PC: I’m writing this on Christmas morning, and I’m deeply regretting not buying any Bearaphernalia for my cat, Genghis. He is quite fond of a Bears cap of mine to the point that his fur is woven into the fibers of its being. He’s a larger cat, but the hat is just way to big for him. His birthday isn’t until September, so I may have to buy him something to celebrate the Bears’ first playoff win.
JB: Your cat needs a James “Big Cat” Williams #71 jersey right and I think the playoff game is enough of an occasion to splurge. I’d be happy to contribute if you can find one.
PC: A cat-sized James Williams jersey is a product the world needs. I think we need to work with the NFL on allowing a shop of highly-necessary currently-unavailable Bearaphernalia products. This would include the regular-cat-sized Big Cat jersey, a holiday sweater with exactly 85 bears on it, and a pair of receiver gloves that make a bear when you put your hands up to catch a ball instead of the C.
I trust your holidays are going well, so I’ll just ask a question. Is there a holiday song better than Wham!’s Last Christmas, excluding covers of Wham!’s Last Christmas?
JB: Not only does Wham! lay claim to one of the most compelling holiday songs, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go played during the freak gasoline fight accident scene in Zoolander, a personal favorite. You won’t find me taking any cheap shots at Wham! despite their... 80’s-ness.
Speaking of cheap shots, the Bears finish the regular season against cheap-shot artist Harrison Smith and the Minnesota Vikings with a chance to end another divisional foe’s playoff chances. The Bears hold an outside chance of claiming the #2 seed with a win and a Rams loss. For me, that’s more than enough to go full out and try to win this one. A win would give the Bears 12 and fulfill your preseason prediction too.
PC: I’m all for going in it to win “it.” Nabbing the 2-seed doesn’t only mean a first-round bye, it means home field in the divisional round. Good luck playing these Bears in the playoffs at home. Having said that, if the Rams surge ahead of the 49ers (let’s say 14 points ahead with possession) then I would flip strategies. Bench the offensive stars, and on defense focus solely on defending the pass with excessive blitzing. The goal would be to lose, but break Kirk Cousin’s spirit in the process. Then welcome the Vikings to Soldier Field as they try to beat the Bears a second week in a row with a broken quarterback.
JB: I’m warming to your idea of crushing the spirit of Captain Kirk, but I think we can break him enough in week 17 for it to last into next year and move on to working our way through the rest of the league. Weird things can happen playing a divisional opponent for the 3rd time and I think the Bears matchup well against the Eagles. That’s my preferred wildcard match if the Bears can’t capture the #2 seed.
PC: Before we jump to the playoffs, we should say something about the Bears’ Santa Clara vacation. What’d you think of Biscuit?
JB: Watching the game unfold, I thought Biscuit was playing fine besides that one major gaffe. I was surprised to see his completion percentage as high as it was with only the two TDs, but it seems Nagy had a conservative gameplan. Overall, the game flow felt like an old school field position game and he did just enough to win. That’s probably where he’s at in his development right now: he does just enough to win. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve seen enough good things from him to believe in the future, and I’m very excited to see what he looks like in year two of the Nagy offense. Whatever happens in the playoffs is going to be good for his development.
On the flip side, this game served as my annual reminder of just how much I miss Robbie Gould. I hoped that somehow Robbie would stowaway on the team plane and just wear Parkey’s jersey the rest of the year. I mean honestly, how close do you really look at the kicker’s face? Does anyone really know what Cody Parkey looks like? I think we could get away with it... Seriously though, upgrading the kicker position has to be up there on the priority list in the offseason, but Parkey is our guy for now. That’s probably my biggest concern headed forward.
Truly, there’s not much more that we could’ve hoped for in the regular season so let’s look ahead to the playoffs. How much is it going to anger the national media narrative when the Bears play the Ravens in the Super Bowl?
PC: A Bears vs. Ravens Superbowl would be a delightful pie in the face to media hot-heads everywhere as well as the overzealous analytics dogmatists who have been telling us the run game is Neanderthal buffoonery. Could it be that defense still matters in the pass-happy offensive utopia that was supposed to be the 2018 NFL? Could it be that some rudimentary univariate analyses revealing that passing was infinitely better than running didn’t capture the whole story?
JB: The Bears do still have to win a few more games to make the Superbowl. Is there a team in the NFC that worries you more than the others?
PC: I feel like I should say playing the Saints in the Superdome, but I’m optimistic that the Bears’ linebackers can disrupt the Saints short passing game and get them out of rhythm much like the Cowboys did. The Cowboys are actually the team that worries me most. Not because I think they are the best or the most likely to beat the Bears, but because they are the team that would be the most embarrassing and obnoxious to lose to.
Before the season started, my hope was to get to the playoffs, win a playoff game, and leave the season hungry for next year. Obviously you have to take your shot when the opportunity arises, but from a long-term fan-joy perspective, winning the Super Bowl this year would just be too much too soon and next season would be wracked with anxiety over whether the Bears could live up to ridiculously-high standards. My preference is to count our blessings this season, then come back and win the next two.
JB: Cowboys fans are the worst (non-Packers category) but that game would be in Soldier for the NFC Championship and I’ll gladly put up with terrible Cowboys coverage for that honor. I was at the Rams-Saints game in NOLA earlier this year and as good as both teams are, they can be contained by a great defense. Beating both on the road in consecutive weeks would be an amazing feat, and that’s why the script is setting up for a potentially magical January. So, let’s find Genghis that Big Cat jersey and settle in for an exciting ride.