By Jeff Joniak-
(WBBM) I find it interesting that Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson feels Sunday night’s showdown with the Bears at Soldier Field, may be the “biggest” game in the decade long history of the franchise.
If all the eggs are in one basket, with nearly two months left in the season, what happens if the Texans lose to the Bears? Johnson doesn’t leave much wiggle room for a team that played a pair of playoff games after winning 10 games in 2011. I would think those were big!
It’s not even a conference game.
The 49ers game in San Francisco by comparison is much more significant for the Bears, given the NFC playoff picture, but even then the season isn’t over if the Bears stumble in both games.
I guess it’s all a matter of perception.
Many will believe the championship viability of both teams hinges on their ability to beat a quality opponent. It is rare to have two 7-1 teams colliding in Week 9. I didn’t realize how rare until I read the Houston Texans game notes which said this game marks only the third time in the last 20 years that teams with one or fewer losses are playing one another after Week 8.
It’s a big game for now. There are bigger ones ahead in December for both teams.
“It is what it is,” Bears defensive back Kelvin Hayden said. “Both teams are 7-and-1, but that doesn’t mean anything in November.”
I get it that Houston is a young franchise. Every conquering moment becomes a stepping stone to a greater goal, but I just can’t call it “the most important” game.
It promises to be a “fun” game.
“Every week is a test for us,” Brian Urlacher said. “Every team has good personnel. This team has good personnel and a good scheme. They run it really well … luckily we’re playing at home.”
There is a lot to this game between teams that are doing a lot of great things. It’s interesting that both starting quarterbacks had their 2011 seasons extinguished by injuries after 10-games. Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler both finished with 7-3 records.
Houston found a way to win three of their final six games with T.J. Yates at quarterback and earn a playoff trip. The Bears found a way to lose five of their final six games and miss the playoffs.
Schaub and Cutler are still winning with identical 14-4 records in the last 18-games. In those games, Schaub has thrown 27 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and has been sacked 26 times. Cutler has thrown 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and has been sacked 51 times.
Protecting the quarterbacks could determine how big of a game this really winds up being.
Ultimately, Andre Johnson’s statement is a sign of respect for the Bears.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Bears on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffJoniak.