Beware of the Bears

Chicago Bears' running back Matt Forte is third in rushing with 869 yards(REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

Chicago Bears' running back Matt Forte is third in rushing with 869 yards(REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:40 PM ET

Other than the undefeated Green Bay Packers, the very last team you want to go up against these days are the Chicago Bears.

Playing like the Monsters of the Midway of old, the Bears are snarling and growling and have reeled off a four-game win streak and at 6-3, have moved to the front of the class for teams set on securing a wild-card spot.

In their current run, the Bears have looked increasingly better each game starting with a 39-10 drubbing of Minnesota which was followed by a 24-18 victory over Tampa Bay in London’s Wembley Stadium. Following their bye week, the Bears beat the Eagles 30-24 in Philadelphia and last week simply crushed the Lions at home to the tune of 37-13.

They are a team that is headed in just one direction — up — on both sides of the ball.

In their thrashing of the Lions, the Bears caused six turnovers, including four interceptions.

“I don’t think you’re going to lose too many games playing like that on defence,” veteran linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “That’s as dominant (a defence) I’ve been around since I’ve been here.”

That’s a pretty scary statement when you think about it.

This week, the Bears are set to play host to the San Diego Chargers. Ordinarily this would figure to be a tough battle but with the way the Chargers are swooning — they have lost four in a row — the Bears’ win streak is looking to improve.

Following the Chargers, the remainder of their schedule is pretty soft except for a Christmas Day road game at Green Bay.

They could easily end the season 12-4.

Offensively the Bears are balanced as on the ground running back Matt Forte is third in rushing with 869 yards while through the air, Jay Cutler has completed 164 of 283 passes (58%) for 2,033 yards, 11 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

More importantly, the once porous offensive line has plugged its leaks and is keeping Cutler upright and giving him time to make his reads. On the season, Cutler has been sacked 23 times, but has hit the ground just 12 times over his past seven games.

“We’re doing OK,” Cutler said of the offence. “We’re limiting what we do on the outside, trying to get rid of the ball faster. I’ve got a really good feel for what’s going on in the second year in this offence, so it’s starting to come together a little bit.

“I think we’re in a good place. We’re headed in the right direction. The offensive line’s coming together, receivers are playing well, Matt’s still running all over the place.”

They’re in a good place indeed.

MIAMI MADNESS

Maybe it’s the thought of playing the disintegrating Buffalo Bills or perhaps being out in the south Florida sun for too long, but certain members of the 2-7 Miami Dolphins are talking playoffs hot on the heels of a two-game winning streak.

You can’t make stuff like this up.

After losing their opening seven games of the season and then defeating the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, the Dolphins believe they have the stuff to pull off a nine-game win streak, finish 9-7 and hope that’s good enough to get them into the post-season.

“We win ‘em all and we’re in playoff contention,” Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick told the Palm Beach Post.

Perhaps Odrick failed to check out the Dolphins’ schedule. Following the Bills this week, their dance card shows them going against Dallas, Oakland, Philadelphia, Buffalo again, New England and finally, the Jets.

Odrick wasn’t the only dreamer.

Backing him up was linebacker Karlos Dansby, a former member of the 2008 Arizona Cardinals, a team which went 9-7 in the regular season and ended up in the Super Bowl.

“We’ve got an opportunity to be great,” Dansby said. “I went to the Super Bowl at 9-7, so it can be done.”

Just to prove that the Dolphins delusional thinking wasn’t restricted to defensive players and perhaps too many shots to the head, running back Lex Hilliard chimed in: “Our business is to win games no matter what our record or the other team’s is. That never changes. We stuck together through a tough time, and now it’s going to pay off.”

Whatever they’re drinking, I’ll have a double.

FANS SNORING IN CLEVELAND

If you happen to be a fan of high-scoring offence, then turn your head or close your eyes when the Cleveland Browns are playing.

In their past four games, where they managed to go 1-3 — the lone win was the worst NFL spectacle of the season, a 6-3 snorefest over the Seattle Seahawks — the Browns have scored all of two touchdowns.

It’s worse than that. In their past two home games, they have scored ZERO touchdowns while on the season, through their opening nine games, they have yet to score a touchdown in either the first or third quarters of any of their games. That‘s beyond amazing.

The Browns offensive woes stem from a decided lack of talent and crippling injuries. Currently the Browns are employing their fourth and fifth different running backs while their top wide receiver threat, Mohamed Massaquoi has also been beset by injuries.

It all leaves sophomore quarterback Colt McCoy with little in the way of effective weapons to work with.

It was not what was promised when the Browns hired Pat Shurmur as their head coach. Shurmur was a former offensive co-ordinator whose forte was the west coast offence, a system that seemed to be perfect for McCoy’s skill set.

But instead of moving forward, the Browns offence is regressing to the point of being non-existent.

In Cleveland, they don’t call it the end zone, it’s the Dead Zone.

CLEVELAND’s DEAD ZONE

(How bad has the Browns’ offence been in recent years. Check out these numbers)

Cleveland Browns scoring output the past five seasons:

YEAR Avg. Points RANK

2011 14.6 31st

2010 16.9 29th

2009 15.3 32nd

2008 14.5 31st

2007 25.1 8th


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