The Chicago Bears don't get a lot of time celebrate their NFC North championship. With a short week before the New York Jets come to town and the number two seed in the playoffs still on the line, it's back to business for the Bears. And the Jets are a hard team to read.
They say everything is bigger in Texas. I don't know if that's true, but one thing no one around the NFL will disagree with is this: everything's louder in New York. That's true of the city, it's true of their sports fans, and it's definitely true of the head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan.
Rex Ryan has a boisterous personality, he's loud, brash, and full of swagger. His love of smash-mouth football was learned at the feet of his father, Buddy Ryan, the architect of the 85 Bears '46' defense and a tough guy in his own right. His strengths as a head coach may be inherited from his father, but so is his most glaring weakness.
Rex Ryan is going to go for it.
Ryan and his Jets don't believe in subtlety; they come at you with a street-fighter mentality. There's not a lot of subtlety in their playbook, and given the choice of going over you or around you, they'll always pick the former. It's a good attitude to bring to a football team, if you're really tough enough to back it up.
But are the Jets really that good?
Their record suggests that they are, as do their wins against the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. But in their last three games, they've only mustered a total of 31 points. And after losing to the Jets early in the season, the Pats destroyed them 45-3, in their last meeting.
The Jets are gliding into town on the momentum of their 22-17 victory over the Steelers, convinced they're back in the drivers seat. But it would be more accurate to say they survived the Steelers. They almost let that game slip away in the final seconds, giving Ben Roethlisberger a couple of chances to complete a pass in the end zone.
The Chicago Bears are similar to the Jets, at least on paper. The records are the same, the defensive philosophies both are predicated on daring you to beat them.
The main difference is that the Bears, like their head coach Lovie Smith, don't talk a lot about it. They just do it.
This should be a great game, a real down-and-dirty battle. Both of these teams have something to play for; the Bears want that first round bye, and the Jets need to keep winning just to get in the playoffs.