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Five Reasons the Bears Will Win the North

As we approach the start of training camp, expectations surrounding the 2009 Chicago Bears are higher than they've been since the start of the 1986 season.  (One could argue the 2007 team was expected to be better, though the Super Bowl loser curse negated much of that enthusiasm.)  Here are my six reasons the Bears will win the NFC North and make a deep run in the NFC post-season.

#5.  A Resurgent Brian Urlacher

54 has been remarkably quiet this off-season after his weak 2008 campaign, following a lucrative contract extension.  Urlacher, for the first time in nearly a decade, will not be the focal point of this club and that easing-of-pressure should lead to the kind of numbers that made him a perennial contender for Defensive POY. 

#4. Monday Night, December 28th

While I expect the Packers to be better than a year ago, this Monday night home game against the Vikings could very well decide the season.  That's Chicago.  Late December.  Evening.  Go back and watch the Jets in Seattle at the end of 2008 or the Packers in the NFC Championship  Game in 2007 and you'll get a clear picture of what the elderly Brett Favre looks like in these types of conditions.  Bears 31, Vikings 10.

#3. Depth 

Last year, the Bears were an injury away from starting my brother on the offensive line.  This year, last year's starters have become backups.  The club also has a capable starter at backup running back, two linebacker positions and across the defensive line.  The Bears only have two positions on the field where a red flag goes up due to injury: quarterback and safety.  (And should the Vikings cut Sage Rosenfels after signing Favre, one of those problems may get solved.)

#2. Matt Forte & Greg Olsen

In my opinion, one of the best duos of young players in the sport.  I can project their numbers all day long but instead I'll say this: I expect them to combine for at least twnety-five touchdowns and expect both to be in the Pro Bowl.

...and, of course, #1

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  • Hi

  • Heady stuff, Jeff. So much of it hinges on getting the improved line play that has been promised.

    Point by point:

    5)Uhrlacher's fortunes will rise or fall with the performance of of Rod Marinelli's posse in front of him. If they aren't better than 2008, neither is #54.

    4) I think Favre will be fortunate to still be VERTICAL by December 28th and he has already amply demonstrated how much he no longer wants to play in the kind of conditions that often visit Soldier Field in late December.

    3)Yes, overall depth is better save for QB & safety, but Kevin Jones was supposed to provide depth at RB LAST season, too.

    2)MF & GO's fortunes rise or fall with those of the MIGHTILY REVAMPED O-line, which looks nice on PAPER but has yet to play a live down as a unit. Was Chris Williams a "first round" tackle. We won't know for weeks.

    1)I LOVE IT! One can't help but figure Cutler will NOT overthrow/underthrow a wide open Hester as happened too often last season.

  • Albert, I think you're off base with the 'rise or fall' of Olsen and Forte. It's not just the O line. The QB will play a role in whether or not their fortunes rise or fall. As for Urlacher, the line is important but so is his conditioning. He's less distracted this year so I'll place as much importance on that as Marinelli's D line. That groups priority needs to be (and is) getting to the opposition's quarterback.

    As for RB depth, Jones was a few months removed from major reconstructive surgery last year. His recovery was remarkable but his lack of production should've been predictable. He's had another year in the system and another year of recovery. He's poised to have a strong year.

    We're as stocked as we have been in years. Can't wait for the pads to go on.

  • I am hoping for a Marinelli tweaked and healthy Harris and Harrison causing havoc in the middle of every Oline we play, and I'm hoping for the lack of the "MUG" which should give us our MLB of old back and provide all our DEs with some easy pickins. That will fix our secondary more than any FA we could go get. Though I would like to see Graham at FS, I like him and want to see him on the field.

    Offensively, I dunno. I hate to hope for bad things but I really hope Davis gets hurt in OTAs, the guy is a real liability - he won't ever get any better, isn't very good now but has enough experience to hold onto a roster spot. With him gone I could really see Iglesias and Knox sticking with us and getting good and giving Rideaux a chance to be our big target WR. While Davis takes a spot up, I think we lose one of those 3.

    Can you see going in with a 2wr set of Knox and Hester with GO in the backfield; roll GO and Forte out to wide and put hester in the slot... somewhere there's a mismatch, maybe 2 or 3. Looking back now though I really do still question a couple of our picks... Melton and Louis.. I mean a FB converted to DE and TE converted to Guard... aren't those guys around after the draft. I really would have liked true FS pick somewhere in there.

    Anyway I digress, good article Jeff but I really think Harris' resurrgence has a ton to do with Urlacher's and the Oline actually playing up to hype has a lot to do with Cutler and Forte.

  • Also I think there needs to be a new rule in the NFL, anytime the opposing teams Defense scores a TD, the team that was on offense has to kick off.
    It would make pick6s and fumble returns much more devastating. And really to me a pick six is more impressive than a safety and they have to give up points and kick the ball away for that.

  • 1. You have a brother that plays O-line in the NFL?
    2. An injury to Hester wouldn't raise the red flag?

    5 more reasons Bears win the North:

    5. AP is due for an injury. Just think about it from a fantasy perspective, other than L.T. what running backs have been elite for three years in a row?

    4. Minny's coach is named Brad Childress.

    3. Timing. The Bears get the Pack in GB before the Cheeseheads know what they're doing in the 3-4. They get the Steelers in Week 2 while this Rothlisberger thing is still hanging over Pittsburgh like a dark cloud.

    2. The Williams Wall protested their suspensions, which almost certainly won't be overturned, but only delayed, to a different four games that almost surely will be a tougher stretch than the four games they were going to be out.

    1. Bob Babich is not calling defensive plays.

  • I really want to mention something that got lost at the end of the post about Hester returning punts less. It's a response to Urlacher's Illegitimate Children who posted some inane stuff about Hester being the "worst" punt returner.

    Urlacher's illigetimate child is a bastard and should be exiled from this site for using "worst returner" and Hester in the same sentence. To quote Billy Crystal's old hag of a wife in Princess Bride, "Boooo!" to you sir. Imagine Walter Payton having a few pedestrian games and fans labeling him "worst ever." Or maybe a baseball analogy is better because returning kicks involves a little more luck, like hitting home runs. Hester SLUMPED last year: even the great ones slump but they always break out again. May you rue the day you called him "worst" when he returns a game-winner in the Superbowl. May your comments haunt you for a sports fan's lifetime when you have to watch highlight after highlight of Hester doing what no return man has ever done before or since. bastard.

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    I really hope you are right and hester was only in a slump, and that he returns to glory in the 09-10 season. Watching hester in 06 & 07 are some of my favorite moments watching profesional football. I think that is why it was so frustrating watching him look like leon johnson last year. My point in my last post was not to insult hester, but to bring this point up: Devin hester cannot be both a great returner and a great receiver. He must choose one, he essentially said the same thing in the paper the other day. Devin Hester, while very fast, has the iq of a small child. Have you heard a Devin interview that didn't leave you saying "what the Fuck is this guy talking about?"

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    Great post, Jeff. By the way, are you aware of all the Bears on Twitter? Will be interesting to follow them during the season: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/breaking-tweets-chicago/2009/07/professional-athletes-on-twitter-in-chicago.html

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    Good stuff. Can't wait to see what happens this year. I have high hopes for Kevin Jones adding to ground, and really think he could be a huge difference maker.

    My only critique of the article would be: (One could argue the 2007 team was expected to be better, though the Super Bowl loser curse negated much of that enthusiasm.)

    I really have to wonder how much of the curse of 2007 was due to Ron Rivera leaving.

    I know he didn't play offense. I know he wasn't responsible for Grossman's mental breakdown. I know there were injuries on both sides of the ball. I know it's a curse (spits on the ground, spins in a counter-clockwise circle three times).

    I've just always wondered what 2007 would have been like if Rivera was still there.

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    David Haugh, on the Wide Receiver angst and other points...

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-22-bears-haugh-chicago-jul22,0,4256690.column

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    Am I missing something? What's the sixth reason the Bears will win the NFC North?

    In response to Devin Hester being a bit slow on the intellectual side I have to disagree. Sort of. He's been known as a very quiet guy; I believe Lovie Smith even mentioned Devin's shyness during his record breaking rookie campaign. When he gets in front of the cameras for interviews - especially those impromptu post game/post practice ones - he seems a little lost and flustered and as a result resorts to mumbling and repeating phrases ad infinitum. It's not flattering and I'm sure he's self conscious of it. I can't lay out test results or IQ scores to prove he's brilliant, but the guy knows football and he works hard and I think as his star continues to rise you'll see a more composed man in front of the camera.

    These guys aren't out there trying to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. They're out there trying to make plays that make all us fans cheer (and make a few million bucks, too, of course).

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    I'm gonna be the guy that makes a baseball comment on a football message board.....Mark Burhle is my hero! Perfect Game! unbelievable!

  • In reply to FullbackDive1:

    5. This is a question mark. How do you know that we'll see a resurgent BU this year? He could be really good or he could continue to age and become a liability.

    4. 31-10? Seriously. Is this a joke. I'm not saying the bears cant win but they are NOT going to win by 3 touchdowns. The bears won last year in chicago because of two ridiculously lucky special team tds and got crushed in Minnesota.

    3. The bears do indeed have good depth at RB and LB but it is not really helpful at d-line if their starters aren't very good to begin with.

    2. Expect both to be in the pro-bowl? What!? You tell me Matt "3.9 ypc" Forte will make the pro bowl in a conference with Deangelo Williams, Michael Turner, Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook, Clinton Portis, Brandon Jacobs, Frank Gore, Marion Barber, and Steven Jackson. LOL

    As for Greg Olsen, you guys seem to think he is the second coming of Shannon Sharpe. Even the Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe who most of you havent ever even heard of had more yards and TDs than the "Great" Greg Olsen. (Not even mentioning the fact he had a worse QB situation)

    1. A QB who is a product of the system throwing to a converted defensive back is your #1 reason? pretty sad.

    I'll give you the number one reason they wont win the division this year. One word: Defense. The bears almost have the identical roster as last year and if the defense plays like they did last year, the bears will once again fail to win the division.

  • In reply to John:

    John you are raising some good points without personal attacks and insults. Welcome!

  • great analysis jeff

    oh i forgot to mention....i went to school with marcus harrison (product of arkansas). he's a really cool dude off the field (and strong as hell too). from what i've seen from him, he looks leaner and ready to do damage, but as someone once said: "football is played on the field, not on paper."

  • In reply to FQD1911:

    Harrison is one of my main picks to click this year. He's young, talented and looks to be in better shape than last year and now has a full year of pro ball under his belt. You are going to see some good things from Harrison and Idonije this year.

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