My Amour de ma Vie* (note: that's not us in the festive photo accompanying this post) was pleased when I told her the Bears were playing on Thursday Night Football last week, rather than the usual Sunday afternoon game. It meant we could get some early holiday shopping in over the weekend, without my having to be glued to the TV watching football. We did, too. We even had a nice lunch.
And we still managed to get home in time for me to see at least part of every game that was being played by teams that are still on the Bears schedule. Which in most cases, would suggest that I'm some kind of selfish, football-obsessed couch potato. But now that I'm writing about it,that means it wasn't just necessary, but almost a sacrifice on my part.
I can't help it, I'm a giver. There's a comment section below, if you feel the need to thank me. (Teams the Bears will still face are in italics.)
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings- This was, of course, the game of the greatest interest to Bears fans. It'd be nice to be able to say that Brett Favre and the Vikings were able to pull it together to win one at home. Sadly, that was not the case. Minnesota continued its slide, and the Vikings made Aaron Rodgers and the Packers look nearly unbeatable. That's not to say they are, but if they have any glaring weaknesses, the Vikes sure weren't exposing them. When the Bears face the Pack January 2 at Lambeau, it could very well be for all the marbles in the NFC North.
Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys- I didn't watch this one as closely as the Pack/Vikes, but I was there for the turning point; the blown call for a horse-collar tackle on Ndamukong Suh, when he took down Marion Barber by the hair. The Lions were trailing by three points, but were playing well and making a defensive stand. That call gave the Cowboys the ball on the five yard line, first-and-goal. After that play, the Lions were snake-bit, and it showed. You could almost see the life taken out of them in that moment. Teams that seem to get all the bad breaks, just get that dazed here-we-go-again look. Fans in Detroit know that look well. After that, the rout was on, and the Lions went down hard, 35-19.
New York Jets vs. Houston Texans: I turned to the channel that was showing the New England game, and they were showing the end of this one. I was pleased to see the Jets were behind the 4-5 Texans. I saw them earlier in the season get shut-out by Green Bay and thought, "Maybe they're not all that great, after all." Houston had just kicked a field goal with under a minute left to make it 27-23. Then Mark Sanchez and the Jets went 72 yards in 38 seconds for the game winning TD. Gulp.
New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts: What can you say about the Patriots? They are the most business-like team in the NFL. This game was billed as Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, but if that was the actual match-up, then Manning won, hands down. He had twice as many completions, and twice as many touchdown passes (four to Brady's two), and over two hundred yards more in the air. Brady is an All-Star, but he's not all there is to New England. Bill Belichick's team just knows how to win. The most advantageous thing I can think of to say after watching this, is thank heavens the Bears play them in Chicago, and Green Bay has to play them in Foxboro.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants- I have to confess, I couldn't stay tuned for all of this one. We had to switch over to the excellent HBO show Boardwalk Empire early on. Also, I still cringe a little when I see the Giants uniform, after the beating they handed Jay Cutler earlier this year. But I couldn't help notice that the Eagles defense was giving Michael Vick some short fields to work with. Also, he's not the only guy who can cover a lot of ground quickly on this team.
The Bears have said that they're not making a lot of changes on defense to scheme for Michael Vick. Even though he's an incredibly elusive runner, and is having a career year in the air, I think that's the way to go. The Eagles can beat you even without Vick's skills. They have other weapons, and keying too much on Vick will just get you beat by LeSean McCoy, or any number of other guys.
The Bears have their defense ready to take on all comers, and they challenge you to beat them. They know how dangerous a scrambling Vick can be, but the corners also know not to give up on their man until Vick has crossed the line of scrimmage. The Eagles have capitalized on some long completions, because defensive backs see Vick on the move and start coming in after him, leaving his receivers wide open.
So really, nothing I saw on Sunday, except the Minnesota Vikings and possibly the Detroit Lions, looked like an easy match-up for Chicago. We've got to go through the entire NFC North again, this time on the road. I'm thankful that Philly, New England, and the Jets have to come to Soldier Field.
And I'm thankful that the Bears seem to be peaking at just the right time. The team (specifically the offense) that lost to Seattle and Washington at home, wouldn't stand a chance with this schedule. But the team that came back from the bye week, has some real potential.
I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. And if your team is playing today? See you at the mall Sunday.
* Amour de ma Vie = Love of my Life. I'm well into my 40's now, and far too long in the tooth to have a 'girlfriend'. All of the other euphemisms sound equally ridiculous to me. Besides, using the French makes me sound suave and continental.
Au revoir, sportsfans.