Week 4 of the preseason is upon us. Veterans and rookies alike will anxiously await the announcement of the final roster in the days following the Bears matchup against the Browns.
The roster will make its way from 75 players down to the final 53, and many fringe players will have to put it all on the line this Thursday to earn the right to continue playing on Sundays.
The final roster is not yet set, but it’s safe to say that this year’s team is one of the most talented groups to don the navy and orange uniforms. Even though the NFC North is one of the most feared divisions in the NFL, general consensus still remains that the Bears will be making a deep postseason run.
But every team’s hopes are high at the moment. Everyone still has a 0 in the loss column and 16 games to play.
So I’ve decided to take an in depth look at the schedule and try to justify the hype surrounding the Bears. I too believe the Bears will win at least 10 games, march into the playoffs, and will hopefully be playing on the Sunday in February that matters most. But maybe I’m just blinded by bias.
So instead of taking the “Super Fan” approach and assuming the Bears will go 16-0, and instead of being the quintessential pessimist who fears a 6-10 finish and will be calling for Lovie’s head yet again in the offseason, I’ll take more of a realist approach. I’ll go through the best case scenario, the worst case scenario, and then end up in the middle somewhere.
I’ll analyze the season in quarters (every 4 games). The only caveat will be injuries. They’re impossible to predict but a certainty to occur. All of my picks will be made assuming the Bears maintain “good” health throughout the season, as in no major injuries to any of the franchise players.
This year the fans at Soldier Field will be treated to Andrew Luck’s NFL debut for the Colts. The Colts were so atrocious last year that even though they made improvements in the offseason (Luck, Coby Fleener, Vontae Davis, etc.), you’d be hard pressed to find anyone picking against the Bears in this one.
The dominos would ALL have to fall the Colts way. Urlacher would have to remain sidelined or be rendered ineffective by his knee, the line would have to literally cave in, and Luck would need a near-perfect performance for the Colts to have a shot. Even pessimistically thinking, I’m taking the Bears here.
It’s a quick turnaround from the Colts who only won 2 games last year to the Packers who only lost 1 game last year. Based on home field advantage alone, the edge here would go to the Packers at Lambeau Field.
If Urlacher’s health is still iffy only 4 days after the season opener, that will only cement my beliefs. Not to say this won’t be a competitive game, and possibly a wild-west style shoot out with a huge final score thanks to two high powered offenses, but it’s hard for me to see the Bears coming out on top up north.
Back down the ladder we go in week 3 to face the Rams at Soldier Field. The Rams were also a 2 win team in 2011. St. Louis’ offensive production rests squarely on the shoulders of Steven Jackson, their stud running back. If Sam Bradford continues his downward trend in performance since his 2010 NFL ROY campaign, it should be a more than manageable task to keep Jackson subdued long enough to snag a win.
In the final game of the first quarter, the Bears will head to Jerry Jones’ multi-million dollar play pen to take on America’s Team. The Cowboys are always a tough team to project. The amount of talent on the roster makes them perennial title contenders on paper. But some sort of team dysfunction seems to set them back year in and year out.
I see this game being a toss up with no definitive answer at the moment. Just like the Cowboys, it also depends on which Bears team decides to show up that day. Will the line pass protect enough to hold off DeMarcus Ware? Will the secondary be able to contain Miles Austin and Dez Bryant? Or will the Cowboys come out and lay an egg on their home turf and set the early part of the season off on the wrong foot?
The Bear’s fan in me says “win”, the realist says “no clue”, the pessimist says “loss”. This brings the best-case first quarter tally to 3-1 and the worst case to 2-2.
My next article will cover the second quarter of the season, which will be highlighted by the Monday Night matchup against the Lions on October 22nd at Soldier Field.Follow paulmbanks