10 observations about the Bears
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter December 25, 2013 10:12PM
Bears cornerback Tim Jennings on whether he wants Aaron Rodgers to play Sunday: ‘‘To be honest, no.’’ | AP
Updated: December 26, 2013 1:43PM
1. The Bears are the only team in the NFL that has not allowed a pass play of more than 45 yards this season. But they’ve also allowed 98 pass plays of more than 15 yards — fifth most in the league.
While preventing the big, big play, Bears safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright have too often arrived too late to prevent the medium-sized plays. The Bears have allowed 143 first downs on plays of 10-yards-to-go or longer — third most in the NFL.
Are deep safeties to blame? The Bears’ Major Wright is the lowest-rated safety in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus. Chris Conte is the fifth-lowest rated safety.
‘‘I wouldn’t say they’re playing too deep,’’ Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. ‘‘We have alignments that are based upon formation and coverage ... and they change due to down-and-distance and things like that. I feel like our alignments are fine.’’
2. The Bears have allowed an NFL-high 81 rushes of 10 yards or more this season — well ahead of the second-place Cowboys (60). According to pro-football-reference.com, the only team to allow more 10-plus rushes in a single season since 1999 is the 2008 Lions (84).
3. Eleven players have rushed for 100 or more yards against the Bears this season, including Bryce Brown, Benny Cunningham and Brandon Jacobs. That more 100-yard rushers than the Bears allowed in the final four seasons under Lovie Smith (10). In Smith’s nine seasons, the Bears allowed 26 100-yard rushers.
4. The Packers have allowed seven 100-yard rushers this season, second-most in the NFL behind the Bears. Matt Forte was one of the seven. He had 125 yards on 24 carries in the Bears’ 27-20 victory at Lambeau Field on Nov. 4.
5. If the Bears and Packers tie, the Bears will win the division.
6. The Packers rallied from a 23-7 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the Lions 26-26 on Nov. 24 at Lambeau Field. Had the Packers lost that game, the Bears still would need to win Sunday to win the division.
7. Bears guard Matt Slauson (plus-17.9) is the fifth-highest rated guard in the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus — third among left guards. Brandon Marshall is first and Alshon Jeffery fourth among wide receivers. Cornerback Tim Jennings (plus-1.9) is the only Bears’ defender who has played the entire season who has a positive rating from PFF. Zack Bowman, who replaced Charles Tillman is a plus 2.8, best among Bears defensive players.
8. If the Packers beat the Bears on Sunday, they will be sixth team to make the playoffs with eight wins or fewer since the NFL expanded to 12 playoffs teams in 1990. The 2011 Broncos (8-8) were the most recent team to do it. The others are the 2010 Seahawks (7-9), 2008 Chargers (8-8), 2006 Giants (8-8) and 2004 Vikings (8-8).
9. Unless the Bears win by 28 or the Packers win by 16, the winner of the NFC North will be the only team in the playoffs with a negative point differential. The Bears are at -28; the Packers at -16. Two years ago the Giants had a minus-6 differential and won the Super Bowl.
10. Bears cornerback Tim Jennings on whether he wants Aaron Rodgers to play Sunday: ‘‘To be honest, no. They’re playing for the same thing we’re playing for. We’re expecting him to play. And it’s no excuses. Everybody’s going to expect him to play. It’s a big-time game.’’
The Packers are expected to announce Thursday whether Rodgers will play Sunday. They are 2-5-1 since Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone when he was sacked by Shea McClellin at Lambeau Field.