Tag Archives: Nick Foles

The Chicago Bears Season in Review and Ahead

It’s been a rough season for the Chicago Bears. Okay, that may be putting it mildly. On paper, the Bears started strong with a 5-1 record. The defense was leading the way for the Bears. Many had hoped either Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles would improve the offense to a serviceable level of competition. The victories were close, but that’s what good teams do, win the close games. That was what the optimistic sect of Bears fans told themselves.

Reviewing the Chicago Bears Season and Taking a Look Ahead

The Skid

Then the losing streak hit. Each week it felt like groundhog day, with little change to the frustrating cycle. The defense would do its best to hold their opponent within arm’s reach. The offense would go entire quarters, sometimes even games without much production. Injuries to the defense piled up and glaring issues were exposed.

Chuck Pagano built his defensive reputation in Indianapolis but his time in Halas Hall has seen immense regression. Chicago went from number one in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.7) to 14th (23.1). This is despite a big offseason acquisition in Robert Quinn who has just two sacks. At 5-7 and six straight losses, Matt Nagy was on the hot seat.

The Resurgence

One constant of the Nagy organization is, his team refuses to turn on each other. After Foles’ injury against the Vikings in Week 10,  Trubisky was thrust back into the starting lineup. The offense began ticking again. In their next three games, Trubisky led his team to an average of 36 points per game and won all three contests. This stretch paved the way to slip into the playoffs in the number seven seed and seems to have kept Nagy and company around for at least one more season.

Nagy’s run as head coach hasn’t always been the smoothest but this has been the most successful era since Lovie Smith. Nagy is without a losing season in his first three years as head coach, reaching the playoffs twice. This accomplishment shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s been nearly a decade and a half since the monsters of the midway have seen the postseason that frequently. There is tangible frustration, and it’s warranted, but even when things seem hopeless some franchises find fortune.

The Strengths of This Team

The losses of Bobby Massie and James Daniels forced the offensive line to shuffle. Notre Dame alums Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars have stepped up huge. They are part of the reason why David Montgomery eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and finished fifth in overall rush yards. Nagy has capitalized on this and re-focused the offense to match its strengths.

Few fans will disagree that Trubisky’s legs are one of his stronger attributes. The play calling now includes more moving pockets and RPO’s and less deep dropbacks and slow-developing plays. When the defense gets pressure on the quarterback, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller have the freedom to jump routes and make plays. All-Pro special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson will need to make his presence felt if the Bears have any chance at winning on Sunday against the Saints.

It’s a New Season for the Chicago Bears

As the postseason gets underway this weekend the Chicago Bears do have a chance to make a run, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Teams with more systemic problems have united in the past and forged unlikely roads to success in the playoffs. The 2011 New York Giants are an example of a team that surprised analysts and fans alike. They made adjustments at just the right time leading to iconic playoff memories. Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning led the G-Men who had an eerily similar season to this year’s NFC North contenders.

The Giants lost five of six games late in the season and fans were calling for Coughlin’s head. The team limped into the playoffs with a 9-7 and a negative point differential. The defense was pitiful in the regular season giving up over 25 points per game but in the playoffs, they averaged just 14 points against even though only one of the games was held at home. They ended their season with a Lombardi trophy upsetting the legendary duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for the second time. As a fan, enjoy this Sunday, who knows when another game as meaningful as this will take place for the Chicago Bears.

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Week 12 Primetime Moneymakers: Staying on Schedule

Week 11 saw the return of significant season-ending injuries and Week 12 is back to screwing with the schedule. After losing Joe Burrow and Rex Burkhead, among others, to injury last week we might lose an entire game due to COVID. An outbreak at the Baltimore Raves facility that has claimed Lamar Jackson and forced a shutdown until at least Monday. This obviously puts their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in even further doubt after the game was already moved from Thursday.

Moving that game may have been for the best. It was another week of taking it on the chin, going 1-3 in Week 11 which was an improvement over the week before. Undeterred, we must forge on with a two-game primetime slate. There’s still plenty of opportunities to make some money this week and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us (for a change, sheesh).

Staying on Schedule with Week 12 Primetime Moneymakers

Chicago Bears (5-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-3)

Spread: Packers -9

O/U: 44.5

What a fall from grace it’s been for the Chicago Bears (5-5 ATS) who began the season 5-1. They went into their bye on a four-game losing streak and with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings for the first time since 2017. As usual, their defense is among the best, ranking fourth in defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders and sixth in scoring. But their offense checks in at 29th in DVOA and 31st in scoring. You see the problem. Now, they turn back to opening-day starter Mitchell Trubisky with Nick Foles still on the mend. They also don’t know if Akiem Hicks will be available to stop the run.

The Green Bay Packers (6-4 ATS) should be 8-2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s fumble in Packer territory in overtime allowed for a game-winning field goal by the Indianapolis Colts. All three of Green Bay’s losses have been of a confounding nature for various reasons. They still rank ninth in total DVOA and second in offense DVOA. Their (sometimes glaring) weakness is their defense. After making tremendous strides last season, they have regressed some. They still rank 18th in defense DVOA (15th in 2019), but aren’t getting to the quarterback in the same way as before. Still, the trio of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones is as good of an eraser as there is.

There isn’t much mystery here as the Packers have owned the Bears since Bret Favre’s time in Wisconsin with some highly critical games along the way including an NFC Championship. Chicago hasn’t beaten Green Bay since 2018 and, with the current state of both teams as it is, they don’t appear poised to snap that streak in 2020. Trubisky, who was already benched this season, has only thrown four touchdowns (with three interceptions) in five games against the Packers. So it’s unlikely he is the answer to their scoring woes, let alone breaking out of their slump. This game opened at Packer -7.5 and has only grown. Follow that lead and take Green Bay laying the points. We’re leaving totals alone this week for…reasons.

Seattle Seahawks (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)

Spread: Eagles +5

O/U: 50

It was around this time last week that we were on the brink of eulogizing the Seattle Seahawks (6-4 ATS) in advance of their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. “Let Russ Cook” took a backseat as Russell Wilson tied a season-low with 28 pass attempts and set a new season-low with 197 yards. The Seahawks still managed a 28-21 victory in primetime. Seattle is much like Green Bay in that they are carried by their offense. They rank fourth in offense DVOA but 23rd in defense DVOA. So perhaps they can find a happy medium between letting Russ cook and their run-heavy approach of the past two seasons.

Carson Wentz is fighting for his career as a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles (3-7 ATS) while they are fighting for the crown in the worst division in football. With a win, the Eagles would take over first place from the Washington Football team by virtue of having a tie in place of a loss. It’s a dubious honor but a loss could usher in the start of the Jalen Hurts era in Philly. The Eagles defense ranks 30th in DVOA thanks in no small part to Wentz’s league-leading 14 interceptions. But their defense ranks 13th bolstered by their stout run-stopping ability.

The Eagles have lost and failed to cover in each of their last two games and neither contest was against top-tier competition. On the other side, the Seahawks bounced back from implosion but have failed to cover on the road since Week 4 in Miami. Philadelphia is also getting healthier at wide receiver and tight end. Can they offset the juice seemingly added to Seattle’s pass rush by the addition of Carlos Dunlap? This feels like a trap after opening at -2.5, but home dogs have covered over 50 percent of the time making Philly plus the points feel best. Both defenses shut down the run meaning more passing which usually means more points. Pound the over.

Baltimore Ravens (6-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)

Spread: Steelers -4.5

O/U: 45  

This on-again, off-again affair is back on again for primetime after being moved from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, now to Tuesday night following an outbreak of COVID among the Baltimore Ravens (4-6 ATS). In the midst of what would be considered a down year offensively, the Ravens will face an undefeated opponent having not been allowed to practice until Monday at the earliest. On top of that, even if they end up playing the game, Baltimore’s 23rd ranked offense (DVOA) will be led by Robert Griffin III as Lamar Jackson has tested positive. They’ll be relying on their defense that ranks seventh in DVOA a little more than usual.

“Undefeated” might as well be a four-letter word as you won’t find many teams that will ever entertain the idea. The same goes for the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2) who are having an incredible season. They’re third in total DVOA, first in defense DVOA, fourth in scoring offense, and first in scoring defense. This is a well-rounded machine even if it isn’t always well-oiled. Pittsburgh has scored at least 24 points in every game this season while allowing an opponent to score more than that just once.  The Steelers also lead the league in sacks, just one more thing for fill-in RGIII to worry about come (hopefully) Tuesday night.

There is no way the Ravens can be as prepared to play this game as they need to be to have a chance. And that’s before factoring in a backup quarterback. When these two teams met back in Week 8, the Steelers came away with a 28-24 victory on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Chase Claypool late in the fourth quarter. It won’t get that close this time with the way this game is shaping up. 4.5 might not be enough for the Ravens to cover the first quarter, take Pittsburgh. And if you’re feeling frisky take the under. Baltimore might have trouble hitting their implied total of 20.5 and Pittsburgh could turn to James Conner and the run early with the Calais Campbell set to miss another game.

Week 10 Primetime Moneymakers: Smash-Mouth Football

Granted, we didn’t get a preseason. But this season is absolutely flying by. We’re already in Week 10 and the playoff picture is taking shape. Kansas City is once again looking like the class of the AFC and really the entire NFL. That’s because the NFC is a clouded mess. Three to four teams can make a legitimate claim for best in the conference.

Another 2-1 week brings us to 8-8 on the season. Still not great but it has been a climb from the sub-.500 basement we were in. We are still struggling to nail down these totals, but that is secondary to calling winners. As usual, there is more money to be made and if anyone is going to lay claim to it it might as well be us.

Smash-Mouth Football On Tap in Week 10 Primetime Moneymakers

Indianapolis Colts (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (6-2)

Spread: Titans +1

O/U: 48.5

The Indianapolis Colts (4-4 ATS) come in allowing the fewest total yards (second in rushing and third in passing) in the NFL anchored by Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner. They are also third in defensive DVOA (second in run defense DVOA). Boasting superb line play on either side of the ball, they might struggle against Tennessee middling run defense but they should give Philip Rivers plenty of time in the pocket. He had seemingly regained his form, throwing six touchdowns and zero interceptions in the two games before his dud in Baltimore in Week 9. Those other secondaries are closer to what the Titans have been.

We saw a stingy Chicago Bears defense take Derrick Henry away last week and the Titans (3-5 ATS) still came away victorious. Ryan Tannehill got the job done, throwing two touchdowns with no picks. That brings him to 19 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Henry was held to just 68 yards on 21 carries last week and 75 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers three weeks ago. An ominous sign with him facing his toughest test. Tennessee only has 10 sacks on the season so they’ll need Malcolm Butler, trade deadline-acquisition Desmond King, and the recently-activated Adoree’ Jackson to tighten things up on the back end.

This is a battle for AFC South supremacy but it’s only the first act. These two teams will face each other in two weeks so this one could put the Titans in the driver seat of the division. The Colts only victory over a team with a winning record was against the Bears. The Titans have two such wins, but one of them was also the Bears. That makes this essentially uncharted territory for both teams with a slight edge going to the Titans. Is their victory of the inconsistent Buffalo Bills convincing enough? They also almost knocked off the Steelers. Take the home team getting no respect from Vegas. Also (reluctantly) take the under as both offenses could struggle.

Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at New England Patriots (3-5)

Spread: Patriots +7

O/U: 43.5

What a matchup this would be if it were 2018. As it stands, the Baltimore Ravens (4-4 ATS) should be looking at this as a tune-up. The Ravens have been highly-scrutinized for their offensive struggles despite having the exact same record through six games as last year. That’s because they’ve fallen from having the top-ranked offense in DVOA in 2019 to 23rd here in 2020. Both phases have regressed but it’s Lamar Jackson’s passing that’s suffered the most. His touchdown rate came down from the unsustainable level of last season while he’s throwing picks at the highest rate of his career.

You’d have to go all the way back to 1994 to find a New England Patriots (3-5 ATS) team that was 3-5 through eight games. Cam Newton has regressed as the season has gone on, though he had somewhat of a bounceback against the lowly New York Jets a week ago in primetime. This is easily the stiffest challenge of Newton’s tenure in New England. His offense is already 24th in DVOA and 28th in passing DVOA. 

New England was hit the hardest of any team by COVID opt-outs; mostly on defense. It has shown. They rank 10th in yards thanks to ranking fifth against the pass. They’re 21st against the run. Sounds like the perfect recipe for Jackson and Co. to get things back on track, which is strange to type about a Bill Belichick-led Patriots team. Jackson has always given the Patriots defense some issues anyway. But in this state, a Baltimore win feels inevitable. Take the Ravens and the points. The under is also tempting but having been burned on several matchups like this, hard pass

Minnesota Vikings (3-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4)

Spread: Bears +2.5

O/U: 43

It hasn’t been the season most envisioned for the Minnesota Vikings (5-3 ATS) but they haven’t given up. They’ve won two games in a row, have an offense ranked seventh in DVOA, and have the league’s leading rusher in Dalvin Cook toting the rock. The Vikings have rightfully limited Kirk Cousins’ exposure. They’ll need to jump out to an early lead if they are to keep this all up. Cousins is 0-3 against the Bears as a member of the Vikings.

Chicago (5-4 ATS) is in the midst of a three-game losing streak. If they are going to avoid their second losing streak in as many seasons (and protect their streak against the Vikings) they will need a few things. First, figure out the ground attack as Minnesota is slightly worse at defending the run. They were already struggling to run and David Montgomery is out this week with a concussion. Could we see a Cordarrelle Patterson revenge game? Second, figure out how to protect Nick Foles. Minnesota was already vulnerable to the pass and is set to be down Cameron Dantzler at corner. 

Matt Nagy is 4-0 as a head coach against Mike Zimmer. His team has a better record too. Still, the dam feels about ready to burst. Despite all of that, the pick is the Bears plus the points. It’s not all sentimentality (admitted Bears fan here). Cook has struggled against the Bears as much as Cousins has. A one-game reprieve from the recent doldrums right before the bye is a very Bears thing to do. The under is, again, the reluctant play. Chicago suppresses their own offense even better than they do opponents. Hard to see Lazor fixing it all in one week.

Week 10 Waiver Wire: Coastal Elite

Hopefully, you were on the giving end of one of the explosive performances from this weekend in the NFL. If you had Dalvin Cook or Davante Adams this weekend there’s a really good chance you walked away with a ‘W’. Unless, of course, the rest of your lineup proceeded to wet the bed (*dries tears*). Basically, there were several stars performing like stars this week.

There were also some surprises, confirmations, and a few other happenings. So this week’s wire will include a quarterback back from the brink, a running back that might finally get his chance, and a receiver that keeps popping up with big games in relief. That’s big with the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs joining the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets on bye. As usual, most if not all of these players fall below 50% ownership.

Rams and Patriots Headline the Week 10 Waiver wire

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff

Los Angeles Rams

Quick, who is the QB13 on the season? If your answer wasn’t one Jared Goff, thanks for playing. Goff and the Los Angeles Rams are coming off of their bye and he didn’t have a great game before the break. But he does have a couple of appearances in the weekly top-10 and several others in the top-18. Los Angeles is run-heavy this year, but this game presents an interesting challenge.

Goff draws the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. They’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks including the QB2 performance of Josh Allen in Week 9. Kyler Murray was the QB2 against them in Week 7. Seattle even let Nick Mullens finish as the QB16 in Week 8. The bottom line is, they are a sieve against the pass and fairly sturdy against the run. Fire up Goff, and all of his weapons for that matter, with confidence.

Nick Foles

Chicago Bears

This is where there is a clear delineation of real-life football from fantasy. In no world (in any way shape, or form) would Nick Foles be a recommended starting quarterback for your real team. But in fantasy, we don’t care how you rack up points, just rack ‘em up. Foles has one of the best defenses in the league behind him but his unit fails to move the ball most of the game; ranking 28th or worse in scoring and on third and fourth downs.

Since his first start in Week 4, however, Foles is actually QB17 on the season. He’s ahead of names like Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford. Not elite fantasy quarterbacks by any stretch but all very serviceable. With a date against the Minnesota Vikings (who’ve allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks) on deck for Week 10, this might be a hold your nose situation.

Running Backs

Malcolm Brown

Los Angeles Rams

We just got done talking about how good Goff’s outlook was in Week 10 and now we’re going to tell you why Malcolm Brown could be useful in lineups. The Rams are still going to try establishing the run and Brown is just 20 carries and 144 yards behind team-leader Darrell Henderson. They both have three rushing scores. All of that without drawing one start for L.A. Henderson got banged up before the bye though he is expected to be fine. But that shouldn’t deter you from deploying Brown this week.

He’s gotten double-digit carries four times this season and Henderson was active for all of them. But in a game with such a high point expectancy, you want to get any viable piece of the action that you can. You’re probably still hoping he finds the end zone; only Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison surpassed 60 yards against the Seahawks. But again, double-digit carries. You aren’t finding that in many back-up running backs across the league. And don’t let the Rams get out to a lead like the Bills did.

Kalen Ballage

Los Angeles Chargers

Injuries suck no matter when they occur. But fantasy owners of Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson got a big fat goose egg in their lineups when he hurt his knee on the first play of the game against the Las Vegas Raiders. He played two more snaps but didn’t record a touch. It was a blow but Kalen Ballage stepped up in real life and might have a shot to do so for your fantasy team in Week 10.

Los Angeles hosts the upstart Miami Dolphins. They aren’t a cakewalk but they aren’t to be avoided either. Ballage, who was traded by the Dolphins to the Jets this preseason, out-carried rookie Joshua Kelley 15-9. While the latter got more action through the air, the former still managed to haul in two of his three targets for 15 yards, adding to his profile for Week 10. Of course, this depends on whether or not Jackson recovers, but if he misses time, Ballage could help you stay afloat.

Rex Burkhead

New England Patriots

Speaking of wasting entire spiels, we included Damien Harris in our Week 9 write-up. Now Harris is dealing with a chest injury. But that allowed Rex Burkhead to re-emerge as a viable option. Burkhead finished as the RB8 in Week 9, rushing 12 times for 56 yards and three passes for 11 yards. He also scored two touchdowns, one each via the air and ground. It was Burkhead’s second appearance in the top-10. He was RB2 way back in Week 3.

The New England Patriots will face a tough matchup in Week 10, hosting the tough Baltimore Ravens. They’re allowing the fewest points to running backs this season but only the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans backs in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, and the Colts backs in Week 9 failed to crack the top-20 against them. James White is still around and Cam Newton is always a threat to vulture at the goal line. But Burkhead’s versatility will serve him well in what is sure to be a hard-fought battle in Week 10.

Wide Receivers

Jakobi Meyers

Sticking with the Patriots, if you watched Monday Night Football in Week 9, first I’m sorry. But second, you certainly noticed one Jakobi Meyers, Week 9’s WR4. The second-year former quarterback out of N.C. State was easily Newton’s favorite target on the night, garnering 14 looks and catching 12 for 169 yards. He was repeatedly open in the middle of the field as the New York Jets wanted Newton to throw down the field. He and Meyers picked them apart instead.

Baltimore is just as tough on wide receivers as back so this is going to be tough sledding for Meyers. The Ravens have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers this season. They have, however, given up top-10 performances to Travis Fulgham and Terry McLaurin, and Tyreek Hill was WR12 in Week 3. Fulgham and McLaurin are probably better comps as target hogs on bad teams. That bodes well for Meyers.

Curtis Samuel

Carolina Panthers

There is some inherent risk in playing Carolina Panthers receiver Curtis Samuel, though admittedly less so than normal. Samuel had buzz coming into the season as a versatile playmaker and the coaching staff even talked him up as such. But he failed to even score double-digit fantasy points in any of the first four games this season. He’s flipped that over his last four contests, recording increasing point totals every week culminating with being the WR7. He’s also scored in each of the last three games. Samuel is the WR12 since Week 5 and is the WR6 (!!!) over the last three weeks.

Carolina draws an almost certainly pissed off Buccaneers team down in Tampa in Week 10. They’re 12th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and only four receivers have finished in the top-20 for the week against them. Fortunately for Carolina, two of the receivers were Panthers. Both D.J. Moore (WR10) and Robby Anderson (WR12) did it in Week 2. Perhaps Samuel, who will be in the mix for carries if Christian McCaffrey misses more time.

KJ Hamler

Denver Broncos

This is our first rookie of the week after previous listings often had several at a time. But KJ Hamler might be emerging as a reliable option for the Denver Broncos at the right time. Drew Lock (who made last week’s article) has thrown five touchdowns over his last two starts. Hamler has nine catches, 88 yards, and a touchdown in that same span. He also finished as the WR29 in Week 9.

There are a few hurdles for Hamler to clear to maintain relevance. First, he is competing with fellow rookie Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick for targets. In his favor, Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam are both banged up, freeing up space (and targets) in the middle of the field should one or both miss time. Denver faces the Raiders in Week 10. They are 17th in fantasy points allowed to receivers.

Tight End

Irv Smith Jr

Minnesota Vikings

It’s one thing to ignore a one-off, TE4 performance. It’s another thing entirely to ignore Irv Smith Jr. having several top-12 performances. Or that he is the TE15 on the year despite having just three starts and playing behind Kyle Rudolph most of the season. In fact, Smith has out-snapped Rudolph in each of the last two games. The Minnesota Vikings aren’t the defensive force they once were so Smith has been a revelation.

Minnesota travels to Chicago in Week 10 to take on the reeling Bears. They have one of the best defenses in the NFL but there are weak spots. They effectively lock down the perimeter but have shown to be vulnerable to backs and tight ends at times. Chicago is 28th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have given up six touchdowns to the position. Smith has been a weapon for the Vikings and that should continue in Week 10.

Triple Zeros: JJ Stankevitz Returns

Had to get @JJStankevitz back on #TripleZeros to talk #Bears after the QB change! We talked about who benefits most, greater expectations, and so much more!
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