5:35 PM PDT, October 4, 2012
It doesn't look like a fair fight. The Bears, fresh off an explosive blowout victory over the Cowboys on the national stage, against the Jaguars, who've been outscored 54-17 at EverBank Field and are 1-3.
I'm going to spare the "any given Sunday" caution and assure you a lopsided win by the Bears.
The Bears offense still gives me pause when mulling how deep into winter their season runs, but there's something the Bears can do defensively to get me believing the club is for real. I'd like proof the Bears can thrash an opponent that wants to take them out in an alley. So far, nobody has tried that approach.
The Cowboys weren't interested, even though it made sense to do so. Jason Garrett's team ran it only 13 times Monday. Seems Garrett favored watching his receivers earn nominations for "game ball" discussion in the Bears locker room.
Nobody has taken a bare knuckles attitude against the Bears defense. But that's all Jacksonville knows.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a stout, powerful, tough and versatile back who gives the Jaguars their only chance to compete. Move the chains and shorten the game.
This is a great chance to evaluate if Brian Urlacher remains among the elite or is just the guy who plays behind Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Amobi Okoye. Now that Urlacher has shaken off the rust, this will be the best barometer yet for the 13-year veteran with achy body parts.
The Bears rank third in the NFL against the run, allowing only 67.2 ypg. That should be how high the bar gets set against Jones-Drew. Well, along with the usual assortment of relentless pass rush and interceptions.
Who knew? It was the defense that was supposed to be the Bears' Achilles' heel. Now we're looking — and realistically — at the prospect of Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman serving as tour guides for Melton and Tim Jennings in Hawaii.
•The Bears (-6) are one of five devilishly tempting road favorites this weekend. How can the players resist Falcons (-3) at Redskins, Ravens (-6) at Chiefs, Packers (-7) at Colts and Texans (-9) at the Jets?
The wagering public finally kicked the books in the teeth last weekend. The Patriots' blowout win over the Bills cashed a lot of winning tickets for chalk players, which includes most of us.
•The Jaguars defense has two sacks this season, fewest in the NFL.
•At the request of Drew Brees, the NFL granted suspended Saints coach Sean Payton a hall pass allowing him to be in attendance when Brees attempts to pass Johnny Unitas as the all-time leader in consecutive games with a touchdown pass (49). The Saints are hosting the Chargers.
At first blush, I didn't agree with the ruling. After further review, I think Payton's penance for "Bountygate" should include a seat for the Saints' 12 remaining games.
•If you run into ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden, buy him a cup of decaf.
•Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wasn't kidding when he said his team wouldn't miss Mario Williams, who signed an enormous deal to play anonymously in Buffalo. In four games, Watt has 20 tackles, including 7 1/2 sacks, two fumble recoveries and five batted down passes.
Watt, a second-year man from Wisconsin, was named the AFC defensive player of the month.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
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