One of these two men might not play Sunday. The other definitely will, but might not play any more games after that.
Well, if any Bears fans (or maybe some confused Lions fans who somehow don't despise the Bears) ever stumble across this thing, I just want to say that I hope you've enjoyed the last several weeks. It's been really cool watching this team steamroll the living piss out of hapless bums like the Cowboys, Titans, and Jaguars, and it sure is cool seeing TV types bringing up memories of the '85 team and even the Grossman-ruined '06 team. But the fun times are over; I hope you realize that. Because from this point out, there's only one true tomato can left on the schedule, and that's not until the Cardinals in week sixteen. Every other team left on the schedule can beat the Bears, a division title is going to be harder than anyone wants to admit, the playoffs aren't a certainty, and I'm guessing a 15-1 finish is about as likely as me jumping flat-footed across the goddamn Pacific. Because the second half of the schedule is going to suck ass, and they've saved the worst part for first.
Oh sweet Christ.
It's like all the worst possible nightmares all hitting at once. Jay Cutler seems to save his worst games for prime time, and Wade Phillips has already come right out and said that Brandon Marshall is getting double-teamed on every play. The second part is really bad, because Cutler has made no secret so far that he's pretty much ready to throw it to Marshall on every play, regardless of what the coverage situation is. Not to mention that even with new dudes in charge, the Bears just ignored the offensive line again this last off-season, and this leaves 2012's leading mega-destroyer J.J. Watt up up against Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb all night, and hoooo-leeee shit, that is terrifying. Webb is only not the league's worst lineman because I'm pretty sure Frank Omiyale didn't die at any point this year, and the only reason Carimi isn't developing a similar reputation is because he gets a stupid holding penalty every time a defensive end blows past him for a would-be sack. So Watt comes into the game on pace to be over twenty sacks by the end of the year, and if Mike Tice doesn't figure out some creative ideas to keep him out of the backfield, he might hit that by the third quarter. And yeah, I do realize how ridiculous it sounds to mention Mike Tice and the concept of these things called "ideas" in the same sentence, because the dude's never had any. So you've got the NFL's most destructive force with only the NFL's worst five guys at preventing destruction between him and Cutler's cervical vertebrae, and OH GOD COBRAS.
You know, he's turning out to not be so good at the American football, but I will say that Gabe Carimi is one goddamn handsome man.
And yeah, all the analyst types I keep reading keep mentioning how important it'll be for the Bears to establish the run, so the Texans won't just be able to tee off on Cutler all night, but if they even think that's a remote possibility, they've clearly not been actually watching any football games this year. Because you know what, Matt Forte rules, and everyone knows it. Even in situations of complete shithouse blockingm, he's got the moves to escape, and I seriously think the Texans would have a harder time stopping him than the Bears will have stopping Arian Foster. But you see, it doesn't matter, because Chicago Bear logic defies regular football logic. In regular football logic, you get the running game going, this puts the defense on its heels, and all of a sudden you just throw it way the hell downfield, and they don't know what hit them, and it's great. In Chicago Bear logic, you start to get the running game going, then just abandon it altogether, even though someone just ran in another fumble and you're up by twenty. So the Texans have nothing to fear from Chicago's running game, because even if they start getting gashed by it early in the first quarter, by the middle of the second, the Bears will revert to "pass, pass, pass, punt" Martz-ball. So even if you've got your star running back who just made a Pro Bowl and signed a huge contract in a groove, he might as well not even be in the game, and it's time to just blitz Cutler's ligaments off. This instills him with The Fear and makes him just chuck it to Marshall on every play, because he's the only competent non-Forte out there most of the time, and Mark Schlereth cackles with glee as the sacks and interceptions mount.
This is his O-face.
Notice, I haven't mentioned the defense much, because there's not much need to. The Chicago Bears have been a blisteringly evil force of devastation on that side of the ball all year, and are pretty much more of a scoring threat than the offense at this point. And sure, the Texans are a real football team, so it won't be anything even resembling the Music City Massacre, but they'll do their job. If last week is any indicator, Urlacher is finally back from last year's knee injury, and man, I don't even know what to say about Charles Tillman. Dude has been completely goddamn nuts this year, to the point where you don't even notice that the guy opposite him already has six interceptions. So barring an early child birth that makes him skip the game, if Tillman plays, Andre Johnson basically doesn't. And the Bears are a team with enough power up front to get pressure without blitzing and stop the run without bringing linebackers to the line, so I think even a team as good as Houston is (and yeah, it seriously is still bizarre to think of them as any good) is going to have trouble getting anything done offensively tonight. Looking back, though, I seriously wish it had been the Bears instead of the Texans who had drafted Whitney Mercilus. I think one of the main reasons I haven't been as active here as recent years is because I burned myself out pre-draft thinking of all the shit that could be said about a dude with such a killer last name. But instead of Whitney the Merciless, a mysterious warrior from a far-away land whose eyes see only death and whose hands make it so, we ended up with Shea McClellin, good ol' Wee Baby Sheamus, biding his time being kind of okay, I guess, but fourth on the depth chart until his rookie contract runs out and he can go be awesome for some 3-4 team, possibly even the Texans. Stupid football.
LEFT: Shea McClellin. RIGHT: Whitney Mercilus.
Anyway, I'm going to come right out and say a win tonight is highly unlikely, but not completely hopeless. More than anything, the Bears have to find a way to score first. Because the Bears always abandon the run for no reason, but they do it more slowly when they're in the lead. And the less often the Bears have to pass, the better, because I get the feeling that mostly bad things will happen that way. Get Forte going, and instead of saying, "welp, don't want him to get tired, better throw nine straight to Marshall," just use the other guy you gave a ton of money to, because he's not a complete asshole, you know. If the Bears are forced to pass all day (or choose to) they will lose. If they can run with any sort of regularly, they only might lose. This is hard-hitting analysis, people. On defense, just keep doing your thing, man. Just make absolutely sure that Mrs. Tillman manages to keep her water unbroken until Monday morning, or Kelvin Hayden gets the start, which is a diplomatic way of saying the phrase "all is lost." If the Bears can keep Houston under 20 points, there's a shot, because even if this is one of those "oh god, they can't find Cutler's lower half" games, they still usually manage to accidentally score a couple times. But even as a dude who pretty much has bad feelings about any game the Bears play, this one is giving me more of them than usual.
PREDICTION: Bears 13, Texans 27.