The path to 11 wins: Not nearly as hard as some make it out to be
The Bears (in my humble opinion) not only have a shot at 11 wins, but actually have a realistic shot at 12 wins. But I'm a more optimistic fan than some of you here and I tend to measure our strengths more than our weaknesses. I'm going to assume that we'll continue to emphasize protecting Cutler and that we're actually healthy (Carimi, Bennett and Wooten are all back).
In two weeks we play the Eagles in Philly. Yes, their offense CAN be scary but their defense AND special teams are ass. With Forte tearing up every team he faces, Roy Williams getting more comfortable with Jay (I know, I can't believe it either) and our special teams, I expect an entertaining victory for the Bears on MNF. 5 wins.
Detroit. The Bears simply will not get swept by this team. They'll remember that the defense giving up two ridiculous big plays to them last time led to our loss. They will not let that happen again. The Lions were paper tigers to begin with by being more lucky than good in their first 3 wins. But again, the Bears are protecting Cutler, Forte's a beast and the passing game is improving. If the Bears can just stop 88 yard runs at home, this is win #6.
Then the next 4 are AFC West teams. The Bears, in my lifetime, have traditionally owned the AFC West. We may have lost a game here and there (a loss to San Diego a few years ago comes to mind) but the Bears are better than each of these teams. And I don't think it's even close. SD's offense can be scary, true, but I just don't see them doing the aerial bombardment thing on the Bears without us getting some picks and sack. I say the Bears sweep all 4 of the AFC West teams with blowouts on Denver and Oakland (and maybe KC). 9 or 10 wins (I'm gonna give a 'maybe' to a loss to SD though I don't really see it)
Seattle. At home. Blowout. Win #10 or 11
Last game of the season is the Vikings at home. Since this game may affect us getting into the playoffs and/or seeding, this will be another stomping of Ponder and Co at Soldier field. Win #11 or 12
That last Green Bay game before the Vikings will be tough regardless since it's in Green Bay. It'll depend on how set they are in seeding in the playoffs. I think they psychologically have an advantage because they just don't believe the Bears can be them, and they won't. Not in this game. The Bears will beat them in the NFC Championship game in some sweet revenge-type shit.
So that's my prediction. Bears will be either 12-4 or 11-5 and make the playoffs. Beat the Pack in the NFC title game and advance to the Super Bowl to play....who knows?