As we inch our way closer to finding clarity on what the unbeaten Bears really are, I also am trying to get my head around what the NFL really is in 2010. Maybe three weeks won't give us enough evidence to reach any conclusions.
I always have been content to be a football ham-and-egger. Nintendo football be damned.
As a result, my heart is warmed because most of the teams with an early leg up are doing it by running the ball and stopping the run.
From the Bears' perspective, however, this poses challenges. The Bears have the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense (39.7 yards per game), but nobody has challenged them to a street fight yet.
The Packers didn't even pretend to be committed to running it Monday night. Was that Jim Taylor getting the bulk of carries while Ryan Grant replacement Brandon Jackson merely was wearing a green-and-gold costume?
Only the Texans, ranked second against the run, have faced fewer rushing attempts than the Bears (56-54). The Steelers are third against the run and have the third-ranked rushing offense.
And the Steelers, without their quarterback, haven't lost.
Neither have the Chiefs, whose 160.7 rushing yards per game ranks first. Kansas City has two running backs in the top 10, Jamaal Charles (seventh) and Thomas Jones (T-10th).
Still a passing league?
Julius Peppers has dazzled as a pass rusher and Brian Urlacher looks like 2006 Urlacher, but the Bears haven't proved they're a complete defense. In fairness — because they're sensitive about all that is written and said — they haven't been asked to be.
Don't be surprised if Tom Coughlin employs a simple, gum-it-up game plan Sunday night when the Bears go to New York. Nothing would cure the 1-2 Giants' ills faster than landing haymakers all night on NBC and taking down one of only three unbeatens.
The Giants have to get out of their own way first. They can move the ball — Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks looked sweet in Week 1 — but they're minus-4 in turnover margin and have averaged eight penalties.
Those aren't Coughlin trademarks and are among the reasons his seat is hotter than ever.
Meanwhile, Lovie Smith's Bears have opened eyes with a passing attack previously unseen in these parts:
Converted third downs.
Greg Olsen with a pulse.
Jay Cutler throwing the ball (mostly) to guys in Bears jerseys.
But when they need to — and every team does at some point — can they play successful "ugly" football? The Bears average 72 rushing yards, which ranks 29th.
What cannot be disputed is that, at least for a week, the NFC's road to the Super Bowl goes through Chicago. At the minimum, the Bears deserve our respect for that. Nobody saw 3-0 coming.
I just don't know if they've done enough to be projecting good times on the lakefront on a cold day in January. I don't think there's a city that should feel secure about that.
If the spoils go to the victors who take it the most forcefully — not necessarily the most artfully — lead me to it.
Dan McNeil hosts "The Danny Mac Show" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on WSCR-AM 670.
What a dumb article. It's like he hates the fact the Bears are playing well and is trying to find excuses to doubt them. They came from behind in each of their 3 wins. THAT'S the sign of a tough football team (came from behind twice against Dallas and Green Bay).
Then he'll be asking "can the Bears win a shootout? Can the Bears win at rock-paper-scissors?"