in Miami. They come to Chicago in two weeks, but first play the Seahawks at home and go to Minnesota.

The Bears play the Lions twice in a span of 11 days in November. I think it’s time for the Bears to exorcise some of their recent demons against the Lions. Can the Bears get a season sweep? It won’t be easy, for sure, especially with the Lions actually having a formidable running game.

8) The Raiders made another news wave yesterday when they traded two-time Pro Bowl receiver and former fourth overall pick Amari Cooper to the Cowboys for a 2019 first round draft pick.

Now most questioned the Cowboys giving up that kind of capital for Cooper, who has been good but great or dominant, but the other side is that now Jon Gruden has three first round picks in the draft.

I think the only one that will be in the top ten is the Raiders’ own pick, while Chicago’s will likely be in the 12-19 range and the Cowboys will be outside the top 10 as well.

Could the Raiders unload Derek Carr and look to move up for a QB that is firmly Gruden’s Guy? Or will he spend his picks on other positions and work with Carr, or slip back to his old M.O. of trying to get the most out of a journeyman QB?

9) Much has been made of Tom Brady’s success at age 41 and what Patrick Mahomes is doing in his first full season as a starter, with a league-leading 22 TDs, but getting a little bit overlooked is 39-year-old Drew Brees.

Not only does he lead the league in completion percentage at 77.3 percent, but he also joined 500-touchdown passes club Sunday. Since it wasn’t a nationally televised game, like it was when he achieved the all-time pass completion record, or when Brady reached No. 500 just a couple weeks ago, I feel like it got overlooked a little bit.

Brees has those achievements going for him and, after six games, has yet to throw an interception. That’s right, 13 TDs and a big ol’ goose egg in the INT line. In fact, he has no turnovers, he fumbled against the Falcons, but fell on top of it.

Including his two rushing TDs, he’s accounted for 15 touchdowns and zero turnovers.

10a) Looking ahead to the Bears this Sunday, they host the New York Jets.

For those that like to look at the Vegas numbers, or bet themselves, the Bears are currently favored by a touchdown against Sam Darnold and Co. The O/U is sitting at 46, both numbers courtesy of Bovada.

The Jets have been frisky, beating Denver and Indianapolis at home and, of course, surprising the Lions in Week 1 at Ford Field.

I’ve been making picks and analysis on the Bears for Sports Bet Collective, a start up that’s geared for fans that want to bet their favorite team. Not to toot my own horn (but rooty toot toot), I’m 5-1 picking the Bears, including 3-0 picking the O/U.

My official SBC pick isn’t due until Wednesday, but my early lean is to the Bears and the under, but I have a lot more research to do.

10b) With half league closing in on eight games played, I count exactly half of the league either at or within a game of .500.

It’s no wonder football has survived its various existential crises of the last couple of years, every year is full of surprises and a genuine feeling that any one can win any week. There is just one unbeaten team still standing (Rams) and they are the only team with a four-game division lead.

It’s going to be another exciting November and December (yes, there is still another football week in October but this space will be turned back over to Lester by then so I wanted to look ahead while I had the platform).

Sure, our Bears have struggled, but they have two winnable games and a real shot at being in the “relevant” conversation come Thanksgiving and it’s been YEARS since that happened.

Enjoy it, folks.