Bears 2017 schedule announced

We have known for some times who the Bears would play for the most part. Now we know when and where. 2017 comes in a little like a wrecking ball. Let’s go game by game and see how it could turn out.

Week 1: Falcons- Atlanta was the Super Bowl loser. To make things worse, they blew the largest lead in Super Bowl history. On paper, this looks like a loss for the Bears. Don’t be so quick though. There is no doubt the Falcons will have some of that Super Bowl hangover going on. The real question is: Will the Bears field a team capable of beating a playoff team? It’s better to get the good teams early, before they are at full systems go. This is no exception.

Week 2: @Buccaneers-Lovie Smith has not been the head coach for 2 seasons now. Jameis Winston is in his 3rd season. The Bucs need to improve on defense if they want a serious shot at their division. This could be the lone win in the first 5-6 (or 8) games for the Bears.

Week 3: Steelers- The Bears get the Steelers at home, but that might not mean a whole lot. The Steelers boast one of the most potent offenses in the NFL behind Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell.

Week 4: @Packers- Going to Lambeau field is never an easy trip, but it’s better to go there in week 4, than it would be in the middle to end of the season. The Packers have their flaws, and can be had. Will the Bears have a solid team to take advantage of them? The Packers won’t have Jay Cutler “handing” them the ball. So there’s that.

Week 5: Vikings- The hits keep coming as the Vikings come to town right after a tough game vs the Packers. The losses could really be piling up at this point. We will know a lot about the Bears after week 4. The Bears have the toughest first four games of the season, and the next 4 are no cakewalk. Only positive is this game is at Soldier Field. Buckle up.

Week 6: @Ravens- I thought the Ravens were a fairly mediocre team last year. They still managed to be 8-8 in a tough AFC North. They are tough at home, and with the #16 pick in the draft, can add a playmaker on offense or defense. John Harbaugh’s teams always bring toughness. After the first 5 games, the Bears might be in a bit of trouble.

Week 7: Panthers- Carolina is not as bad as their 6-10 record might indicate. Cam Newton had a rough first part of the season in 2016. He took a beating right from game 1. The Panthers have always played the Bears tough. I don’t expect this to be any different.

Week 8: @Saints- The Bears have not faired well in the game before their bye-week in recent years (1-3 last 4 years). Now factor in a trip to New Orleans. Drew Brees isn’t the same QB he was years ago, but he has plenty of arm left. Their defense always plays better at home.

Week 9: Bye- The Bears could easily be looking at a 1-7 or 2-6 record to start the season. You never know how things will bounce though, which is why they play the games. I think the best the Bears could hope for is a 4-4 record going into the bye.

Week 10: Packers- As if that wasn’t enough, the Bears get to entertain the Packers at home after a week off. On the plus side, they had some time to rest and prepare for a division foe. On the minus side, it’s the Packers. Hopefully Mike Glennon does a little better in the turnover department.

Week 11: Lions- For the first time in 2017, the Bears get to face the Detroit Lions. The Lions were an up and down team last year, but still managed to end up 9-7. Second year GM Bob Quinn is building the team from the line up, as you should do. We will see what kind of talent they select in the upcoming draft.

Week 12: @Eagles- After a hot start in 2016, the Eagles cooled off behind their rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz. This game has a little intrigue to it as Philadelphia is where former Bear Alshon Jeffrey landed in free agency. He will no doubt be looking to prove something vs his former team.

Week 13: 49ers- The 49ers were really bad last year. The week they came to Chicago it snowed, and QB Colin Kaepernick wanted to part of it. Despite his receivers dropping a record number of passes, Bears QB Matt Barkley lead the team to a lopsided victory. I don’t expect the 49ers to be as easy of a mark this year. Barkley is now a 49er, and Kaepernick is not currently on an NFL roster. Kyle Shanahan and new GM John Lynch will no doubt bring more talent with them. I’m tempted to give the Bears an edge for being the home team, but nothing is guaranteed.

Week 14: @Bengals- The Bengals always seem to play the Bears tough. This year should be no different. AJ Green will be a challenge for the Bears secondary, which at present, badly needs a playmaker or two.

Week 15: @Lions- The second go around for the Bears/Lions is up in Michigan. The results might be more of the same. Especially if the Lions are in the mix for a playoff slot.

Week 16: Browns- Presently, the Bears have a definitive edge in talent. However, the Browns have like 20 picks in the draft, and should load up on talent. Especially with the #1, and #12 overall picks in the 2017 draft. Having said that, I think Mike Glennon will be the best QB on the field when these two teams meet.

Week 17: @Vikings- A little Deja Vu here. The NFL wants to make sure week 17 means something, so they schedule week 17 vs your division. A good idea in theory, but you are assured to face of vs one of 3 teams, and often, the same team you closed out the season last year. If that team has happened to clinched a playoff spot, it becomes meaningless anyways.

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NFL Draft Talk vol. 1: Leonard Fournette vs the field

I have lots of thoughts on this year’s NFL Draft, so I will lay them on you. I already completed a first round mock draft, why the Bears are in a perfect spot, and 5 players who should be drafted in the top 10. I still have more thoughts, so…

This brings me to today’s topic: Leonard Fournette vs the field. I was spot on last year with Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. Even though I write my mock drafts from a fantasy football aspect, I still like to “get it right” now and then. This brings me to 2017 and possibly the best player in this year’s draft.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I was doing the Bears perfect spot post that I realized something. The Bears, and pretty much every team from #3 on, should be considering Leonard Fournette. Now, I know the running back has been devalued in the current NFL landscape. They are most often “ridden hard”, then discarded. Fournette is not one of those backs. He’s something different. In the mold of an Adrian Peterson. He’s got size. He’s got speed. He’s got power. He belongs on a team with a better than average offensive line.

I have watched Leonard Fournette for the last 3 years, and could not wait for him to get to the NFL.

Let’s go through the top 10, and see who could use Fournette, or someone else in the 2017 NFL Draft, shall we?

1. Browns: Myles Garrett is going to be a solid (and probably dominant) pass rusher in the NFL for while. He’s one of those rare dudes. Similar to Von Miller or Julius Peppers. Having said that, nothing can turn around a franchise faster than a stud running back. The Browns desperately need talent. They couldn’t go wrong with either pick. They have a ton of picks this year, and that is exactly why I could see them trading back into the first round for Fournette. I know, it sounds like nonsense. It probably is, but that didn’t keep me from writing it!

2. 49ers: Solomon Thomas looks like he will be a fine NFL player. Not as gifted a pass rusher as Myles Garrett, but he brings versatility and power to the table. The 49ers are in the same situation as the Browns, in having a void of talent. Fournette would bring immediate credibility on the offensive side of the ball.

3. Bears: The Bears already have two very good running backs in Jordan Howard, and Jeremy Langford. Running back is not a need. They could easily take Marshon Lattimore, or Jamal Adams, and call it a day. They absolutely need a playmaker in the secondary. The Bears also have a history of drafting great running backs. Walter Payton, Gayle Sayers, and Matt Forte, to name a few. Fournette could run himself into that company.

4. Jaguars: I believe the Jaguars would run to the podium if Fournette happens to be there at number 4. This is why I think a team will trade up to #3 to snatch him away from an obvious landing spot. The Jaguars had some real issues running the ball in 2016, and honestly, since Maurice Jones-Drew left. In fact, Blake Bortles is the current Jaguars rushing leader with 1,088 yards and 5 TDs. They need Fournette, badly. The question is: Will they get him?

5. Titans: The Titans, like the Bears, have two very good running backs. They don’t need to upgrade the position. If they take the “best player available”, that should be Fournette. You can make arguments for Lattimore, Adams, or any number of players. In reality, teams do draft for need most of the time.

6. Jets: One of the things the Jets have done in recent history is run the ball early and often. They have relied on backs such as Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, and Chris Ivory in recent history. Forte is a great back, but is in the twilight of his career. He may have one good season left. No better time to reload than with a possible All-Pro like Fournette. I think the Jets would run to the podium, but Jacksonville would probably say no to that. The Jets are my #3 pick to move up a couple spots to #3.

7. Chargers: The Chargers invested a first round pick in Melvin Gordon in 2015, so they probably are out of the Leonard Fournette sweepstakes. That being said, Fournette would come in and take the position away from Gordon. The Chargers have many other needs though, and can’t seem to keep wide receivers on the field.

8. Panthers: Rumor is, the Panthers want to get back to a power running game. They currently have Jonathan Stewart, who has some power to his game, but is 29, and has a history of various injuries. A team built to run the ball and play defense is perfect for Fournette. He could complement, and take pressure off Cam Newton. They are my #2 team to trade up to #3 and take him.

9. Bengals: The Bengals have had a running back by committee for the last couple seasons. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard have done decent jobs for Cincinnati, but would be second stringers next to Fournette. This would help out Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense immensely. As you can see, there is little hope for Fournette sliding past at least 3 teams that could really use him. I don’t see the Bengals trading up, but did anyone see the Falcons trading up to get Julio Jones in 2011?

10. Bills: LeSean “shady” McCoy is the Bills current running back. He is 28, and has lots of mileage on his “tires”. If he can stay healthy, he probably has 2 solid years left, and maybe 3-4. Given running back is not a need, and the 3-4 other teams that will gobble up Fournette, we can probably cross the Bills off the list.

Outside looking in: The Colts, Redskins, Ravens, Broncos, Lions, Giants, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Packers all could use a running back. A couple of those teams, might even be 1 or two players away. It could be worth moving up to land a generational player at the position. Like most teams though, they will settle on lesser backs, who can get the job done. Will one of those teams kick the tires on trading up? Nobody can answer that question. That’s one of those things that will make this year’s first round so compelling. We will find out in less than two weeks.

 

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Brawl of the week: An Ancient Recipe (Un’Goro edition)

This week’s Tavern Brawl is: An Ancient Recipe. I thought we have had it before, but I don’t see anything with this title in my previous titles. This brawl lets you pick your hero and gives you a deck filled with cards that make up the “Legendary quest” recipe for that class.

I picked a rogue, because a) it’s fun b) I am familiar with it, and most importantly, c) it kicks a lot of ass!

Choosing your hero never became more significant (and fun) as it is in this brawl.

That said, it took me a couple cracks at it. I came up 1 lousy health point short of a win my first go. The second time, vs a Warrior deck was more fruitful. The sore loser chose to let his last 2 turns run out (they hit “end turn” before so they would get fresh time the next round) before they “left” the game. Couldn’t even bother to hit concede. At any rate, I got my win for the week.

This is an absolutely great brawl to play each class and see how their legendary quest plays. I can tell you right now, there will be lots of rogues, and priests. Have fun with it. Explore each class (unless you have made certain ones). Look up guides to play the decks if you need to. Most of them are straight forward, but some need a little practice to play. Hope you enjoy the brawl and take advantage of what it has to offer. See you next week!

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Brawl of the week: Valeera’s Bag of Burgled Spells (again)

This week’s Tavern Brawl is: Valeera’s Bag of Burgled Spells. We have had this brawl at least once before. It’s random, but I’d say random in a good way. Simply: Your deck is full of random spells from every class. For every spell you cast, you summon a random minion of the same cost.

Both heroes play Valeera (perhaps they could have thrown Maiev into the mix?). I would have to say the player with 4 cards might have the distinct advantage. It all comes down to what kind of cards you get.

I was lucky to get a few removal cards, which takes care of my opponents minions, and leaves me a minion on the board.

It was actually a pretty even battle until it wasn’t. Then I was left with a bunch of minions on my side.

My opponent was a very poor sport, who let the timer run out then left when they were down to 2 health.

Back to the original Hearthstone pack for a reward!

So get on in there, and if you are on the unfortunate end of a battle, don’t be a jerk. All the other player wants to do is have a little fun and get on with their day! Have fun, and see you next week!

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Bears in perfect position with #3 overall pick

The Bears currently have the #3 overall pick in the upcoming 2017 NFL draft. For the first time in decades, they are in the perfect position. They can easily stay put and get a heck of a quality player, or trade back, get a solid player, and more picks. Let me tell you why they will have at least a couple trading partners.

Even though there is no “top quarterback” in this year’s draft, the Bears are sitting pretty. The first two picks, are almost a consensus at this point. Defensive end Myles Garrett should go #1 to the Browns. Another defensive end, Solomon Thomas should go #2 to the 49ers. Thomas might even be a more versatile player. This leaves the Bears at #3 to have their pick of the top safety, cornerback, or any other position besides defensive end, which is great. What’s even better, there are a handful of players worth trading up for. I’ll break this down next.

Leonard Fornette, running back: LSU- Fournette has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson, which I don’t necessarily disagree with. However, he’s a little bigger, and a little thicker. Fournette has already proven he can bounce back from a leg injury, and be the same player he was before. As it stands right now, the consensus is he will go #4 to the Jaguars. I can see that happening, but because of Ezekiel Elliott’s success last year (he went #4 to Dallas) I can see someone moving up to get him. I have two teams in mind. The first one is the Cleveland Browns who have an embarrassment of riches in terms of draft picks this year. They can’t use them all (won’t have roster spots), so why not come back into the first round and possibly land the best RB in this year’s draft. They have the firepower, and could use the talent.

My second team is the Carolina Panthers. I was originally thinking Fournette might be there when they pick at #8, but Fournette had a really nice combine, and has been projected to go #4 for a couple weeks now. This is outstanding for the Bears. Fournette would be a great fit in Carolina, who typically like a power runner.

The Jets could be an outside player for Fournette, or be interested in a top cornerback such as Ohio State corner Marshon Lattimore. Safety Jamal Adams could be a lure for the Jets, or several other teams.

Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, Ohio State- Typically teams don’t move up for conerbacks. This year there are a handful of good ones. To me, Lattimore is the clear #1 CB, the next 4-5 are all kind of bunched up. That being said, the Jets, Titans, and Chargers could all use an elite CB.

Jamal Adams, safety: LSU- Jamal Adams is considered to be a top talent at the safety position (I happen to like Jabril Peppers a little bit better). He is a hitter, a smart player, and has better ball skills than Peppers, who played linebacker for most of 2016. Adams could easily be coveted by many teams in the top 10, and possibly a few outside. The only downside is safety might be the deepest position in this year’s draft.

A top wide receiver. There is an outside chance that a team might want to move up ahead of the Jaguars or Titans to select one of the top wide receivers. There aren’t as many as in past years. Would Corey Davis or Mike Williams be worthy of a top five pick? I can’t answer that, but stranger things have happened.

A third defensive end, or first defensive tackle- Pre-combine Jonathan Allen was looking like he would be a top 3-5 pick. He has since slid a little, but still valued as a top defensive talent. A third defensive end, perhaps Tennessee DE Derek Barnett could have some allure to a team desperate for a pass rusher. I could see any of the teams from 6-10 making that move.

I would be delighted if the Bears stayed at #3 and took either Lattimore or Adams, but I am really hoping they trade down, pick up an extra pick or two. They will be drafting at the top of every round, so they have a good chance of really upgrading the talent. You can check out my “dream scenario” in both of my mock drafts listed below!

Related: 5 players in top 10

NFL mock draft 1-16, NFL mock draft 17-32

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Fantasy Impact: 2017 NFL Mock Draft (17-32)

Part 2 of my NFL mock draft. As with part 1, it’s done entirely from a Fantasy Football perspective. These are where I would like the players to go based on their impact on the Fantasy side of things. More wishing and hoping than actual guessing. It’s a little less stressful, and a lot more fun. Let’s go!

17. Redskins: Takkarist McKinley, LB: UCLA- The Redskins might have had their sights on one of the three dynamic running backs, but would be thrilled if McKinley is still on the board here. I could see them going wide receiver if they choose to stay on offense.

18. Titans: John Ross, WR: Washington- They have the running game going. Marcus Mariota could use another target in the passing game. They lost Kendall Wright. Tight end Delanie Walker isn’t getting any younger. David Njoku would make a nice pick here too. Ross’ speed might be too good to pass up.

19. Bears: (from Buccaneers): Deshaun Watson, QB: Clemson- The Bears use a pick from the Browns and another of their 2nd round picks to move back into round 1 to snatch Watson as their future QB. Since they signed Mike Glennon, Watson can sit back and learn the ropes for a year or two.

20. Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT: Utah- The Broncos could easily take a receiver or running back, but I think bolstering the offensive line makes their entire offense better.

21. Lions: Ryan Ramczyk, OL: Wisconsin- Like the Broncos, the Lions have needs on offense as well. They haven’t been able to effectively run the ball in years, and that starts up front. There are enough running backs to be able to snag one in round two or even three. Ramczyk could probably play anywhere on the line, but I think he ┬ámakes an impact as a guard or right tackle.

22. Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB: North Carolina- The Browns are at it again and trade back into round 1 to grab their QB of the future. I’m not sure how far they will have to go, but something tells me getting ahead of the Giants. They might have to move up even a little further.

23. Giants: TJ Watt, LB: Wisconsin- Nobody drafts pass rushers better than the NY football Giants. Watt, the younger brother of JJ Watt, is more in the mold of a Clay Mathews Jr, should help the G-men get after the QB.

24. Raiders: Fabian Moreau, CB: UCLA- The Raiders have always coveted speed. Although Al Davis is no longer around, I feel they get back to that this year. I also like Obi Melifonwu out of Connecticut if they fancy speed at the Safety position a little more. Either way, they need to get faster on defense.

25. Texans: Tre’Davious White, CB: LSU- A quarterback you say? That might be a sexier pick. The Browns let them off the hook from Osweiler. Not sure they are ready to make the plunge on one of the top 2-3 QBs.

26. Seahawks: Taco Charlton, DE: Michigan- Seahawks keep rebuilding their defense. The ‘Hawks are currently “shopping” cornerback Richard Sherman, so that could impact this pick.

27. Chiefs: Alvin Kamara, RB: Tennessee- As much as I would like to hop on the “DeShone Kizer train”, the Chiefs are looking to get back to the playoffs. They need a decent running back. Kamara is decent at worst, and could be special. I could also see them upgrading the offensive line. The Giants and Seahawks could very well take a RB ahead of the Chiefs.

28. Cowboys: Obi Melifonwu, Safety: Connecticut- The Cowboys shore up the back end of their defense with the speedy, and athletic DB.

29. Packers: Tim Williams, DE: Alabama- The Packers lost Julius Peppers, and even with him–he and Clay Matthews Jr. were not enough to put consistent pressure on opposing QBs.

30. Steelers: Budda Baker, Safety: Washington- The safety class is deep this year…I like the talk about Pittsburgh looking for an heir to Ben Roethlisburger. I think #30 might be too early for a team still looking to be competitive. Pat Mahomes is the name I like. Kind of a less polished version of Big Ben.

31. Falcons: Cooper Kupp, WR: Eastern Washington- I was thinking, what could the Falcons do to be a little more dynamic on offense this late in the round. Then it hit me: Cooper Kupp. He might not be as flashy as some wide receivers, but he runs good routes and can catch. He is sneaky fast, maybe a half step slower than Jordy Nelson. How does that sound Atlanta? I don’t really think Njoku will be here; but as I say that, I have not placed him anywhere in the draft. It’s possible someone moves up into the mid-late 20s to get him. I could see Atlanta taking him here too.

32. Saints (from Patriots): Desmond King, CB: Iowa- King is one of the top cornerbacks in the draft. He might not even be here. I also have a strong feeling that the Saints will be getting offers by many teams trading up for this spot.

There it is. So many good players to put into 32 picks. This year’s draft is really strong. There are easily 10-15 players who could fill up this list. I still can’t believe I didn’t find a “home” for David Njoku. I think he will end up being a first round pick. I just don’t know where. I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did making it! Good luck to all your teams (even the Packers!)

Picks (1-16)

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Brawl of the week: The Masked Ball (again)

This week’s Tavern Brawl is one we have had before: The Masked Ball. It basically plays like this: You play a minion, when it dies, it comes back as something else that costs (2) less. It spawns right on the board though. You pick your hero, and build a deck.

Strut your stuff and show them who you really are!

This is a great brawl for people who don’t have a lot of fancy cards. I find this to be one of the more interesting brawls. I got mine done with a warrior deck filled with Battlecry minions. Since you can pick any class, you can get any and all dailies done.

Each minion you play should get a Deathrattle. Which opens the door for that synergy.

The reward goes back to original packs of Hearthstone cards. I was hoping we might stick with Whispers of the Old Gods, or Mean Streets of Gadgetzan packs, but no. Back to the beginning!

Overwhelm your opponent until they crumble!

So get on in there and earn your free pack. See what kind of deck you can come up with to win, and/or frustrate your opponent! Have fun, and see you next week!

Booooring! ( I kid! I still don’t have all the original cards. Lots of good ones left!)

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