Volatility is one thing that makes the NFL so great. A team can be on top of the mountain one year, and find themselves picking first in the Draft the next. NFL organizations probably don't appreciate the fickleness of professional football, but it keeps the fans coming back for more.
There isn't an exact science to sustaining football dominance. Injuries, contracts, and age are some of the things that can delay and prevent it from happening. With that said, it's almost silly to predict how a season will turn out for a team without knowing how these things will effect a team, but I'll give it a try.
Here's a game-by-game prediction of the 2012 Chicago Bears season:
Week One: vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sun., September 9
The schedule gods do no favors for the number one overall pick, Andrew Luck. Assuming he is the starter, his first regular season game comes against the 'Super Bowl or bust' Chicago Bears in Soldier Field. That can be a daunting task for an experienced quarterback, let alone a rookie one. The Bears should be able to control the game from the beginning, scoring plenty of points on a Greg Manusky defense that has more 4-3 personnel than 3-4. Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Luck.
Result: Win (1-0)
Week Two: at Green Bay, Thurs., September 13
In the first Thursday Night Football game of the year the NFL's best rivalry will be showcased. Green Bay, who plays the San Francisco 49ers in week one, will face two of the top defenses in the first five days of their season. I think the short turnaround will effect the Packers' offense some and they'll be plenty slowed down when the Bears come to town.
Chicago has been abused by the Packers in the last couple of match-ups and still have the sour taste in their mouths from the 2010 NFC Championship game. The offense is a little more equipped to keep up with Packers this time around, and Jay Cutler and the gang get the Green Bay monkey off their backs. An early lead in arguably the toughest division in football helps the Bears take control of their destiny.
Result: Win (2-0)
Week Three: vs. St. Louis, Sun., September 23
With the hiring of Jeff Fisher and the king's ransom picked up from the Washington Redskins in the Robert Griffin III trade, the Rams are looking pretty good for the future. Also the additions of free agent cornerback, Cortland Finnegan, and first-round pick Michael Brockers, could make this the best defense the Bears will face in the first three weeks. Still, the Bears' defense finds way to give Sam Bradford fits, and Chicago's experience ends up being too much for the Rams' youth to overcome.
Result: Win (3-0)
Week Four: at Dallas, Mon., October 1
Tony Romo and the Cowboys constantly underachieve given the talent that's on their roster. Is it time for them to finally take a step in the right direction, win the NFC East, and finally compete for a Super Bowl? I'm not sure, but I do think they beat a Chicago team that doesn't play particularly well when in the national spotlight. Speaking of the spotlight, it doesn't get bigger than Jerry's play place in Arlington on a Monday Night.
Result: Loss (3-1)
Week Five: at Jacksonville, Sun., October 7
The old adage of "if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any" perfectly describes the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. There have been rumblings out of Florida that newly acquired quarterback, Chad Henne, could be the starter heading into the season and not former first-round pick, Blaine Gabbert. Given that information, and the fact that the Jags still don't have enough on the outside to take the focus off of running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, makes it an easy one for the Bears.
Result: Win (4-1)
Week Six: Bye Week
Week Seven: vs. Detroit, Mon., October 22
The Bears are 5-3 coming off the bye week in Lovie Smith's tenure as head coach. This year they get a divisional opponent in the Detroit Lions after a week off, and they should be ready for them. These aren't the old Lions anymore. Detroit has shown that they can compete in this league and are coming off their first playoff berth since 1999. But the Bears, knowing this team as well as they do, have a chance to separate themselves in the division. This proves to be all the motivation they need to take over this game.
Result: Win (5-1)
Week Eight: vs. Carolina, Sun., October 28
Last season's match-up between the Bears and Panthers was one of the more exciting games of the Bears' season. Sophomore quarterback, Cam Newton, is an exceptional talent, and gave Chicago all they could handle in his first trip to Soldier Field. With another year under his belt, and head coach Ron Rivera knowing the Bears' defense so well, the Panthers come to Chicago and steal one.
Result: Loss (5-2)
Week Nine: at Tennessee, Sun., November 4
I'm not sure Tennessee is ready to compete with the best teams in the NFL. Titans head coach, Mike Munchak, did a good job getting his team to a 9-7 record with a host of injuries last year. Going into the 2012 season there are injury concerns surrounding wide receiver Kenny Britt, and questions about sophomore quarterback Jake Locker's readiness to be an NFL starter. This could spell trouble for Tennessee, and the Bears take advantage.
Result: Win (6-2)
Week Ten: vs. Houston, Sun., November 11
When healthy, The Texans are one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. The triple threat of Matt Schub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson is tough for anyone to contain, and will certainly poise some problems for the Bears. In a possible Super Bowl preview, the Bears lose a heart breaker to the visiting Texans.
Result: Loss (6-3)
Week Eleven: at San Francisco, Mon., November 19
Had this game been at Soldier Field in late November, I would give the edge to the Bears. Having to travel west and play against maybe the league's best defense may prove to be too tough of a task. Even though I don't trust Alex Smith's play at quarterback, I believe the Bears lose a close, low-scoring game that's eerily similar to the 10-6 loss in 2009.
Result: Loss (6-4)
Week Twelve: vs. Minnesota, Sun., November 25
The Bears simply have more talent than the Vikings and anything less than a sweep of the rebuilding Minnesota team should be considered a failure. Although I think Christian Ponder will continue to improve, if Chicago has aspirations of taking the divisional crown from the Packers, they have to win these games.
Result: Win (7-4)
Week Thirteen: vs. Seattle, Sun, December 2
Avoiding the monster that is Qwest Field is the first step in beating Pete Carroll's Seahawks. Even though the Bears have lost two of the last three meetings with Seattle, they still consider themselves the better team, as they should. Chicago has a better defense, more consistency at quarterback, and, in my opinion, a better coaching staff. It's tough to call this game because the Seahawks always seem to play the Bears well. Despite better quarterback play with former Packer Matt Flynn, and an overall more complete Seattle team, the Seahawks still leave the Windy City with a loss.
Result: Win (8-4)
Week Fourteen: at Minnesota, Sun., December 9
See Week Twelve.
Result: Win (9-4)
Week Fifteen: vs. Green Bay, Sun., December 16
I don't have the guts to predict a sweep of the Packers in the 2012 season. If my prediction is correct in week two, the Packers will be chasing the Bears for the divisional crown at this point and will need this game to win a wild card or keep pace with Chicago. I can't pick against Aaron Rodgers twice, but I do think this game will be pretty close.
Result: Loss (9-5)
Week Sixteen: at Arizona, Sun., December 23
Kevin Kolb will go into training camp competing with John Skelton for the starting quarterback job, and that spells trouble for the Cardinals. Arizona is continuing to get better defensively, and first round pick Michael Floyd will make a nice compliment to Larry Fitzgerald for years to come. Still, the Bears will be who the Cardinals thought they were, and leave Glendale with a convincing victory.
Result: Win (10-5)
Week Seventeen: at Detroit, Sun., December 30
This game's atmosphere shouldn't be close to the last time the Bears went to Ford Field to face an undefeated Lions team on Monday night. I'm not sure the Lions are able to compete for a playoff spot in 2012 with so many questions facing their team. The defensive secondary and offensive line are both still a concern, and a marijuana charge against defensive lineman, Nick Fairley, won't help them focus. Order is restored in the NFC North, and the Bears complete a season sweep of the Lions.
Result: Win (11-5)
Filed under: Schedule