Chicago Bears v New England Patriots
Getty Images

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


If Chicago wants to look for evidence that there are indeed building blocks in place and the future may be bright, they'll look no further than last night. The Bears went to Foxborough and imposed their will on the Patriots, dominating in all facets in a 33-14 win.

  • The Bears racked up 243 rushing yards, their second straight 200-yard ground game. The last time they had two straight was 1985... when they won the Super Bowl.
  • Justin Fields was terrific with 179 passing yards, 82 rushing yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).
  • The Bears forced four turnovers: Rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker had interceptions -- as did star linebacker Roquan Smith -- and Justin Jones recovered a fumble.
  • The Bears converted 11 3rd downs, their most in a game since 2015. Fields accounted for 10 of those 11 -- five with his arm, five with his legs.

Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy devised a plan to make the most of Fields' skill set, and he returned the favor with one of his best games as a pro, writes NFL expert Cody Benjamin.

  • Benjamin: "They finally figured out how to put Fields in a position to win. ... Chicago allowed its young QB to lean on his legs, and the signal-caller did his part, showcasing extra effort and elite vision on designed carries to pace a rushing attack also featuring tough touches from David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. In between, he hit just enough downfield shots, including a critical late one to tight end Cole Kmet, to keep the Patriots on their toes."

The Bears made franchise history in the process, too.


Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...


The Patriots entered Monday night with lots of momentum and their starting quarterback returning. They left with no momentum and more quarterback questions than answers.

  • Mac Jones, in his first game action since Week 3 due to an ankle injury, played sparingly and threw an interception.
  • Bailey Zappe replaced Jones and led consecutive touchdown drives to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead. New England, however, would not score another point, and Zappe went on to throw two interceptions and have a lost fumble.
  • Perhaps just as concerning was the defense: The Bears entered Monday averaging 15.5 points per game, 31st in the NFL, and the 243 rushing yards allowed were most ever in a home loss under Bill Belichick.

The Patriots' quarterback "controversy" entering Monday was whether both Jones and Zappe could capably lead the team. Now, Belichick and company must figure if either can.

Matt Ryan benched; Sam Ehlinger takes over behind center 🏈

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts
Getty Images

Another year, another half-hearted Colts attempt at a quarterback solution gone awry. Monday, head coach Frank Reich announced Sam Ehlinger will be the starter for the rest of the season over Matt Ryan, who suffered shoulder injury in Sunday's 19-10 loss to the Titans. You can learn more about Ehlinger here.

This is a nice promotion for Ehlinger, whose strong preseason earned him a roster spot. But he's extremely unlikely to be the long-term answer or, really, the short-term answer, and it's time to declare the Ryan trade -- and Indianapolis' approach to the quarterback position -- a failure.

  • Ryan, 37, leads the league in interceptions (nine) and turnovers (12) and is tied for the lead in sacks taken (24). His 5.8 air yards per attempt is last among qualified quarterbacks.
  • The Colts sent a third-round pick to Atlanta this offseason in exchange for Ryan. Ryan is guaranteed at least $12 million in 2023, and if the Colts cut Ryan, he carries $18 million of dead money next year.

Unfortunately for Indianapolis fans, this is nothing new. Ryan was the franchise's sixth different Week 1 starter in as many years. Here's how they've turned out:

  • 2022: Matt Ryan -- benched after seven games
  • 2021: Carson Wentz -- acquired in offseason, traded after team loses final two games and misses playoffs
  • 2020: Philip Rivers -- loses in Wild Card round, retires
  • 2019: Jacoby Brissett -- starts 15 games, team misses playoffs
  • 2018: Andrew Luck -- Wins Comeback Player of the Year, team makes Divisional Round of playoffs; shockingly retires shortly before 2019 season
  • 2017: Scott Tolzien -- Starts Week 1 with Luck out for season; Brissett starts other 15 games; team goes 4-12

As we've seen with many teams this year -- Indianapolis, Washington, Carolina, New Orleans and Pittsburgh -- you can't be halfway-in, halfway-out at quarterback. It simply doesn't work.

Indianapolis has a strong core of standouts. Running back Jonathan Taylor is one of the game's best at his position. Same with linebacker Shaquille Leonard, guard Quenton Nelson and cornerback Kenny Moore II. But the inability to find a quarterback has -- and will continue to -- cost them dearly.

Not so honorable mention

There's nothing wrong with the new MLB playoff format ⚾

Getty Images

The first year of the 12-team MLB playoff produced the first six seed -- the Phillies -- to ever make a World Series. While much of the focus was on the thrilling late-season NL East battle between the Mets and the Braves, the Phillies snuck into the postseason field with just 87 wins.

Our MLB expert Matt Snyder has heard the internet's complaints about the Phillies making it this far and, thus, complaints about the new, expanded playoff that allowed them in in the first place. But to Matt, the various complaints are easily disproved.

  • Snyder: "'The regular season is rendered meaningless' -- No, it's not at all. Not meaningless, but at least this complaint is the closest one to being grounded in reality. ... Still, what's the alternative? The one-game wild card was incredibly fun theater, but only one game determining who moves on after a 162-game marathon isn't really how baseball is supposed to operate. The entire season is a set of series. That's what makes this sport unique. Now the playoffs reflect that again."

This was a great look into the new format and its benefits, and I'm on board with Matt's reasoning. As he also notes, just 40 percent of MLB teams make the playoffs, lower than the NBA (53 percent), NHL (50 percent) and NFL (44 percent). The Phillies have simply played their best at the right time. That concept -- that a team can come out of nowhere to have a chance to win it all -- is one of the best things about sports.

Where could Aaron Judge end up? Rankings all 30 teams ⚾

Getty Images

Aaron Judge is a free agent. That's a sentence that will make Yankees fans more than a little nervous after Judge belted an AL-record 62 home runs and nearly won the Triple Crown. It was one of the best regular seasons ever. Whether it was his last in pinstripes is to be determined.

Our MLB reporter R.J. Anderson assessed all 30 teams as potential landing spots, and the Yankees are still No. 1.

  • Anderson: "Yes, this is the coward's choice, and yes, they've heretofore failed to lock down Judge. There are several factors at play that could coerce a greater sense of urgency from them when the two sides talk again this winter. For one, Brian Cashman has to know his team would be far worse off without Judge in tow. For another, the Yankees seldom let their homegrown stars leave in free agency (Robinson Canó is the exception), and it would be a hard sell to let Judge walk after he toppled Maris' record."

But there are three other teams in R.J.'s "Favorites" category. Judge's free agency will be a fascinating one.

UEFA Champions League Matchday 5 preview ⚽

Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League returns today with eight matches, all streaming on Paramount+. Here's the schedule.

  • Red Bull Salzburg vs. Chelsea, 12:45 p.m.
  • Sevilla vs. FC Copenhagen, 12:45 p.m.
  • Paris Saint-Germain vs. Maccabi Haifa, 3 p.m. (preview)
  • Borussia Dortmund vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m.
  • Dinamo Zagreb vs. AC Milan, 3 p.m.
  • Benfica vs. Juventus, 3 p.m. (preview)
  • Celtic vs. Shakhtar Donetsk, 3 p.m.
  • RB Leipzig vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. (preview)

You can see our experts' Matchday 5 predictions here and soccer reporter James Benge's Round of 16 predictions here.

What we're watching Tuesday 📺

UEFA Champions League, 12:45 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 Mavericks at Pelicans, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏒 Avalanche at Rangers, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Warriors at Suns, 10 p.m. on TNT
🏒 Golden Knights at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN