As Thursday night’s sun is beginning to set on the lovely city of wind that is Chicago, Illinois, the Bears are looking straight in the face of not what would be a called a “must-win” game but rather something I call a “better not lose if you know what’s good for you” game.
What’s the difference between a “must-win” versus a “better not lose if you know what’s good for you” game? Besides the obvious difference of one statement being a direct threat, it’s way too early in the season for any team not named Jacksonville (or the New York Giants) to have a must-win game.
I’ve never been one to subscribe to the media meat heads who throw catastrophic terms around without consequence to get eyeballs. If the Bears lose I won’t jump off of the ledge yet for the 2013-2014 season, however the term “better not lose if you know what good for you” phrase is a good one (especially if you channel your inner James Earl Jones impersonation).
For anyone who watches Da Bears as intently as I do, you know that the last two games were just as big, and probably bigger, on their early schedule than the Bengals win. Both the Lions and the Saints are playoff contenders and NFC foe. Wins against those teams look huge down the stretch in November and December. Losses are simply games that will count against them down the stretch and cause pain.
However, none will look worse under the microscope than an in-conference loss to the 0-5 Giants this early in the season. With that being, as game time nears, here are a few key nuggets to pay attention to heading into tonight at Soldier Field:
- Bears need to win tonight to add the necessary cushion to the schedule. Forecasting to the Bears month of December, their last four games are looking to be must-win games for their opponents (vs. Dal, @ Cleveland (haha), @ Philadelphia vs. Green Bay) meaning a win will come much harder than it will tonight.
- Last year’s Thursday night game saw Jay Cutler throw four interceptions in an awful week two loss to Green Bay. The last time Jay played the NYG he was 8-11 for 42 yards, 1 interceptions, took 9 sacks and accounted for 0 points. Jay is also 2-3 on Thursday night football. Every year Jay has 2-4 awful games and they usually come during primetime; tonight cannot be one of those games.
- What will the Bears do at Defensive Tackle? There is a lot of hype in my inner-circle regarding Zach Minter. Small school kid with the unusual circumstance to make a feel good story is what I smell. Minter had a great preseason and has a shot to make a name for himself tonight. Will Stephen Paea prove to be healthy? Lord please help us…
- Enough with the Brandon Marshall hate alright? Anyone else sick of hearing Chicago media talk about Marshall ‘spiriling out of control and the Bears will look to get rid of him’ after this season? Look Alshon Jeffery had an awesome week 5 and has a good season, but this is classic hit them when they are down, crown them when they are high. Marshall averages 70.5 ypg on Thursday night, however, look for him to be targeted early, often and dominate tonight’s game without green shoes.
- Martellus Bennett (questionable) will not miss tonight’s game against his former opponent. Not only does Bennett know his former opponent best, Bennett has been held without a TD in the last three games after racking in 3 TDs in weeks 1 & 2. Look for Bennett to have at least 60 yards in the air with at least 1 TD tonight
- Finally, if you have the football eye, keep your eye on the offensive line throughout the game. Cutler probably has nightmares of the Giants defensive line. With Mills, Long, Slauson & Bushrod bringing a new face to the line, it’s important to see how they handle the G-men’s greatest asset.
Predictions: Bears 24 Giants 14 (L)
Cutler – 24-34, 275 yards, 2 TDs 1 INT
Forte – 18 attempts, 85 yards rushing, 45 yards receiving 1 TD
Marshall – 9 catches, 121 yards 1 TD
Black Unicorn – 7 catches, 69 yards, 1 TD
Jeffery – 4 catches, 32 yards