... or 1-15. Three days after what was arguably the most exciting game played on Sunday in the NFL, there is still very little that fans can take away from the win against the Detroit Lions. The Bears won the game because of an accurately-called rule which overturned what would have been a game-winning touchdown thrown by the Lions back-up quarterback, Shaun Hill.
While those points will not show up on any scoresheet or in any stat books, all Bears fans, and most of the nation, saw the Bear defense get burned on that play. In the end, the Bears won, but they easily could have lost the game. Some are riding high on the first week's victory, focusing on the positives offered in the game. Others are wondering what almost losing a game to the Detroit Lions means for the rest of the season.
Had the Bears lost this game, most fans would surely be sending out hope like kamikazi pilots onto the Chicago streets. Pedestrians, taxi drivers, beggars, and suits alike would be under constant verbal assault from fans unable to contain their disgust for their beloved Chicago Bears. The city would literally be in an uproar. So, are we silenced simply by a catch in the rule book? (pun intended)
Enjoying the Bears' 1-0 is a fantastic thing to do, and after watching the Cowboys drop their opener 13-7 to the Washington Redskins, there may be some small slivers of hope for the Bears to jump out to a 2-0 start following this Sunday's bout in Dallas. However, this comes down to whether or not the Bears' offensive line can play better against a Dallas defensive front that is much more talented than the one the Lions threw at them this week. The Bear defense will certainly have to step-up as well.
If the Lions were able to put together two scoring drives, and nearly a third rapid and easy one at the end of the game, that leaves a lot of doubt as to how well this defense will play against the far superior Cowboys offense. Likewise, the Bears could play sharper and find a way to beat the Cowboys on Sunday. Despite his two fumbles, Matt Forte had an impressive, stand-out game against the Lions, and Jay Cutler certainly showed that he is capable of earning the spotlight by going 23/35 for 372 yards, 2 TD, and 1 INT against the Lions. The Bears defense shined at certain moments throughout the game as well. If the defensive line can apply more pressure to Tony Romo and company, this will allow for Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher to make the kind of impact plays they did last Sunday again this Sunday in Dallas.
However, the Lions were able to exploit the Bears' challenged offensive line. This only equated into one Jay Cutler interception last week, but Dallas' secondary is much more capable of turning the ball over than the Lions'. Cutler will likey have less time to handle better coverage this upcoming week, and since the defense will certainly be challenged more by the likes of Romo, WR Roy Williams, and others than what the Lions brought to the table this week, it is still easy to see the Cowboys being able to exploit the Bears' weaknesses better than the Lions did.
Last Sunday showed us that the Bears can be beat by inferior teams, but it also proved that they should be able to outlast such teams. This Sunday will show Bears fans how critical the team's weaknesses will be to the outcome of games when they play against talented and, likely, winning teams like the Cowboys.
If the Bears defeat Dallas, I officially claim this season to be one that will keep Bears fans rooting till the end, even if it ultimately ends up being what I predicted: a 7-9 season. Most 7-9 teams are in the playoff hunt until the end, when they drop the last two to three games on the schedule, so this scenario could easily see Bears fans keeping slim playoff hopes alive until the bitter end. If things go a little more right than I think they will, that record could flip to 9-7 and possibly see them legitimately battling for a final playoff seed.
The Cowboys will be hungry to avenge their opening day defeat. The team surely is looking to dismantle the Bears by the seams, exploting Lovie's weaknesses to a victory in front of the home Dallas crowd. If the Bears lose to the Cowboys this Sunday, fans may take a different look at last week's game. At 1-0, we feel like the Bears escaped with a win in a game that, going into it, we knew they should have won. If this Sunday brings us a loss, then at 1-1, the game against the Lions may look like a debacle that the team narrowly escaped from.
If somehow the Bears beat the Cowboys in an upset, then 2-0 is starting to look pretty exciting, as the team surely must have done something notably well to earn that win over Dallas in Texas. The important game-mark is still at four for me, though. If the Bears are 2-2 following four games, I will hold strong to my 7-9 prediction, but the 9-7 or 10-6 playoff run would not be out of the question. A 1-3 start, to me, signifies that intangibles will not be going the Bears' way this season and that their weaknesses will be too much to overcome. At this point, I would be dreading a four-to-six win 2010-11 campaign for our Bears.
If Dallas wins on Sunday, a 1-3 Bear start looks very possible with the Packers and New York Giants coming up next. Obviously, if they beat the Cowboys, then at worst, after four games, the Bears would be .500 and they would be positioning themselves to shock the NFL with the chance to be 3-1 or even- dare I say it?- 4-0. Basically, after only one game, all we know is that the Bears barely beat the Lions and that that may or may not mean anything else in relation to the rest of the season.
The important thing to take away from last week's game is that the Bears will not be out-of-your-mind horrible this year; they may still be bad, but horrible looks like a stretch. Any other definitions will simply have to wait for fans to have the evidence to decide on them. The good news is that if the Bears can win the next game against Dallas, things are looking about as good as they could for the remainder of the season.
Losing to Dallas would keep some aspects of the team under debate for at least another week or two, but a win in Dallas would certainly be a statement game for the Bears; the team would then be on track to make a legitimate run at success this season. A loss does not kill hopes for an above .500 season, but it would make our mediocre roster look like the problem we all thought it would be heading into this season.
For now, the BEARS are tied for first place. Hopefully that will be the prize for the winner of week three's Green Bay/Chicago matchup at Soldier Field... if not, the season may simply continue to unravel and fall apart throughout the fall and into the cold, cold approaching winter.