The NFL season opened Thursday with the Texans visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. A few people even flipped on the game and watched.
Viewership was way down from a year ago, a lopsided contest — the Chiefs led 31-7 before winning 31-20 — surely having something to do with it. Some measure of resistance to the league’s social-justice messaging must be taken into consideration, too.
But what about — in a broader sense — the times we’re living in? Throughout sports, ratings are suffering. Do fans have too much on their plates to care about the Bears like they would in a normal season? About the NFL, too?
That topic was at the top of the agenda for this week’s “Polling Place,” your home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter.
“Can’t watch it at a bar,” @CHIwriter commented. “Can’t use it to help forget all of our troubles. Can’t sit in the stadium seats to watch. Just not the same.”
The Chiefs have all-universe quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Texans have Deshaun Watson. The Bears might be generating a bit less of a buzz because, well, you know.
“Hard to be excited for another year of Mitch [Trubisky],” @JustinKCarr wrote.
The Bears’ stadium-sized question mark at the most important position on any football team no doubt tamps down expectations. With that defense? With those intriguing pass-catching options? There are reasons to be hopeful — but playoff-hopeful? We asked voters to weigh in on that, too.
Lastly, there’s the matter of Sunday’s Bears opener. Yes, we asked about that, too. Did our voters even notice that it’s the -Lions, not the Bears, who are favored to win? (Hint: Of course they didn’t.)
On to the polls:
Poll No. 1: In a year unlike any other, the NFL season has arrived. How ready are you for some football?
Our weekly @suntimes sports poll is back. Let us hear from you! Selected comments will appear in our Sports Saturday edition.— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) September 10, 2020
QUESTION 1: In a year unlike any other, the NFL season has arrived. How ready are you for some football?
Upshot: Sports can be the most wonderful diversion. Yelling, cheering, cursing, being elated, being driven crazy by your QB — all of it can be soup for the soul. But, yes, it’s hard to obsess over sports at a time like this and not feel foolish. These days, it can be hard even to simply shoot the bull (or vote in a poll) about it. Clearly, according to these results, “less” is more in 2020.
Poll No. 2: If there’s a full season, how will the Bears fare?
QUESTION 2: If there's a full season, how will the Bears fare?— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) September 10, 2020
Upshot: If you just so happened to stumble upon CBS Sports’ expert predictions like we did, you might’ve noticed that a panel of seven unanimously picked two teams — one in each conference — to finish at the bottom of their division standings. If they’re right, the Jaguars will bring up the rear in the AFC South and the Bears will do the same in the NFC North. Tell you what, let’s just hope they’re wrong.
Poll No. 3: What will be the Bears’ record after Sunday’s opener against the Lions in Detroit?
QUESTION 3: What will be the Bears' record after Sunday's opener against the Lions in Detroit?— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) September 10, 2020
Upshot: What a bunch of homers we are. Yes, the Bears swept the Lions last season, but that was with Jeff Driskel at quarterback in the first matchup and David Blough running the show in the second. Matt Stafford is back in command, and — as painful as it might be to admit — he has kicked the Bears around over the years more than they’ve kicked him around.