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Blue: In each of the last couple weeks the Blue Report has mentioned a certain level of dislike for those that would speak ill of the 2010 version of the Chicago Bears. Many of these so-called fans talked of the need for wholesale changes starting with the firings of Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith, which then somehow leads to a magical upgrading of talent across the board for years to come. But to make this happen, the 8-3 division-leading Bears would need to be losing games so that we can hope for this trip to happy land to begin sooner rather than later.
Though a season of losing football after a strong start would make for a great way to spend Sundays in the fall, this Blue Kool-Aid drinker thinks that watching the Bears play like they did versus the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12 is a bit more positive in the area of entertainment.
Beating what had be considered the hottest quarterback in the NFL might not have been as fun and exciting as watching a team unravel over the second half of a season, but I personally prefer victory over defeat. But I'm one of those crazy White Sox fans that likes having a team that won a World Series in my lifetime, so what do I know?
After a rough patch the offense appears to have figured out a simple formula for victory: run, pass, kick when necessary and don't turn the ball over.
Though many might believe that a strong-armed agile quarterback paired with a former Offensive Rookie of the Year as his running back is a bad thing, it appears that positive things can occur if you give that offense two of the fastest wideouts to ever run the 40 at the draft combine.
Mix in a 6'5" tight end who can catch-and-run, throw in a legitimate possession receiver and find ways to create a passable offensive line that can create a few big holes for the run and keep the quarterback breathing, and there you have the Bears offense.
It's still a work in progress for sure, but with Jay Cutler keeping the idiot throws to a minimum and Matt Forte showing flashes of his former brilliance more and more often, it is exciting to see the development of Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox and even Devin Hester at receiver.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears held every puppy's nightmare to a very good, but not PlayStation-like game. Not only did a combination of a relentless inside and outside pass rush keep Vick from bombing away with deep passes to the dual threat of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but the linebacking corps was able to contain Scooby's nemesis to a pedestrian 44 yards on 9 carries.
Additionally, with the Eagles driving deep into Bears territory while the game was still tight, a ball tipped by Brian Urlacher led to Chris Harris getting the first Vick interception of the season. Bend but don't break might just work for this team.
A merging of speed in pursuit, a push on the defensive line coming from both inside and outside, with a no-name DB group, has made this a top-five defense, though many would have preferred for opponents be crushing this team. But again, Sox fan, I'd rather they keep winning.
Bears at Lions
Though the Blue Kool-Aid in me screams that this game should be a walk in the park after having to deal with the Eagle, there is a sip of the Orange that screams trap game. A hot team traveling to play a team that is basically already eliminated and might be starting their third-string quarterback sounds like a time for an emotional let-down. However, this team is riding high, walking with a swagger and will want to show that the first meeting of these teams wasn't won via luck alone. Okay, luck definitely helped, but so did Calvin "Megatron" Johnson's not following a rule that at least a few people now understand.
Bears 27, Lions 10.
Orange: The Bears, Eagles, Packers, Giants, Saints, Buccaneers and Falcons are vying for five playoff spots. The worst record among those seven teams is 7-4 and they all have five games remaining.
It's like the setup for a terrible joke.
Two birds, a giant bear, a priest and a pirate walk into a bar and the bartender says, "Get the hell outta here!"
On Sunday, the Bears put themselves on the right side of a tie-breaker against one of those teams: The Philadelphia Eagles.
The 31-26 victory wasn't as close as the final score indicated. It took an improbable late touchdown pass between PETA executive Michael Vick and forgotten tight end Brent "Magnum T.E." Celek, to pull the Eagles within a single score.
We learned a few things about the Bears in this victory, most notably:
* The Devin Hester screen pass works only in months that contain blue moons.
* Matt Forte is really fast for 10 yards and then he becomes . . . very . . . slow . . . for the next 40.
* Jay Cutler is a fiery leader now. Screw the four touchdowns he threw after being sacked four times again. Did you see how much he yelled?
* Fox analyst Daryl "Moose" Johnston is The Riddler.
All positives, especially unmasking a mythical Batman villain, but mixed in with the good things were a number of breaks that went the Bears way . . . this time.
* Jay Cutler threw some dangerous passes that didn't get picked off, most notably Greg Olsen's third-quarter touchdown.
* Soldier Field's field consists mostly of un-hoed corn crops and divot sod from local golf courses. No opponent is prepared for this, apparently because other NFL teams do not supply longer cleats. Good news for home games, but this doesn't bode well for a road playoff game.
* As we've seen in the past, 14 carries does not always equal 117 yards for Matt Forte. This time it did.
The Bears might be winning ugly lately, but there's not such thing as "winning wrong" or "losing right."
Can they keep it up?
Losses to the Redskins and Seahawks indicate that the long term answer is "No," and a loss this Sunday to the Lions would seem to validate that claim. Time will tell.
Are we to believe that this squad is good enough to make a deep playoff push?
The scary thing is, this year they might be but they must beat Detroit, both because the Lions play about 25 minutes of good football and the fact that a team's divisional record factors heavily into the NFL's playoff tie-breaking formula.
If the Bears win three of their final five games, they could legitimately get a first-round bye as the NFC's number two seed behind the Atlanta Falcons (currently 9-2 with a cupcake schedule remaining).
Let's hope it goes down this way, because if they finish 10-6 and capture a fifth seed, they're playing on the road in the first round against either the Seahawks or Rams; two trap road games to be sure.
A bear and a goat walk into a dome and for no good reason, the bear dies.
Bears at Lions
This is the last gimme on the schedule . . . which is why they will lose.
The match-ups in the secondary favor Cutler, Chicago's renewed commitment to the run will help mitigate a respectable Detroit front seven and the Bears special teams unit rivals almost any in history.
For some reason, none of this will matter because Mike Martz will call for 15 plays in which Devin Hester is the first read.
Call it hubris, call it vengeance, call it Lovie; these are the kinds of games that this regime historically finds a way to lose.
Calvin Johnson gets 14 grabs for 150-plus yards and two scores; Vanilla Vick (Jay Cutler) gets cocky and loses at least one fumble while buying time with his feet.
Detroit 24, Bears 20.
Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.