It’s a Cubs Revolution!

Theo looks to build a consistent playoff contending team

CHICAGO – Over the last few days, the Chicago Cubs front office has been dramatically revolutionized. This past Tuesday, the Cubs officially introduced former GM of the Red Sox, Theo Epstein. Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, held a press conference to officially announce the new president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. It is a day to rejoice as the Cubs are taking a new direction towards the future.

Under Theo Epstein, the Red Sox won two World Series

A Yale and San Diego State University Law School graduate, Theo Epstein became the youngest GM when the Red Sox hired him in 2002 at the age of 28. He led the Red Sox to their first World Series in 86 years lifting the “Curse of the Bambino”. After a brief absence from the club, Theo returned to Boston to lead them to another World Series victory in 2007. After a dismal September for the Red Sox (7-20) and missing the playoffs with a Wild Card berth, both managerTerry Francona and GM Theo Epstein stepped down from their respective positions.

Theo decided it was best to move on towards a different direction. The foundation for sustaining success is set for the Red Sox. Now, Epstein wants to bring that same kind of sustained success to the Chicago Cubs.

Epstein has been in a position before of breaking curses, but now Theo and his staff face their largest challenge yet. The Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series in 103 years and have not appeared in the World Series since 1945. The Cubs have lost nine straight playoff games dating all the way back to the 2003 NLCS against the Florida Marlins. Not only are Cubs fans eager to bring a World Series to their beloved team, but fans also want to see a consistent playoff contender in the Chicago Cubs.

Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod will join Epstein in the front office

Theo wasted no time in attracting the right individuals to reach these goals.  To fulfill the necessary positions within the Cubs organization, the Cubs officially announced on Wednesday night that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod will leave the San Diego Padres and join the Chicago Cubs front office. Hoyer was the Padres general manager and will assume the same position as well as become executive vice president. McLeod will become senior vice president as well as be in charge of scouting and player development.

The future looks bright for the Cubs and Theo will forever be one of the greatest minds in the game of baseball if he….breaks the 103 year-old curse.

Bears vs. Vikings Week 6 Preview and Predictions

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears (2-3) are trying to avoid last place in the NFC north standings with a divisional rival matchup against the Minnesota Vikings (1-4). The Bears are following a 24-13 Monday Night Football™ loss to theDetroit Lions last week at Ford Field. Bears QB Jay Cutler did the best he could with another treacherous performance by the offensive line committing nine false starts.

The Minnesota Vikings led by star RB Adrian Peterson claimed their first win of the season with a dominant 34-10 win over the Arizona CardinalsAdrian Peterson had a season-high 122 yards rushing including a career high 3 rushing TDs in the first quarter.

OFFENSE

Cutler looks to keep the Bears alive in the NFC North

Bears –Jay Cutler is beginning to receive praise for his toughness, but the offense is still struggling. The Bears do not have a number one receiver with undrafted rookie WR Dane Sanzenbacher being Jay’s favorite target. RB Matt Forte continues to be the only spark the offense has totaling 440 yards rushing with 1 TD and 345 yards receiving and 1 TD.

 

Adrian Peterson has had strong success against the Chicago Bears

Vikings – The Vikings acquired QB Donavon McNabb in the offseason with regards that rookie QB Christian Ponder (12th pick overall in 2011 NFL Draft) will take the year to sit and learn from the veteran. McNabb has had a slow start to the season with 849 yards passing, 4 TDs, and 2 INTs, so Ponder may see his first action of the 2011 season sooner than later.  The Vikings rely on RB Adrian Peterson to carry the offense. In five games, Peterson has 498 yards rushing averaging 4.5 yards a carry and 6 TDs.


My pick: Vikings

 

Jared Allen leads the league with 8.5 sacks

DEFENSE

Bears – Last week, DE Julius Peppers left the game briefly with what was later determined as a MCL sprain, but it has been reported that Peppers will play this Sunday. Bears head coach Lovie Smith decided to bench safeties Brandon Meriweather and Chris Harris after the two allowed explosive plays to WR Calvin Johnson (73-yard TD catch and run) and RB Jahvid Best (88-yard TD run). Instead, Chris Conte and Major Wright will start in place of the veterans.

Vikings –The defensive front four is strong as usual. DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robinson have combined for 13 sacks this season which is more than the total of 22 other NFL teams. Allen is leading the league with 8.5 sacks and is on pace for 27 sacks on the season (NFL record is 22.5 sacks set in 2001 by Michael Strahan).

My Pick: Vikings

SPECIAL TEAMS

Bears – The Special Teams were quiet last week. Return-man Devin Hester was limited with his returns averaging 17 yards a return and only a long of 33 yards. FG kicker Robbie Gould was nothing short of perfect hitting 2 FGs, one for 49 yards, and completing an extra point.

Vikings – FG kicker Ryan Longwell is near perfect on the season with 9 FGM out of 10 FGA and 12/12 for extra points. The Vikings return game has been limited ever since Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff of the 2011 NFL season with a 103-yard return for a TD.

My Pick: Da Bears!

4TH PHASE X-FACTOR

"Sunday Night Football™" at Soldier Field will be an electric atmosphere.

Bears – A Sunday Night Primetime game at Soldier Field with a divisional rival always creates an electric atmosphere for Bears fans. The Bears look to avoid a 0-3 start in the division seeking revenge against the Vikings who have only won once at Soldier Field since 2001.

Vikings –The D-line must be salivating at the opportunity to play against the worst offensive line in the game. The Vikings will be playing a Cover-2 defense relying on the front four to wreak some havoc on the offensive line and Jay Cutler.

My Pick: Da Bears!

 

My Winner for the Wk. 6 Matchup: Da Bears!

Final Score Bears 27 Vikings 19

Bears vs. Lions Week 5 MNF Preview and Predictions

As a Bear, Jay Cutler looks to extend his undefeated streak against the Lions

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears (2-2) are following a 34-29 win over the Carolina Panthers last week at Soldier Field. This week, they face an undefeated Detroit Lions (4-0) team in a premiere matchup on Monday Night Football.

The Detroit Lions are following yet another improbable comeback defeating the Dallas Cowboys 34-30 last week at Cowboys Stadium. Detroit looks to extend their undefeated streak and start the season 5-0 for the first time since 1956.

OFFENSE

Bears – Last week, RB Matt Forte set a career-high for rushing finishing the game with 205 yards against the Panthers. Jay Cutler only completed 9 of 17 pass attempts for 102 yards and 0 TD. It was nice to see the Bears run the ball, but the offense still has no balance between the rush and the pass.

Through the first four games, Calvin Johnson set a record with 8 TDs

Lions – Calvin Johnson set an NFL record with 2 TD catches in the first four games, and tied Cris Carter’s record of catching 2 TDs four weeks in a row. Even if Johnson is seeing triple-coverage, Megatron will out-jump, out-catch, and out-perform anyone.

My pick: Lions

DEFENSE

Bears – Before the Panthers game, the Bears D stressed about having turnovers that meant something. So, in the first quarter D.J. Moore intercepted Cam Newton for a 20 yard interception return for a TD. The Bears D need to continue producing turnovers early in the game.

Lions – Rookie DT Nick Fairley will be making his Lions debut and looks to be a strong addition to what is already a strong front line. In addition to Fairley, the Lions have DT Ndamukong Suh, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, and DE Cliff Avril.

My Pick: Tie

SPECIAL TEAMS

Bears – Devin Hester set another NFL record with his 11th punt return for a touchdown. Hester almost broke free for another return touchdown but was knocked out by Panthers kicker Olindo Mare. 

Lions – In his 20th season with the Lions, K Jason Hanson has been nothing short of perfect. With 10 Field Goal Attempts, Hanson nailed all 10 including a season-long 51-yard field goal.

My Pick: Da Bears!

4TH PHASE X-FACTOR

Hester has 15 career kick returns for a TD

Bears – Hester has 15 career kick return touchdowns with eight of those coming in prime-time games. This does not include a 92-yard Superbowl XLI opening kickoff return TD and a 108-yard TD on a missed field goal against the Giants.

Lions – The Lions have not played a Monday Night Football game in 10 years. The Lions also have not started the season with a 5-0 record since 1956. This game means a lot more to the Lions than initially anticipated.

My Pick: Lions

My Winner for the Wk. 5 Matchup: Lions (I can’t believe I’m predicting the Lions to win)

Final Score: Bears 17 Lions 27

Bears vs. Panthers Week 4 Preview and Predictions

Urlacher and Briggs look to give Newton some trouble

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears (1-2) are following another loss against the Superbowl defending champs the Green Bay Packers. After a 27-17 loss to the Packers last week at Soldier Field, the Bears welcome back former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, now head coach for the Carolina Panthers (1-2).

The Panthers got their first win of the season with a 16-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rookie QB Cam Netwon threw for only 158 yards and 1 TD. The win was capped off with a 16-yard TD catch by former Bear TE Greg Olsen who is also returning to Soldier Field after being traded in the offseason.

OFFENSE

Bears – The Chicago Bears offense is struggling. Jay Cutler simply does not look comfortable with his offensive line. The running game is nowhere to be seen (ranked 31st with 53.7 yards per game) and the passing game is not working either (17th with 251 yards per game). Where has Roy Williams been?

Cam Newton ranks 3rd in the NFL with 1,012 Total Yards Passing

Panthers – The Carolina offense has become a pass-heavy offense. A complete turnaround from last year since the Panthers paid DeAngelo Williams $43 million in the offseason to team up with RB Jonathon Stewart. After three weeks, the Panthers are 4th in passing (321 yards per game) and 24th in rushing (84 yards per game). Cam Newton (ranked third with 1,012 total yards) set records for most yards in rookie debut game (422 yards) and most yards by a rookie in a game (432 yards).

My pick: Panthers

DEFENSE

Julius Peppers is looking for another great game against his former team

Bears – Julius Peppers will be facing his former team again. Last time Peppers played against the Panthers, he made a spectacular play with a blocked pass turning into an interception. That same game, DE Isreal Idonije had 2.5 sacks.

Panthers – The Panthers D have been mediocre thus far ranking 17th in total defense surrendering an average 356.7 yards per game. The Panthers are ranked 14th in passing defense allowing 239.7 yards per game and 25th against the rush permitting 117.0 yards per game.

My Pick: Da Bears!

SPECIAL TEAMS

Bears – The Bears had a beautiful play last week when Johnny Knox returned a punt for a TD only to have it returned on a holding call (Watch the Worst Holding Call in NFL History). If this is a glimpse of one of many brilliant plays from special teams coach Dave Toub, I wonder what other special tricks he has up his sleeve.

Panthers – The Panthers return game has been obsolete. Punt Returner Armanti Edwards is averaging 5.8 yards a punt and Mike Goodson has returned seven kickoffs for 156 yards averaging 22.3 yards.

My Pick: Da Bears!

4TH PHASE X-FACTOR

Bears – I’ll say it week after week; Soldier Field is a tough place to play in. After a poor showing against the Packers, the fans will be in full effect giving Newton a hard time to settle in comfortably.

This match-up has more meaning to Ron than any other game on the schedule

Panthers – Former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera knows the Bears and Soldier Field very well. He knows what to expect and hopes his rookie sensation stays hot and brings a victory for Rivera. This game has more meaning to Rivera than any other game on the schedule. He seeks revenge!

My Pick: Panthers

My Winner for the Wk. 4 Matchup: Da Bears!

Final Score Bears 27 Panthers 16

Bears vs. Packers Week 3 Preview and Predictions

Brian Urlacher

The Chicago Bears (1-1) return to Soldier Field in a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers (2-0) look to stay on top of the NFC North with a road matchup against its oldest rival.

The Chicago Bears follow a tough road loss to the New Orleans Saints which featured Jay Cutler being sacked six times and fumbling the ball once. Gabe Carimi (knee), Earl Bennet (chest) and Major Wright (head) all went down with an injury during the game.

The Packers allowed Carolina Panthers rookie QB Cam Newton to throw for 432 yards last week with WR Steve Smith hauling in 156 of those yards. Aaron Rodgers and his Packer teammates look to continue their pursuit towards another Super Bowl title, but both S Nick Collins (neck) and LB Frank Zombo (shoulder) will be out in Sunday’s matchup.

OFFENSE

Forte already has 324 total yards from scrimmage

Bears – RB Matt Forte continues to prove he is one of the elite backs in the league who deserves to be compensated properly (final year of $600,000 rookie contract). The Bears have accumulated 623 total yards of offense with Forte owning 324 of those yards. That’s 52% of the offense! Please stay healthy Forte.

Packers – Aaron Rodgers is off to a strong start to the season with a 70.8% completion percentage, 620 yards, 5 TDs and zero INT. The Packers offensive line has provided Rodgers with ample time in the pocket surrendering only three sacks so far this season.

My pick: Packers

DEFENSE

Bears – The Bears D simply did not show up last week against the Saints. Drew Brees exploited the secondary with 270 yards and 3 TD including a 79-yard TD bomb to Devery Henderson. The front four will have to provide more pressure as the Bears secondary has been battling injuries.

Packers – The Packers dared Cam Newton to throw, so Newton threw for 432 yards and 1 TD but was picked off three times. CB Charles Woodsonproved to be too much for Newton finishing the game with 2 INT, 5 tackles, and a fumble recovery.

 My Pick: Da Bears!

 SPECIAL TEAMS

Bears – The Bears will continue to have Devin Hester returning the kicks, but Johnny Knox had his first return of the season against the Saints. Knox showcased his skills with a 30 yard return. Look for Johnny Knox to increase his role as a return man as well as in the Bears offense.

Cobb tied the NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return TD

Packers – The Packers have found their lightning-in-a-bottle return man in rookie WR Randall Cobb. Cobb (from Kentucky) provided an electrifying 108-yd kickoff return in week one against the Saints – tied for the longest in NFL history.

My Pick: Tie

4TH PHASE X-FACTOR

Bears – The Chicago Bears currently own the all time series lead with a 92-84-6 record. After losing the NFC Championship game, Bears fans seek revenge in what will be a boisterous crowd at Soldier Field.

Packers – The Packers won the NFC Championship game last year against the Bears. That’s major bragging rights!

My Pick: Tie

My Winner for the Wk. 3 Matchup: Da Bears!

Final Score – Bears 22 Packers 19

Aramis Ramirez to Cubs, “I can’t be here for a rebuilding process”

Aramis Ramirez may have played his last season as a Chicago Cub

CHICAGO – Aramis Ramirez has decided to test the free agency market after the season seeking a multi-year deal. Currently, the Chicago Cubs have the option to pay $16 million next season to Ramirez if he decides to stay. Ramirez though, is looking for a team that can compete and play for a couple more years.

Aramis’ agent Paul Kinzer told the Chicago Tribune, “The door is still open, but at this point, we’ll explore free agency…If [the Cubs] want to make an offer, they’ll be on his short list.”

The departure of GM Jim Hendry created an uncertain future, so Aramis knew he would become a free agent in the offseason. Aramis said, “It looked that way, because of the situation in the front office…I knew it wasn’t a good [possibility] because we don’t have a GM, and we haven’t heard from [the Cubs] the whole time. I knew nothing was going to come of it.”

Mike Quade's future with the Cubs depends on what the new GM will do (Dilip Vishwanat - Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs are currently in the process of rebuilding their franchise. The biggest question is who will the Cubs hire as their new GM, and if a new manager will be hired or will Mike Quade stay.

The uncertainty of the Cubs future is straying Aramis away from the Cubs. “I can’t be here for a rebuilding process,” says Aramis. “I’m not that kind of player. I’m 33, I don’t know how much longer I want to be playing. I know it’s hard to win, but you have to be able to compete, and that’s what I want to do.”

The Chicago Cubs have bounced back from disappointing seasons before in the past. After a 96-loss season in 2006, the Cubs went on to win the NL Central division in 2007. That offseason, the Cubs were in a rebuilding process as well. The Cubs hired new manager Lou Piniella,inked Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year $136 million contract, and signed Mark DeRosa to a three-year $13 million contract.

Aramis wants to compete and win

Aramis is not sure how many years he will be playing, but he wants to play for a playoff contending team. Aramis said, “We have to wait and see what the Cubs want to do first…This is my priority to stay here. Like I said, they have to show me they’re going to be better. That’s the bottom line.”

Bears vs. Saints Week 2 Preview and Predictions

Matt Forte

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears opened their 2011 campaign with a dominating 30-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons last week at Soldier Field.  The Bears now travel to the Superdome and face the 0-1 New Orleans Saints. The Saints are following a season-opening 42-34 loss in a shootout against the Green Bay Packers last week at Lambeau Field.

The Chicago Bears look to extend their four-game winning streak against the Saints, which includes the 2007 NFC Championship game.

Drew Brees and the Saints seek their first win of the season with key injuries to receivers Marques Colston (out four weeks with broken collar bone) and Lance Moore’s  status (groin) for Sunday is unknown.

So let’s break it down:

OFFENSE

Bears – The Bears have a top running back in Matt Forte who garnished 158 totals yards from scrimmage and a TD against the Falcons last week. Jay Cutler completed 22 of 32 passes for 312 yards 2 TD and 1 INT. Last season, Cutler threw 6 TDs and 0 INTs indoors with a QB rating of 117.7

Drew Brees is one of the elite QBs in the league today

Saints – Even without Colston and Moore, Drew Brees and the Saints have plenty of offensive weapons including Devery Henderson, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Jimmy Graham. Brees threw for 419 yards 3 TDs and no INTs but loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week.

My pick: Tie

DEFENSE

This will be an emotional game for Urlacher

Bears – The defensive line consisting of Julius Peppers, Amobi Okoye, and Henry Melton pressured Matt Ryan all game and forced 3 turnovers.The Bears D had 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles (one was returned for a TD by Brian Urlacher) and an INT from Urlacher.

Saints – The Saints have key injuries on defense. Safety Roman Harper (Ankle) and CB Tracy Porter (Calf) are both listed as doubtful for Sunday’s matchup. DTShaun Rogers did not participate in practice Thursday as his status for the game is unknown. This could be trouble as the Saints surrendered 399 total yards to the Packers last week.

My Pick: Da Bears!

SPECIAL TEAMS

Hester was returning both Kickoffs and Punts last week

Bears – Last week, Devin Hester was returning both kickoff AND punt returns. Although he did not return any for a TD, he is still the most dangerous return man in the game. Of course, FG kicker Robbie Gould provides consistency for the Bears special teams.

Saints – The Saints proved they do not need Reggie Bush as Darren Sproles provided the offensive spark the Saints were looking for. Sproles finished the game with 168 total return yards on 4 attempts including a 72 yard punt returned for a TD.

My Pick: Da Bears!

4TH PHASE X-FACTOR

Bears – The D-Line is arguably the best defensive line in the league. The front four will constantly pressure Brees to disrupt his throws and not get into any rhythm. The Bears D will force turnovers, but how many?

"Who Dat? Nation"

Saints – The Superdome is loud! “Who Dat” Nation will be in full force and will be demanding a win in their home opener. This place is tough to play in.

My Pick: Saints

My Winner for the Wk. 2 Matchup: Da Bears!

Final Score – Bears 27 – Saints 21