And so it begins: the most anticipated season in the modern era of the Chicago Bears. Sunday begins a campaign many believe CAN end with a Super Bowl trophy being hoisted in the great city of New Orleans. But celebratory Pimm's Cups and muffuletta at the Napoleon House will have to wait until an entire NFL season and postseason are played. Can the Bears make a magical run? We shall see.
Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- Mike Chappell of the Indy Star has documented the Colts' struggles at corner throughout the preseason. Until they made a seemingly ludicrous trade for Vontae Davis the Colts did not have a second professional corner on the roster. Now they've given up a second-round pick for Davis and Davis has the unenviable task of drawing former teammate Brandon Marshall at Soldier Field.
- Robert Griffin did not have big numbers in the third preseason game against the Colts due to his own fault. There were wide open receivers deep all first half. I expect the Bears to take multiple shots on this secondary and put on a show for the home fans.
- What should worry the Bears is the impact of the interior blitz from the Colts. As Freeney and Mathis struggle early to adapt to new positions in a new scheme, I expect Chuck Pagano's Baltimore roots to shine through as he attempts to overwhelm the interior of the Bears offensive line on obvious passing downs. And he may be successful if the Bears don't avoid obvious passing downs.
- I don't expect Andrew Luck to test the back end of the Bears secondary. If he does it is because the Bears are mounting zero pass rush. I think Bruce Arians will settle Luck's debut by relying on a series of quick slants and screens and Arians will run, run, run until he can't run anymore. If the Bears can get a lead in this game they could force Luck & Co. into some big game-ending mistakes.
- I think the Bears should dominate the Colts coverage units. Young teams without depth struggle to field solid special teams units.
- I expect the Bears to get Cutler out of the pocket more than we've seen all preseason and it should open up pockets downfield. (It also should lead to many of us saying "Oh, that Kellen Davis" on Monday morning.)
- I expect the Bears to play games with Luck all afternoon. I think we'll see linebackers and defensive backs hovering around the line of scrimmage and disguising blitzes on almost every play.
- If the Bears sack Luck three times Sunday, they'll win handily.
- I think the Colts will rely on a steady stream in the seam, attempting to test Urlacher's range in the middle of the field. I don't think it will be effective.
- Don't underestimate the energy you'll feel in Soldier Field. Normally I think this is an overrated element but I'd imagine you'll be able to sense the expectation while you're in line for the $10 MGD.
- Hunger. It may sound strange but I believe a lot of Bears will be hungry opening week. I believe Brian Urlacher is hungry to show the media they don't know shit about his injury. (His comment about David Haugh on Waddle & Silvy Tuesday was a thing of beauty.) I believe Mike Tice is hungry to show he knew what he was doing when he assembled this offensive line. I believe Matt Forte is hungry to show everyone he was worth the drama accompanying his contract extension. I believe Charles Tillman will be hungry to show the Giants preseason game was a meaningless preseason game and some moron Bears fans should shut their mouths. Cutler. Marshall. McClellin. I believe there is far more to prove on the home sideline Sunday than the visitor sideline - where they know the pressure won't start until year three of this new regime.
My score prediction. The only two times the Bears have made the Super Bowl they opened the season with a 38-28 win over Tampa Bay (1985) and a 26-0 victory over the Packers (2006). I'll split the difference.
Chicago Bears 32, Indianapolis Colts 14
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