Chicago Bears end the season strong, fixing to start their playoff run against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Chicago Bears look to defend Soldier Field to keep this monster season going.
The Bears had big on their mind the whole season. With the addition of Khalil Mack in the beginning of the season, you should've known that this Bears team had a shot at being special. Boy, did this team shoot!
A team with almost new everything around them found themselves losing a week one matchup. under the light to their foes, the Green Bay Packers.
A team that started out 3-3 ended their season exceeding expectations. Chicago finished with 10 conference wins, five division wins, and literally one yard away from potentially being undefeated at home.
A 12-4 finish with a first year coach.
Those defensive stats provided by Fox Sports tell it all. The Bears defense has been ruthless all season. Khalil Mack has been everything he's supposed to be for this defense. He made this defense go from good to great. Mack, along with Akiem Hicks, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, and Kyle Fuller will be representing Chicago in the Pro Bowl. I'm sure they aren't thinking about the Pro Bowl at the moment, but the nominations are well deserved.
Kyle Fuller locked in this season with a league-high seven interceptions. Eddie Jackson was right behind him with six, turning two of them into scores. Khalil Mack led the pack with 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles on the season. Akiem Hicks found himself becoming the new 'Fridge' for the Bears team. Hicks piled in the endzone like William 'The Fridge' Perry against the Giants for his first career TD.
This Bears offensive team had it's fair ups and downs, but optimism moving forward is still there. They finished 21st in offensive ranking with a 26 points- per-game average. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky finished 8-0 on the season dating back to the late October win against the New York Jets. Mitch had five receivers with 30 or more receptions. Rookie Anthony Miller led this offense with seven touchdown catches on the season.
During the month of December, Jordan Howard averaged nearly five yards a carry. Around this time of the year, you need to pound and protect the football. Tribisky finished the last three games with zero interceptions and better precise throws. Jordan Howard did look out of sync at times earlier this season, but no value was lost with him. Instead, memories were refreshed. Howard is one of the better north-south backs in the league. His presence will be felt when it gets cold out.
Jordan Howard finished the season with 935 yards on 250 carries. Cohen finished with 99 carries good for 444 yards on the ground and 8 total touchdowns. He also grabbed 71 catches for 725 yards. Both of Chicago's lead backs finished with an impressive 1000+ yards from scrimmage.
Matt Nagy showed to be one of the more clever first year coaches in league history. Coming from a nice run in Kansas City, he came to Chicago in the midst of uncertainty and put together what can be something special for Chicago.
Vic Fangio coached this defense with a mad mind all season. Starting with the wild first half from Khalil Mack against the Packers, to the Bears finishing off Kirk Cousins with their backups in during the season finale. Fangio is getting set to take yet another elite defense to the postseason.
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said that "No one wants to play in Chicago" on that Wild Card weekend. Nagy expects no one in Soldier Field to be louder than his defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles look to start another underdog road to the championship game. This team always catches fire exactly when its Nick Foles balled hard and added another impressive accolade to his career. Foles set a record for most passing yards in a game in Eagles franchise history.
This Bears defense is holding opposing QBs to a 73 in passer rating. Nick Foles appeared in five games for the Eagles this season, ending with a rating of 72.3. Danny Trevathan, Taylor Gabriel, Khalil Mack, Prince Amukamara, and Trey Burton all played in the postseason before.
Chicago shouldn't be written off as an inexperienced team if key players and coaches are all familiar with the playoffs. Also, this team thrives on young, confident talent. It would be tragic if none of those young players such as Roquan Smith or James Daniels show up.
There we have it for the Wild Card weekend. Eagles will travel to Soldier Field to take on the NFC North Champions, the Chicago Bears. Philadelphia finished strong to defend their championship on the road. Chicago is setting up to show the world that defense can still be enough for a ring. It should be a showdown in the Midway.