Tag Archives: football

Game Preview: New York Giants at Chicago Bears

The Bears scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in Detroit in their come-from-behind victory over the Lions. After struggling for the first three quarters, Mitchell Trubisky fired three touchdown passes in the final quarter to secure the comeback.

They’ll be facing a Giants team that battled but didn’t have enough to overcome the Steelers in their season opener this past Monday night. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones threw two touchdowns but also had two interceptions, including a costly red-zone pick on a Giants 19-play drive. Saquon Barkley was held to six yards on 15 carries.

PREVIEW: GIANTS @ BEARS – SEPTEMBER 20, 2020 – 12:00 PM CT

Records: New York Giants (0-1); Chicago Bears (1-0)

Last Meeting: November 24, 2019 at Chicago – Bears 19 – Giants 14

Week 1 Results: Pittsburgh 26 @ NY Giants 16; Chicago 27 @ Detroit 23

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

Everything for the Giants offense starts and ends with Barkley. As he goes, so go the Giants. Barkley has had mixed results in his two prior meetings with the Bears, gaining 125 yards on 24 carries in a 2018 Giants victory in New York, while getting held to just 59 yards on 17 carries in last year’s loss in Chicago.

A strong game by Barkley will take the pressure off of Jones to have to win the game in the air. Jones is prone to turnovers the more he puts the ball in the air.  The Giants revamped offensive line struggled against the Steelers, surrendering three sacks and producing only 29 rushing yards.

The Bears rush defense was embarrassed last week in Detroit, as 35-year-old Adrian Peterson piled up 93 yards on just 14 carries for a 6.6 yards-per-carry average. If the Bears are missing nose tackle Eddie Goldman that significantly, they will be in for a long afternoon on the lakefront if Barkley can consistently get to the second level. Bears inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan will be critical in containing Barkley.

Look for the Giants to test Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson, to see if he can contain wideout Darius Slayton, who had six catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night. Johnson acquitted himself well in his first game as a professional, including a pass breakup in the end zone to seal the victory in Detroit.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

Will the real Mitch Trubisky please stand up, please stand up. It might be fair to say last week’s game in Detroit was quintessential Trubisky: mostly ineffective for the bulk of the game, then flashing for the final quarter to throw three perfect passes for touchdowns to lead the comeback.

That performance was a microcosm of his career; some good, mostly bad. As with the Jones and the Giants, Trubisky and the Bears offense will be aided by a strong running attack. The Bears rushed for 149 yards last week against the Lions, and they will look to continue that against a suspect Giants’ front line.

The Giants will counter with standout safety Jabrill Peppers, who plays in multiple spots on the Giants defense. He will look to disrupt things for Bears tight ends Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet in an attempt to deny Trubisky of those weapons.

Former Packer linebacker and Bears tormentor Blake Martinez signed with the Giants in the off-season, and had a strong opener, leading the Giants defense with eight tackles. Giants end Leonard Williams had one of the two sacks for the team Monday night, and he will look to put pressure on the Bears offensive line and Trubisky.

PREDICTION

The Bears defense, uncharacteristically muted in the opener against the Lions, will rebound with an all-around performance, and stymie the Giants rushing and passing attack. The Bears offense will continue to lean on their improved run game, and Trubisky will have a solid but safe outing.

Bears 24 – Giants 10

Premier League Preview: Fulham F.C.

<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code">The final team to be promoted to the EPL is a club run by an American businessman with a great, rags to riches story eager to give Fulham and its fans a similar tale. <a href="https://fbref.com/en/squads/fd962109/Fulham-Stats">Fulham F.C.</a> is a squad with much to prove in England’s top division.</p>

The Khan Family:

<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code">As an Immigrant to America from Pakistan <strong><a href="https://fbref.com/en/squads/fd962109/Fulham-Stats">Shahid Khan</a></strong> wasn’t afforded many privileges. He washed dishes and stayed in less than ideal living conditions while attending the University of Illinois. Khan graduated with an engineering degree, became a business owner, and his company Flex-N-Gate is a top 50 U.S. company according to Forbes. With That money, Khan bought an American Football team, The Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 before acquiring Fulham just a couple years later in 2013.</p>
<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code">Shahid’s son <strong><a href="https://www.jaguars.com/team/front-office-roster/tony-khan">Tony Khan</a></strong> serves as Fulham’s Co-Owner and Vice-Chairman, but he’s anything but a trust fund kid. Tony’s passion for sport includes Pro-Wrestling, growing up on WCW and WWF in the attitude era, one of the most iconic times to be a wrestling fan. He created his promotion in 2019: All Elite Wrestling which airs on TNT and FiteTV. At Fulham, he is the Director of Football operations and is responsible for all scouting and player personnel that walk the halls of Craven Cottage.</p>

Fulham’s Path to the Premiership

Since Khan’s takeover in West London, Fulham has had their hardships but hope to be trending in the right direction as the season gathers speed this fall. In the first year under the American businessman’s leadership, the Cottagers finished 19th in the EPL during the 2013-14 campaign, a mark equaled in the 2018-19 season as well.

Last season Fulham recorded 23 wins and 11 losses along with 12 draws, good enough for fourth in the Championship, and advancing to the League play-offs. In the Finals, they faced a tremendous foe in the Bees from Brentford. After 90 minutes the score was level at nil-nil. It would take two goals from Englishman Joe Bryan to secure the victory. Bryan had only scored one goal in the entire season previous to the championship game. Finishing with a score of 2-1 Fulham was on their way back to England’s top division.

The Squad

The 2020-2021 Fulham squad should be stronger than the last team that made it a couple of seasons ago but will still need to be in the top form most of the year if they have any chance of escaping relegation in this campaign.

Most of the previous contributors remain on the club, including Tim Ream, Marek Rodak, and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Tim Ream is one of a long line of Americans who have had success for the Fulham squad. Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride all-time National team greats for the Americans also made the fan list for the top starting 11 in the 21st century. Ream has been a constant fixture in defense for the last five seasons, starting in 169 of the 178 contests he’s been in.

Marek Rodak was a solid Goalie from Slovakia last year for the club, but he will need to be nearly perfect to stop the best international strikers that make up a stacked Premier League. In 33 appearances he allowed 33 scores with 14 clean sheets. The manager Scott Parker will be keeping a close eye on Rodak to see if he can cut it or if the newly acquired PSG goalie Alphonse Areola will overtake him sooner rather than later.

Arguably the most important piece for the lineup is the continued form of Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. With 26 goals last year Mitrovic has the talent to keep Fulham in most contests, but a 20 goal season against the back-lines of Liverpool, Man City, and Man United should prove more difficult.

Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

In the early months of the pandemic, when many people were mocking the National Football League for its presumptuousness for holding off-season free agency and the draft, the actual start of the NFL season seemed like wishful thinking. Despite other sports rolling out their bubbles and hub cities, the NFL – the most contact sport of any of the four major North American sports – decided to forge ahead, choosing instead to focus on daily testing and enhanced training complex safety protocols and social-distancing to keep their players and team personnel safe.

Fast-forward to today, and the NFL has had very low positive Covid-19 infections among its ranks, to the surprise of many. The season formally kicked off on Thursday night between Houston and Kansas City, and aside from only about 16,000 fans in attendance due to pandemic capacity restrictions, the game itself looked the same as always.

This doesn’t mean the league is out of the woods by any means when it comes to a spike in Covid-19 infections. The league can look no further than their baseball counterparts to know that the virus has its own plans, and can wreak havoc on game schedules. But for today, and hopefully, for the season in total, football is back, and it’s under this backdrop that we present our week one Chicago Bears preview: Chicago at Detroit.

PREVIEW: BEARS @ LIONS – SEPTEMBER 13, 2020 – 12:00 pm CT

BEARS vs Lions: 2019 RECAP

11/10/19 at Chicago: Bears 20 – Lions 13

11/28/19 at Detroit: Bears 24 – Lions 20

That Chicago won both games against the Lions in 2019 is more of a testament to the team’s good fortune than it was to their overall ability and talent compared to the Lions. The Bears were able to dodge facing Matthew Stafford in either game, as his back injury the week before the November 11th match-up took him out of action for the remainder of the season. Instead, Chicago got to face such quarterback wizardry from the likes of Jeff Driskel and David Blough. Advantage: Bears.

The Detroit defense also was very forgiving, as Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continued to string together his best performances within the division against the Lions and Matt Patricia’s man coverage schemes. Something about facing the team from the Motor City seems to bring the best out of Trubisky, or the worst out of the Lions.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

After “winning” the pre-season quarterback competition over free-agent signee Nick Foles, all eyes will be on Trubisky to prove he has finally turned the corner in his star-crossed career. Trubisky’s struggles have been well-documented: inability to read defenses, leading to poor decision-making; telegraphing his targets; inaccurate throws. There have also been concerns with the quarterback’s psyche, and whether he is too fragile to handle one of the most demanding positions in all of pro sports. His comment last season about turning off the televisions at Hallas Hall didn’t help him in that regard.

Glass half-full theory says Trubisky usually does well against Detroit and will be able to continue this trend. Glass half-empty theory says Detroit has a new defensive coordinator (Cory Undlin) and revamped defensive personnel that might deploy more zone schemes to confuse the Bears quarterback. If the off-season work that Trubisky says he put in to improve his game-day performance has worked, this game will serve as exhibit A.

Improvement on offense is not in Trubisky’s hands alone, however. Bears head coach Matt Nagy will be scrutinized as much as his quarterback this season to determine if the supposed offensive guru has figured out a way to get his offensively-challenged team progressing and moving in the right direction. The starting personnel on offense, except for new tight ends and a new guard, remain the same. That means Nagy will be tasked to develop a game plan that fits with the players he has on offense, something he has not done successfully in his first two years on the job.

Receiver Allen Robinson is the Bears best weapon on offense, but he won’t be able to do it alone against the Lions. The Bears are facing a completely revamped Lions secondary that includes Desmond Trufant, third overall draft pick cornerback Jeff Okudah, and Duron Harmon. However, that might not help the Bears if they can’t get receiver production from an inconsistent Anthony Miller and an aging Ted Ginn Jr. At tight end, the Bears are hoping free agent acquisition Jimmy Graham and second-round draftee Cole Kmet can provide Trubisky with the short/medium range outlets that they have lacked during his time as a Bear. The Lions will look to linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and safety Tracy Walker, among others, to slow down Graham and Kmet.

At running back for the Bears, David Montgomery will be available. His effectiveness will go a long way in providing the Bears with some versatility on offense. To help Trubisky, the Bears need to establish an effective running game to provide offensive balance, something that Nagy has seemed unwilling to commit to since his arrival. The Bears were 28th in run offense in 2019, while the Lions were middle of the pack in run defense at 16. Defensive tackles Danny Shelton and former Bear Nick Williams will be the men in the middle of the Lions defensive line trying to clog things up for the Bears running game.

With the exception of newcomer Germain Ifedi at RG, the Bears offensive line returns all starters from 2019. The Bears offense ranked at or near the bottom in most offensive categories last year. The offensive line owns a significant portion of that performance. The focus on this game will be Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. versus Lions defensive end Trey Flowers.

WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL

Stafford returns at quarterback for the Lions. He was having a very successful first half of the season before he exited 2019 with a back injury. The Lions and their fans are holding their breath that he can remain healthy for the entire 2020 campaign, because as Matthew Stafford goes, so goes the chance for any success for the Lions. That said, the last season Stafford faced the Bears and their defense was in 2018, and he only threw for two touchdowns to go along with 4 interceptions, for a passer rating of 71.4 percent. Clearly, Stafford can’t do it alone either.

The Lions will be without a grade A talent at wide receiver in Kenny Golladay, who finished 2019 with 11 touchdown catches to go along with 1,190 receiving yards. This despite only having the services of Stafford for half a season. Still, look for the Lions to test Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson early and often. At tight end, the Lions are hoping to get more from second-year starter T.J. Hockenson. Bears linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan will be tasked with containing him.

Running back has consistently been the Lions Achilles heel since Stafford came into the league, and has typically been seen as the reason the Lions have not been successful overall as a team. The Lions are hoping a combination of Kerryon Johnson, second-round pick D’Andre Swift, and former All-Pro Adrian Peterson will breathe life into a Lions non-existent running game. Look for the Lions to test Bears nose tackle Bilal Nichols, who has some big shoes to fill in the middle of the Bears defensive line, replacing Eddie Goldman, who opted out for the season.

The right side of the Lions offensive line is completely new from the unit that finished 2019 as the 11th ranked unit according to Pro Football Focus. Halapoulivaati Vaitai will start at RT, and rookie third-rounder Jonah Jackson at right guard. The Bears had two sacks against the Lions in each game in 2019, including two by Smith in the Thanksgiving day match-up. Look for the Bears and Khalil Mack to dial up the pressure on the right side of the Lions offensive line.

SPECIAL TEAMS

For the Bears, Cairo Santos replaces the injured Eddy Pineiro at placekicker to start the season. The Lions employ the normally reliable Matt Prater. At punter, the Bears Pat O’Donnell should have an initial edge over Lions rookie Jack Fox. Kicking edge to the Lions. In the return game, the Bears combination of Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen provides them with a considerable edge.

THE COACHES

Matt Nagy: 20 – 12 – 0 (.625)

Matt Patricia: 9 – 22 – 1(.297)

Bears fans have not exactly been enthralled with what they have seen from Nagy, despite his overall record in his first two years. Lions fans would take 20-12 over the last two seasons compared to the record Patricia has provided over that same period. Advantage: Bears

PREDICTION

The Bears win a typical NFC North slog against the Lions: 23 – 20