For Bears fans, the next objective is simple. The Chicago Bears have to beat the New England Patriots if there is any hope in saving this season. Two of the National Football League’s most followed teams face off at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, in a game that promises to be an epic AFC versus NFC showdown.
The Chicago Bears versus New England Patriots game will broadcast a tale of two teams. The home team, the Bears, started off with a loss to a very beatable team in the Buffalo Bills, and never quite found their footing afterwards. The Chicago defense has been decimated by injury this season, and likely will not see the return of any of their missing starters from last week. Linebacker Lance Briggs and Corner Back Kyle Fuller are out for the game, and the Chicago Bears “D” does not look to be a force that will make Tom Brady’s offense “bear down.” This Bears team is now 3-4, and face an uphill battle. They will probably miss the NFC playoffs this year with no chance of coming close to catch up in the NFC North Division because of lights-out play by the Green Bay Packers, and resilient defensive performances by the Detroit Lions. Unless Marc Tressman decides to be a real head coach and start holding players accountable, puts a NFL-worthy offensive scheme together, and finds ways to get the ball into the hands of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, this team may be another let down after high expectations.
The home team in this game is the hot, and seemingly reborn, New England Patriots led by arguably the best quarterback in the game (still). New England started off rocky with a 2-2 record, but now sit at 5-2 and look like one of this year’s teams to beast. The advantage that the New England Patriots have over everyone else is that they still have Bill Belichick as their head coach, and Tom Brady as an active quarterback. The Patriots have been on a tear proving to doubters that Brady is not too old, the rest of the team is not too young, and that Belichick is not too out of touch to be a Super Bowl contender this year. The Patriots have put a lot of points on the board this year, and while their defense has not been dominant, it has done its job.
The Patriots have been on their “p’s and q’s,” but are as beatable as any team on any given night in an NFL season. Brady’s bunch has been hitting on all cylinders, but the Bears have to beat the New England Patriots in order to keep hope alive for this season. The Bears will take on New England in Foxboro, one of the toughest places in the NFL to walk away with a win, but Chicago has won all of its games this year on the road. The Chicago Bears have their backs to the wall right now, and could be poised to shock the NFL. Or they can show up as the same team that lost to the very bad Miami Dolphins 27-14.
The Chicago Bears are in the midst of a leadership issue and an identity crisis. The Chicago offense only ran the ball twice in the first half in their loss against the Miami Dolphins last week, which fans could consider unfavorable knowing that the Chicago Bears have one of the best running backs in the league in Matt Forte, as well as an improved offensive line. The Bears offense has been equally ineffective. Quarterback Jay Cutler is currently seventh in the league in passing yards, but that is where the superlatives come to a halt. Cutler has thrown seven picks, has lost the ball on numerous fumbles, taken multiple avoidable sacks, and has missed his target occasion upon occasion.
Looking at that leadership issue further, several Bears players argued and shouted at each other in frustration after their loss to Miami. Star wide receiver Brandon Marshall called out Cutler for his performance, and told reporters that the Bears record of 3-4 was “unacceptable.” All that Coach Tressman had to say about the incident is that guys were “expressing themselves” and that he did not know much about it. Throughout this roller-coaster of a season, Tressman at times has seemed to take on the role of a psychologist rather than a football coach. He has even initiated a “rotating captain” system so that multiple players get their turns leading the team. All these things done, and Tressman still has not figured out a way to get Marshall, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, more chances to get the ball in his hands.
The Chicago Bears are one of America’s favorite teams to root for, but this season may end up being a year of growth. Although Sunday’s list of games only mark the midway point in the NFL season, many fans feel the Chicago Bears have to beat the New England Patriots in order to have any shot at the playoffs. According to many at ESPN, the Bears are indeed a long shot to walk away with the victory, as odds have been listed as 12-1 against the Bears. According to the odds, the New England Patriots should win the game, essentially welcoming Chicago fans to focus their attention on the Bulls instead of the Chicago Bears if they want to cheer for a winning team.
Commentary by LaBaron Jackson