January 1, 2018

Chicago Bears end season on losing note at Minnesota, 23-10

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

On Sunday afternoon, the Vikings had already locked up a playoff berth, but could clinch the number two seed (and get a week off to prepare) with a win. The Bears were out of the playoff race weeks ago, but had been showing marked improvement over their early-season form, and were likely to offer the Vikings at the least a good test for the post-season. It took some trickery, but the Bears at least forced the Vikings to keep their starters in for the whole game, before getting stuffed at the goal line inside the final three minutes and turning the ball over on downs to end their hopes.

The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover provides the Buy/Sell recommendations in this week’s Stock Market Report:

Buy: The Vikings defense has been dominant to close out the regular season. This is a defense that can look the best of the Purple People Eaters in the eyes and not blink, but what they did after the loss to Carolina has been nothing short of amazing. In 180 minutes of football, they have allowed one offensive touchdown, and that was on a short field, leading 34-0, after a turnover. They are a truly dominant defense, tops in the NFL in points and yards against, and are going to be ferocious at home during the playoffs.

Sell: The Vikings offense has been dominant to close out the regular season. It feels like the offense has taken their foot off the gas the last couple of weeks, though. That said, the last two weeks were either tough weather conditions, or a tough defense, and to their credit they’ve done enough to get it done and win. Still, the big play explosiveness from earlier in the season has been missing the last two weeks, and it would have nice to have had a few big plays while the game was still meaningful.

Buy: The Vikings can overcome 10 penalties against the Bears. One of the reasons the offense was a bit uneven was because penalties killed them again, a problem that’s reared up a few times this season. It cost them more than one first down/big play, but hey, it was a Bears team with a Dead Man Walking as a head coach.

Sell: The Vikings can overcome 10 penalties in the playoffs. But do that in the playoffs, though, and you’re gonna have a bad day. There are no bad teams with coaches on their way to the gallows, mistakes are magnified, and penalties that kill a potential scoring drive on offense or extend one on defense are penalties that can haunt a team for months or years.

Buy: This has been a great season, regardless of what happens from here on out. As soon as Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook went down early in the season, I took the attitude that this team was playing with house money the rest of the year. I don’t think anyone saw 13-3 after that, but this team rallied behind a good group of players and the best coach in the NFL, and damn near ran the table after the Vikings lost Cook and fell to 2-2. No matter what happens, this has been one of my all time favorite seasons for this team, from the Zim Reapers defense, to the unheralded offense lighting it up, to winning on Thanksgiving, to sweeping Green Bay, to going 13-3 for the first time in franchise history. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun to watch and write about this team.

Sell: I want this great season to be over in January. But…yeah. Just one before I die. Just one, that’s all I want. I don’t want a dynasty, although I won’t say no to one, and I don’t care if they go 16-0 and set every record the game has to offer…although I wouldn’t say no to that, either. I mean I’m not a moron, after all. But the fact remains this team is the best all around Vikings team since the 1970’s, and it feels like something special is going on here. They have an offense that can win a shootout, and a defense that can shut out anyone. If both are on…I honestly believe there isn’t a team that can beat them, and with the playoffs lining up the way they are, it feels like fate, while it might not be smiling on this team, sure isn’t laughing and giving it the finger, either.

Buy: Everything Mike Zimmer is selling right now. He is part coach, part motivator, part fan base psychologist. He knows the history of this franchise, and sent a message to everyone today. And for a guy that has had his fair share of ‘woe is me’ moments with this team and their history, it struck the perfect tone with me:

Sell: There’s a more deserving Coach of the Year candidate than Mike Zimmer. I had a lot of thoughts rolling around my head as to why Zim should be the Coach Of The Year, but had a hard time coherently listing them. Then I saw my friend Andy’s tweet, and it was perfect:

There is a lot of coaching uncertainty in the NFC North right now. John Fox has been fired and Jim Caldwell is rumored to be. Green Bay’s defensive coordinator could very well be on the way out, and a good portion of their fans want wholesale changes. But in Minnesota, Mike Zimmer is closer to the beginning of his tenure as coach than the ending of it, and the Vikings just keep getting better.

It’s a good time to be a Vikings fan, boys and girls.

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