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I think I might finally be buying into this 2018 Bears team. They locked up an NFC North division title by beating the Packers this past weekend, and might still be able to clinch home field advantage if the Bears can beat the 49ers and Vikings, and if the Rams and Saints manage to drop their last two games. In fact, the Bears have the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Rams, and would be the second seed if they tie. I don't think it's gonna happen, but it is possible...

While the Bears do seem to finally have a complete team with talent at every level of both the offense and defense, I really feel like most of the credit deserves to go to first year head coach Matt Nagy. After suffering through the years of Mark Trestman and John Fox, I am finally happy with Chicago's coach hiring decision. Nagy is regularly out-scheming and out-coaching the Bears' opponents and putting his players in position to make plays and let their talent shine. Trading for Khalil Mach from the Raiders seems to have pushed the Bears from a good team to a legit playoff contender. Finally, this organization is making the right decisions!

I was actually pleasantly surprised to be in this position. I had some initial concerns with the hiring of Nagy. He's an offensive-minded coach with the pedigree of one of the best QB coaches of all time, Andy Reid. Chicago has tried hiring offensive-minded coaches, and they have all failed miserably. Nagy was also coming off of an offensive collapse by the Chiefs in the playoffs, so there was some doubt about whether he was really as good as Alex Smith's Pro Bowl-level performance was making Nagy look. My expectations were not particularly high. I figured that Nagy would get a better performance out of the offense than Trestman and Fox (and even Lovie Smith) were ever able to do. He also benefits from not being burdened with having to deal with Jay Cutler. But I prefer watching smash-mouth football with dominant defense and a battering run attack. I was not expecting that from Nagy's team.

Nagy is really getting quality performances out of his players.

I was wrong. The Bears are playing "Bears football". The kind of football that I love to watch. They are devouring teams defensively, and making the offense look good by giving them plenty of opportunities with the ball. What's really surprising me, however, is that the offense looks to be genuinely good on its own. Unlike that 2006 Bears' Superbowl run, this team's defense does not appear to be carrying the offense.

Aside from a pretty bad game against the Rams (in which the defense did carry the team to a victory), Mitch Trubisky has been looking great. Nagy definitely appears to have brought that Andy Reid pedigree along with him. I personally feel that Trubisky is maybe an above-average quarterback at best, but Nagy's coaching and play-calling is making Trubisky look like a borderline Pro Bowl candidate. If only he weren't competing with the likes of Drew Brees and Jered Goff.

Trubisky looked bad against the Rams, and the defense had to carry the team.

Nagy is drawing up creative plays left and right, and seems to be completely beating opponents psychologically. This is the kind of mental victory that I've come to only expect from the Patriots. They're running cute and creative little end-arounds and shovel passes to convert short TDs and 2-point conversions. They've been putting defensive linemen in on short running plays to power into the endzone, Refrigerator Perry-style. Then they're taking advantage of the defense's knowledge of that tendency to run trick passes to uncovered eligible-tackles in the end zone. Both the offense and the defense have been a real treat to watch. The only thing this team is missing is Devin Hester returning kicks and Brian Urlacher chasing people down from the center of the defense.

I'm not sure how much involvement Nagy has on the defensive play-calling and coaching, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is doing a fantastic job now that he finally has all the pieces to make his defensive scheme work. Khalil Mack is getting a lot of the attention, but Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson are also playing phenomenal defense.

The Bears are out-scheming opponents, and beating them psychologically.

All that being said, I am still very afraid of having to see the Rams again in the playoffs. The Bears beat the Rams in primetime of week 14, but a lot of that had to do with bad play by St. Louis -- particularly by Jared Goff. Goff should know better, but he never looked comfortable in that game, and made bad play after bad play. I fully expect the Rams (and Goff) to learn a lot of lessons from that week 14 loss, and if the Bears see them again in the playoffs, the Rams should be better equipped to pick this defense apart.

That is, unless Matt Nagy and Vic Fangio come up with another genius gameplan. And for the first time since the Lovie Smith / Ron Rivera days, I actually have confidence in the Bears' coaching staff to do that.

And here's Khalil Mack sacking Aaron Rogers while turned around backwards, because this might never get old.

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