Super Bowl LVI is set. The biggest game on the football calendar pits the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angels Rams, who are their counterparts from the NFC. We’ve got 13 days until that one kicks off, which means there is plenty of time between now and game time to sort through the madness.
First thing on the docket: Why are we still using Roman numerals? And are they still teaching them in school? Or are our children learning Roman numerals the same way Bart Simpson did in the “Lemon of Troy” episode?
• Here is a thing that is happening later this morning:
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) January 28, 2022
• There is so much I want to hear from new Head Coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles. At the top of the list, I want to hear that these two will legitimately be working together moving forward. There were too many times during the Ryan Pace era in which it felt like he was working against the best interest of his coaches. Whether it was playing coy with the Mitchell Trubisky pick while John Fox was his head coach. Or not properly addressing Matt Nagy’s desire to add skilled speed on offense. Even down to sticking defensive coordinator Sean Desai with just one usable starting-caliber cornerback last year. There were too many moments when things looked way too disjointed. When it comes to collaboration, don’t just talk about it — be about it.
• Weird football factoid: The Bears played this year’s Super Bowl participants in Weeks 1 and 2 of the season. That Week 1 drubbing against the Rams probably should’ve been seen as a sign of things to come. Then again, that Week 2 win against the Bengals in which Chicago forced turnovers on four consecutive possessions wasn’t a harbinger of doom for Cincinnati’s season. Even still … I’ll be keeping an eye on who is on the Bears’ schedule at the start of next year. For research purposes, of course.
• Another football oddity:
From @ESPNStatsInfo: Matthew Stafford had lost 26 straight starts including playoffs when trailing by 10+ points entering the 4th quarter, including 0-4 this season.
The Rams had been 0-14 under Sean McVay including playoffs when trailing by 10+ points entering the 4th quarter.
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) January 31, 2022
• If history is indicative of the past, then I like the Bengals in the Super Bowl. The last time the Bears beat a Super Bowl participant was in 2020 when they took down Tom Brady and the Buccaneers at Soldier Field. Of course, it was helpful when an older gentleman had to battle memory fog in a key moment of the game. That said gentlemen went on TikTok to explain himself was a nice touch.
• I always feel as if I take away something worthwhile from Conference Championship Sunday. This year, is that cowardice never pays off:
SF decided to punt to LAR from the LAR 45* on 4th & 2* with 9:55 remaining in the 4th while winning 17 to 14.
With a Surrender Index of 5.16, this punt ranks at the 88th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 84th percentile of all punts since 1999.
— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) January 31, 2022
• The Niners were never the same after that punt.
• It’s gonna be a long offseason for these guys:
John Lynch is greeting every 49ers player and coach as they enter a solemn locker room. Quick, brief handshakes. Except for one. pic.twitter.com/JcvD376cLe
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 31, 2022
• Jaquiski Tartt had a Brant Brown moment. IYKYK:
Jaquiski Tartt drops a dime from Matthew Stafford
— PFF (@PFF) January 31, 2022
• But he won’t let it define him:
Jaquiski Tartt took responsibility for dropping a potential interception. pic.twitter.com/YgpG2j7XMt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 31, 2022
• I was having a good laugh with some friends about how some risky in-season wagering. There was a point in the middle of the year when I took a cash-out option on a Rams Super Bowl futures bet (+750) that I wasn’t feeling good about at the moment. I was able to get back what I put in, then re-invested it in a Bengals 20-to-1 Super Bowl ticket. And now both teams are playing each other in the Super Bowl. That is pretty wild.
• Then again, it isn’t as wild as this:
• As a personal reminder from me to you, please wager responsibly.
• Unsurprisingly, there is outrage in some corners because the Bears did not discuss the Bears head coach job opening with Jim Harbaugh:
— Dan Pompei (@danpompei) January 31, 2022
• Don’t get me wrong. I wanted everyone who was worth interviewing at Halas Hall at some point. But if your franchise wasn’t willing to give Jim Harbaugh the things you’d expect him to want if he were to leave Michigan for a return to the NFL, why waste time with a token interview? Again, I would’ve had an interest in the Bears having worthwhile conversations with Harbaugh. But the Bears have new leadership in place, and I am ready to see what they do with the clean slate they are given.
• An interesting tidbit about each of the Bears’ high-profile newcomers is that they arrive in Chicago with a background that features some variety. Eberflus worked in three different organizations (Browns, Cowboys, Colts) and at two universities (Toledo, Missouri) before landing a head-coaching gig. Assistant GM Ian Cunningham was with the Ravens and Eagles before finding his way to become Poles’ right-hand man.
• Even Poles, whose résumé shows the Chiefs as the only NFL org he has been with, has experience under three different regimes (Pioli, Dorsey, Veach) from his time in Kansas City. So even he has three different philosophies from which to pull. It is a stark change of direction when comparing to Pace (only the Saints) and Nagy (only Andy Reid). None of that is to say that this thing will work in Chicago. However, I can appreciate this as a sign that the Bears’ upper management has learned from its past. Hopefully, this isn’t overcorrection for the sake of it.
• Valentine’s goodies, earbuds, inversion tables, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad
• Beep beep! The Bulls are back in the win column!
• Good for Kirby Dach:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 30, 2022