You’ve seen the Minneapolis Miracle by now, but there’s something about this point of view that stands out above the rest:
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 15, 2018
And how about the celebration happening right in front of a section full of stunned New Orleans Saints fans? As if that moment could have been any better.
- One of the reasons the Vikings and Saints met in the playoffs in the first place was because of each team’s recent stretch of drafting excellence. The Bears will need to replicate that kind of success if they want to crash the playoff party in 2018. Unfortunately, the Bears weren’t as fortunate as one would have liked when it came to tie-breakers. Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com goes into detail on why the Bears draft last among the four 5-11 teams. Mayer goes onto explain that the order of the Broncos, Jets, Buccaneers, and Bears will rotate each round. For example, the Bears will have the fifth pick in the second round instead of the eighth. Here’s to making the most of it.
- Players who could be available in that range include Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk, Florida State cornerback Tavarus McFadden, and Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis. It’s too early to nail down who the Bears will pick when they’re on the clock, but we already have an idea of what their needs are, as well as some insight on what GM Ryan Pace is looking for based on the team’s recent draft history. There is no doubt this will be Pace’s biggest draft to date.
- Getting it right in free agency is a high priority, too. Even though none of Pace’s free agent misses have wrecked the Bears’ long-term cap situation, it would be nice if Pace signed some impact players who can push the team in the right direction. Some of those players have made Gregg Rosenthal’s list of the 25 best free agents. In what can be considered a bit of a surprise, cornerback Kyle Fuller isn’t listed in the top 25 or among the 14 notable omissions. Perhaps there is a reasonable long-term deal to be had between the two sides after all. Only time will tell.
- As for the rest of Rosenthal’s list, there are six quarterbacks in the top-25, including each of the three who are currently under contract with the Minnesota Vikings. There are also three wide receivers who land among the top 11. Free agency is risky business, but Pace has shown an ability to find some quality on the market with the signings of cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive end Akiem Hicks.
- It wasn’t just poor free agent decisions that sunk the Bears in 2017. On the bright side, here is a full rundown of every category in which the team or a player ranked in the top-10. It’s encouraging to see names like Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Adrian Amos, and Eddie Jackson mentioned prominently here as each of those players are under contract for 2018. Add Kyle Fuller – whose 22 passes defensed ranked as the second most in the NFL – back to the mix and I’d probably feel a little better about the defense.
- No Bears made the Pro Football Writers of America All-NFL or All-NFC teams, but the squads should represent a jumping off point if the Bears want to make a Rams-like leap in 2018:
— Pro Football Writers (@PFWAwriters) January 15, 2018
- While Jared Goff’s awesome second season took center stage, he wasn’t one of the six Rams to be All-NFL. The Rams were represented by running back Todd Gurley, tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and three special teams studs in kicker Greg Zuerlein, punter Johnny Hekker, and kick returner Pharoh Cooper. So while quarterback is the most important position on the field, the Rams wouldn’t have had team-wide success if not for the production from the rest of the roster.
- The Bears have a ways to go before they’re on the Rams level, but having a top-10 defense would surely help matters.
- The Tennessee Titans have had a change of heart, parting ways with Head Coach Mike Mularkey after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension. On Sunday, sources told NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport that an extension was offered and that Mularkey would be staying put. This comes one week after controlling owner Amy Adams seemed to debunk rumors of Mularkey’s imminent dismissal by saying “no one has been a bigger supporter” and that Mularkey “is our head coach and will be our head coach moving forward.”
- Tennessee’s timing will cost them at picking from the top available head coaches. Earlier, Rapoport tweeted there was a belief that Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels would prefer the Titans coaching job over the others because of Marcus Mariota’s high ceiling. Alas, Rapoport and NFL Network teammate Tom Pelissero are now reporting the Colts are expected to hire McDaniels as their next head coach. Where the Titans go from here remains to be seen, but they have put themselves behind the 8-ball with how they’ve gone about their move.
- Three of the four Divisional Round playoff games were closely contested and decided by one score, but that didn’t reflect in the ratings. According to Sports Media Watch, ratings for all four games were down across-the-board. The decline in ratings looks to be modest for the most part, but ratings hadn’t dipped to these levels since 2009. After a ratings dip on Wild Card Weekend that followed an overall decline, the most recent round of postseason football hasn’t turned those trends around. Perhaps championship weekend will change the league’s ratings fortunes.
- At least Amazon can boast some sort of ratings victory. Joe Lemire of SportTechie.com reports Amazon says its Thursday Night Football viewership surpassed what Twitter did in 2017. If you’ll recall, Bears-Packers was the first game in the Amazon Prime Video Thursday night package.
- In other Bears-Packers news, the Associated Press reports NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, a life-long Bears fan has gone to the dark side and is dating Green Bay’s star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I’m not necessarily one to dip in celebrity romantic life, but this one is an eyebrow-raiser.
- In other, more football-relevant Packers news:
Packers’ CB Damarious Randall is undergoing hand surgery today and will need six to eight weeks to recover, per a league source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 15, 2018