Lets say for the sake of argument that the labor impasse is solved, and every team gets in adequate training time with the coaches and players, the Bears are gonna have to "prove" they're worthy of the playoffs more this year than last. Yeah, both lines seem to have been improved, albeit with the addition of rookies, and the WRs, and a couple of other young contributors will have another year in the system, but it's going to be rather difficult to make the playoffs this year, with Green Bay at full health and lead by a superstar in Aaron Rodgers. The NFC North will be playing the NFC South this year, a division that had 3 teams with 10 wins. This isn't the NFC East that was all banged up last year, and certainly not the NFC West, which the East has the pleasure of playing. In all likelihood, we're either fighting GB for the division again, or we're going to be fighting one of the following teams for a WC: Dallas or Philly, N.O., Atlanta or Tampa.
Granted, the NFC South is gonna be beating each other up to go up in the standings, but they have the talent in that division to send 1-2 wildcard teams. What's best for us right now is that we still have 4 games against Detroit and Minnesota, neither team whose hype should be bought into, with a redundancy of picks in Detroit and a baffling selection in Minnesota.
The NFC East could also send 1-3 playoff teams, with Philly starting to come around Michael Vick, and a healthy Tony Romo playing under a better coach than the one he had last year. Not to mention the Giants are playing for their head coach's job. With them all playing against garbage NFC West teams (the only exception being St. Louis), that could def. work in their favor.
I guess what helps the Bears the most is getting an easy division to play against in the AFC West, but if you look at it, Oakland made strides last year, and although they're without their best CB , they will still be good. SD lost their DC, but they still had the best offense and defense last year, and the likelihood of disappointment by such a talented group a 2nd straight year is unlikely. KC is an up and coming team, but they lost the OC that got the most out of Matt Cassell, so they are iffy, and Denver is a complete tire fire and we should trounce them.
Maybe this isn't the most linear statement, but the fact is, the NFC East has an easier schedule, with at least one team primed to make a playoff run, the NFC South has done nothing but get better (minus Carolina) and the chase for the WC is gonna be a crowded one, looking into the season. Hopefully we won't need to play so many 3rd string QBs this time around to win the division....
I'm not all that worried about the NFC South. Traditionally we do well against those top team, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and NO. Shoot, everyone thought Atlanta was such a tough cookie last year and then the Packers kicked the crap out of them in the playoffs. We could have done the same. The AFC West shouldn't be all that tough either but the Raider matchup will be bloody and we never seem to match up well against SD but we should be able to come out of it 3-1 if we stay physical with those teams.
I have many more concerns about getting through our own NFCN. The Lions will be a better team this year and we often struggle against them anyway. Taking two from the Packers won't be easy either. I think we can beat any of the southern teams but I think we may do well to escape 4-2 against our own NFCN rivals.
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.
the other thing tho, is that the Cowboys and Giants are both likely to have bounce back seasons, and you know there's gonna be a WC team coming from the south, and the north and east are gonna have to fight for the other one. I think it's not gonna be as easy this year, despite a better team.
In total agreement, I just think we can't sleep on the Cowboys and Giants, and maybe an improvement by the bucs (despite their CB). I could see any of those three making the WC, but if i had to bet, I'd say GB and Chi are back in again, but there will be a lot more nail biting.
I think, contrary to what has been said in here, we will finish anywhere from a 9-7 record to as good as 13-3. This team will either be feast or famine, just like what we saw after the Super Bowl season from 2007-09. Mark my words: what happens this year will determine the future of this coaching staff. If Lovie can't deliver another stellar season in Chicago, I wouldn't look for him to last much longer there. At the very least, I wouldn't imagine that Mike Martz would be there at the end of the season if the offense falters along the way.