After the first quarter, the division may look upside down to some, but the Bears did exactly what they had to do through four games.
Bears: 3-1 Tied for First
How they got here:
The Bears took care of the two teams they were supposed to beat in the Colts and Rams at home. They lost a game they were suppose to lose at Green Bay and dominated a coin flip game on the road against the Cowboys. The defense has lead the way in three out of the four games. After an offensive explosion versus the Colts, the defense has carried the load the rest of the way. The “aging” defense held the Rams to 160 total yards, kept the Packers at bay despite all the turnovers from their offense and picked off Tony Romo five times.
Jay Cutler has been inconsistent, but when he has been good, he has been great like weeks one and four. Brandon Marshall is exactly the game changing number one wideout he was hyped to be. The passing game has shown signs of what it can be when everybody is clicking and the offensive line is giving Cutler enough time.
The defensive line has exceeded all expectations to this point. The front four has 15 sacks which is one behind the Bengals and Cardinals for the league lead. Henry Melton has been a disruptive force and one of the best defensive tackles in the league through four games. He is second at his position with four sacks and has taken out the quarterback 11 times in 19 career starts. The Cover 2 cannot do what it is designed to do without pressure from the front four and through the first quarter, Lovie Smith could not have asked for more.
The running game has yet to really get going. So far the ground attack has averaged just 3.4 yards a carry. Matt Forte going down against the Packers didn’t help the situation, but that is exactly why Michael Bush was brought in here. Forte’s 80 yards against the Colts in week one has been the highest output for either back through four games.
Yes this offense was suppose to become the next air show in the NFL, but they have too good of a duo at running back to have this output so far. Forte was held out of practice this week, but it looks like he will be good to go against the Jaguars. It’s no secret the Bears offense looks better with him in the lineup whether it’s running or making plays in the pass game. The Bears need a little more balance from Forte and Bush to become the elite offense people were hyping in the preseason.
A Look at the Next Quarter:
I would be disappointed if the Bears did not go into week nine 7-1. The schedule lines up perfectly for them to grab a hold of the division.
Despite having a one game lead, the Bears are currently +225 to win the NFC North. There is good value here and here’s why:
Next up is the Jaguars. This is an offense still scuffling. The running game has just been the middle of the pack, but the passing offense is 31st in the league. Blaine Gabbert has not delivered on his first round draft status and the offensive line has let him hit the ground 12 times already. This should be easy pickings for the Bears defense this week.
After that the Bears get a bye. Perfect timing to give Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Forte a break.
In week seven, the Bears will welcome in this year’s biggest bust, the Detroit Lions. The Lions sit at 1-3 and their already below average defense is all banged up. The league has decided to take away the deep stuff to Calvin Johnson and the offense has yet to make adjustments. At home in Chicago, this game shouldn’t be a problem.
To close out the second quarter, the Bears travel to Tennessee to face a struggling Titans squad. The Titans have yet to allow below 34 points and have been held under two touchdowns three out of four games. A sure fire recipe for a 1-3 start.
As I said, this is a team that should be 7-1 heading into the third quarter.
Too many quarter loveisms? I agree.
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