The Schein Nine  

 

Chicago Bears earn no style points, but winning all that matters

Tim Heitman/US Presswire
Stop us if you've heard this before: Brian Urlacher (54) and the 6-1 Chicago Bears are getting it done on defense.

The league doesn't give you points for style. So don't downgrade the Chicago Bears.

Plus, we explain why the Washington Redskins should cut DeAngelo Hall, examine the future for football in London and Los Angeles, and give you Week 9 picks in the latest edition of The Schein Nine.

1) Bear down

Don't be a hater. Don't overanalyze the Bears based on their performance the past two weeks. I don't want to hear that they only played the Detroit Lions (a 13-7 victory) and the Carolina Panthers (a 23-22 win) and easily could have lost both games. Actually, I came away even more impressed with Chicago after those games.

Chicago is 6-1, but will get no points for style. That's OK. They used defense to beat a divison foe in Detroit and showed resilience in coming from behind to beat a ticked-off Panthers bunch. The effort the Bears put on display was outstanding and a true statement.

I also don't want to hear that the Bears have a cupcake game Sunday in Tennessee. Anyone remember when the Titans beat the Steelers a few weeks ago on the NFL Network? Chris Johnson has recaptured the magic. Matt Hasselbeck is a stabilizing presence at quarterback. Mike Munchak always has his team ready.

Let's dig deeper on this team. The Bears are doing remarkable things. I currently have both Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman listed as first team All-Pro corners. (I am one of the 50 voters for the Associated Press team.) Strong safety Major Wright and defensive tackle Henry Melton have played incredibly well.

Say what you want about Jay Cutler's demeanor, but make sure you include the fact that he's had a solid season. The line has done a better job in pass protection without the overrated, pass-happy Mike Martz calling plays. New coordinator Mike Tice has added balance. Cutler's rapport with wide receiver Brandon Marshall is outstanding. And it makes the other receivers, from Devin Hester to Alshon Jeffery to Earl Bennett, that much better.

The Bears suffocate and score on defense. They grind it out and score on offense. And they have one of the best special teams units in the game. What's scary is that Chicago, in theory, will get better as Brian Urlacher and Matt Forte get healthier.

I'm on the record as saying that hiring general manager Phil Emery was the best move of the offseason. He nailed the Marshall trade and the Shea McClellin draft pick, and he retained Lovie Smith, who is a contender for Coach of the Year.

It's not always pretty, but Chicago is getting it done.

2) A watershed moment for Raider Nation

Coach Dennis Allen is one win away from having the Oakland Raiders at 4-4 midway through the season. That would be nothing short of remarkable, and Allen is cognizant of what Sunday represents.

"It's a big deal after how we started," he said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Our guys believe in what we are doing. If we do those things, we will win."

I like the Raiders to beat the plucky Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

3) Game of the week

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In the preseason, one might not have thought the matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts was going to amount to much. But I think it's the best game on Sunday. The winner will be 5-3 and very much in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has done an outstanding job with his team. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle also deserves high praise. But I like the Colts to win on Sunday. After talking to Indianapolis running back Donald Brown this week, it's clear to me that this team is confident following the divisional win on the road against the Tennessee Titans. I think Andrew Luck and the Colts, who seem to have a knack for winning, will make more plays Sunday in the passing attack.

4) What can Brown do for you?

Stevie Brown has bounced around in his career, but he is now an irreplaceable weapon in the New York Giants' defensive backfield. Coach Tom Coughlin told reporters this week that he will find time for Brown even when Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips both return to health at safety. Of course he will. Brown has been the defensive MVP for the Giants in the first half. When Brown spoke to me on SiriusXM NFL Radio, he credited coordinator Perry Fewell's system, but he also has a talent for making plays.

5) Stark Ravens mad

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In a matter of three weeks, the Baltimore Ravens have seemingly fallen off the map as a respectable team in the AFC, despite their 5-2 record. The Ravens have given up 180 rushing yards or more in three straight games, but have had a bye week to lick their wounds after getting pasted by the Houston Texans. In theory, Cleveland Browns rookie Trent Richardson should pound the Baltimore run defense. He should also be the second-best runner on the field. I expect the prideful Ravens to come out swinging. Hopefully, coach John Harbaugh reminded offensive coordinator Cam Cameron that Ray Rice is the best player on the team, and that the offense should run through him.

6) Browns looking better

Congrats to the Cleveland Browns, who have surpassed the 1-15 record I'd predicted for them this season! The defense has improved greatly over the past three weeks, and young cornerback Joe Haden has blossomed into a star. This unit should give Baltimore yet another reason to deflate the ball; the Ravens should not let Joe Flacco test Haden and Sheldon Brown. Speaking on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Haden gave a ton of credit to defensive coordinator Dick Jauron for his preparation.

But as I wrote on Tuesday, Browns fans shouldn't let these two wins cloud their thinking regarding what's next for coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert. They are done at the end of the year.

7) DeAngelo Hall should've been suspended

I thought the incident Sunday in Pittsburgh was scary. I thought he should have been suspended and not just fined. I told Roger Goodell as much when we talked on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week. I told Goodell I was afraid for the ref's safety.

The 'Skins should make a statement and cut him. This team has too many good vibes with Robert Griffin III to deal with a clown like Hall.

8) California dreaming

During a wide-ranging interview I conducted with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, Goodell made it clear that he wants football back in Los Angeles. And it should be, considering that L.A. is the country's No. 2 media market. I don't want to hear that having the Rams and Raiders in L.A. didn't work. Look at the success that hockey's Kings, baseball's Dodgers and basketball's Clippers have had this past year. If you build a team up the right way and they offer an entertaining product, the fans will come. Then, after Goodell said there's been "some progress" in this area, he mentioned this: "It could be one team, could be two teams."

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9) London bound

There is no question Goodell wants an NFL franchise in London. However, I think basing a team there would be a mistake and a logistical nightmare. I don't think the organization would be able to attract the best players and coaches, who would be fearful of the travel grind.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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