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Another game ball for the Bears’ Khalil Mack

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After their second win in six days, who received today’s game balls?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in six days, the Chicago Bears found themselves in the win column. Also for the second straight week, the win wasn’t pretty but somehow they find themselves in first place for the first time in almost five years.

The offense continues to struggle to gain traction, while the defense continues to play at an elite level. Not much changed from week 2, but the most important thing is another win early in the season against a conference opponent.

While there was more bad than good on Sunday — at least from my perspective — there was still enough to be excited about. The best news of all? The Bears are 2-1, and somehow in first place atop the NFC North. There’s always some joy to take out of that, even if it’s still very early in the season.

Let’s take a look at who earned the game ball on each side of the ball on Sunday.

OLB Khalil Mack

NFL: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in three games, Mack earns the game ball for the defensive unit. It’s been almost unbelievable how impactful the 27-year-old has been over the first three games of the season.

On Sunday, he continued his dominance with five tackles, three quarterback hits, two sacks and a forced fumble, which was his third of the season. On the year, Mack has four sacks, leads the league in quarterback pressures and has taken a borderline top 10 unit into elite status.

It was always a gamble giving up multiple picks, on top of making a player the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, yet I continue to wonder if he’s being paid enough.

A safe argument can be made that without Mack, this is a Bears team that is likely 0-3. That speaks to the impact that the former Raider has had so far on the young season.

As a team, the Bears have 14 sacks and eight turnovers. That’s hard to fathom at this point in time.

It’s also easy to credit a lot of the uptick in defensive production to Mack, who has been the best defensive player in the league.

Honorable Mention: CB Sherrick McManis

NFL: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This may come as somewhat of a surprise to some fans but after a key interception that led to a key field goal and a sack, McManis’ impact was a big one.

The special teams ace has seen his fair share of opportunities on defense in dime packages, usually as a blitzing corner but not many would have expected him to make a game changing interception in the third quarter.

Long story short, McManis more than earned his paycheck in Sunday’s win.

TE Trey Burton

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn’t a lot to like on the offensive side of the ball this week. The Bears ended up with 316 total yards but not many players truly stood out. In these types of situations, you have to get creative in looking for the good but it’s out there.

Enter Burton.

There’s no way around it. The Bears offense has not been good. Even so, Burton’s involvement in the offense continues to ramp up and it’ll be a key factor to why we see improvement from a struggling unit.

Burton is fresh off a four-year, $32 million deal, so one would expect his production to pick up eventually. Despite not having more than 350 yards in a single season, the former EaglesSuper Bowl star’s role in this team’s offense is a big one.

He finished the game with four catches for 55 yards, but it was how his catches came to be that was the big impact in Sunday’s win.

Here’s Burton’s big catches:

  • 14 yards at their own 10 yard line.
  • 25 yards to flip the field. Resulted in a field goal.

While it’s not exactly what you want on a weekly basis, Burton has eight catches and a touchdown over the last two games. His involvement in this brand new offense is only continuing to grow and should continue to do so over the course of the season. Better quarterback play should only help that.