And so it begins again, this holiest of holies. The Chicago Bears, stale taste of unfulfilled promise fresh on their tongues, attempt to prove to a skeptical media and desperate fan base that they've made enough alterations their often-bested roster and are now fit to attend the grandest wedding of them all: the Super Bowl. It begins Sunday in Soldier Field. Where it ought to begin. Where it has to begin. Against a Detroit Lions team that is quickly becoming the in vogue pick for a turnaround season. It begins in Chicago. Will it end in Dallas?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- I tend to like this team, specifically under this regime, much more when they've got something to prove. It's when folks are high on them, when expectations rise, they seem to stumble early and finish poorly. I think Cutler and the offense will come flying out of the gates Sunday, scoring early and often.
- I try not to base anything on the preseason but I can't remember the last Bears defender who was capable of taking over a game and Julius Peppers is that player. If the Bears are able to force the Lions into third-and-longs and Peppers makes just one or two big plays, it will make a difference on the scoreboard. I think he plays inspired in front of his new home crowd.
- The Bears beat the Lions last season by a total of 38 points. I refuse to believe the Lions have made up that much ground in an offseason.
- The Bears have two major obstacles facing them Sunday. The Stafford-to-Johnson combination is going to get theirs, as I don't imagine the Bears will be able to cut down on the quick-route passing game that has plagued them throughout this era. But with their linebackers and defensive line healthy, and with Chris Harris' tackling at safety, I don't imagine the Lions will be able to achieve anything on the ground.
- The other is Ndamukong Suh and I look for Mike Martz to try and confuse Suh with a combination of misdirection runs and isolations to Hester and Knox on the outside. Suh is brilliant. But he's also a rookie who'll be looking to barrel forward and kill the QB. That is something to exploit, not fear.
- The Bears still have one of the most reliable kicker/punter combinations in the league and are capable of scoring on every single kickoff and punt return. Until I see otherwise, I make this a weapon opponents can not account for.