The Chicago Bears absolute domination of the Jaguars this past week included many good signs for the Bears such as the defense continuing to put up points, Cutler and Marshall continuing to improve together, and Matt Forte being back at full strength. But there were a few things from the game to worry about. Gabe Carimi’s unfortunate habit of drawing penalty flags, as well as Alshon Jeffery’s injury were the main issues, but these should both be remedied with time. Now let’s look forward to the upcoming week of NFL action.
The casual Chicago Bears fan might be under the impression that this week’s bye means that Sunday will be reserved for church going and barbecuing, but not so fast. There are several games this week that Bears fans should be watching which will have a huge impact on the Bears going forward. While the outcomes of these games are important as far as the standings go, there is much more to pay attention to than who wins and loses.
1) Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans, 8:20 PM ET Sunday, October 14
This will be the game that reveals whether the Packers are the team that shredded defenses all the way to a Super Bowl and a 15-1 record, or the team that blew an 18 point lead to the albeit inspired but inexperienced Colts. Aaron Rodgers has publicly said that he is not living up to expectations so far this year, and the easiest way for him to turn that around is to come out and dominate the undefeated Texans. Aside from Rodgers’ performance, much attention should be paid to the Packers defense. It appeared week two against the Bears that the defense had righted the ship from last year; however last weeks collapse in Indianapolis showed otherwise. If Rodgers comes out and plays like an MVP and the defense gets in Matt Schaub’s face and forces a few turnovers than the entire NFC should be warned not to count the Pack out just yet.
2) Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 PM ET Sunday, October 14
The reasoning behind including this game on the list is two fold. First, as much as everyone would like to say that the Lions are done for, no team that has Calvin Johnson and that explosive offense can be counted out after playing just four games. The Lions defense is often pointed to as the reason they won’t win this year, but they rank in the top 13 in the league in both opponent pass yards and opponent rush yards so far this season. Everyone knows they can throw the ball, but if the Lions can come out and get Mikel Leshoure going on the ground then the Bears, as well as the rest of the league, should take notice. The second reason for including this game is the possibility that the Bears will be fighting the Eagles for a wild card spot. Turnovers have been the key for Mike Vick and the Eagles this season and it will be worth it to see if the fierce front four of the Lions can pressure Vick into some poor decisions.
3) New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 PM ET Sunday, October 14
While neither of these teams are in the NFC North, they will both be in the NFC playoff picture come December. It will be interesting to see if last years Super Bowl champs can hang with the physicality the 49ers play with, especially if Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul continue their lackluster play. Even more important to watch than the X’s and O’s of this game is the way that these two teams carry themselves on the field and deal with adversity. Both these teams had success in the postseason last year, so much so that a muffed punt in overtime decided which team earned a trip to the Super Bowl. The key to both of their success can be seen in the way they work together, especially when things aren’t going well. As anyone who has been watching the Bears this season knows, teamwork and dealing with adversity are not the team’s strong suits. This must improve if the team hopes to get to where the Giants and 49ers were last year, and what better way to gauge that improvement than watching these two heavyweights go head to head.