The Bears gear up this week ready for a challenging season. They will play three of four of their first games at home, back-to-back prime time games in October, and a holiday face-off against the Packers. Hopefully, they will have the opportunity to travel to London for their game against the Bucs; if the players union and The NFL do not reach an agreement, that game will take place in Tampa. Bears will face five 2010 NFC play-off teams, and eight teams that finished with 10+ wins last season.
This is an aggressive schedule for an underdog team that lacks consistency. To get ahead of the “Power Rank” curve the Bears’ offense needs to show concrete, repeatable success amid significant position shifts, rookie additions and Martz’s rigid philosophy. The defense, though solid and deep, needs to avoid injury and stay stingy.
Even if you pay close attention to preseason stats, analysts and history you might as well flip a coin on your predictions for the Bears this year. The numbers game doesn’t always tell the whole story. Stats and averages can provide great directional information, but you have to look at the way those numbers are calculated and decide for yourself how reliable they are. The evolving variables used to rank players are often arbitrary and subjective.
Historically, the Bears don’t shine in preseason. Most of the teams use the time to try-out questionable talent and fill in the roster. That’s not to say the preseason is a poor indicator; it’s just not a complete indicator. So, the experts have come down pretty hard on the Bears (again). With little confidence in the consistency of the offensive line and an aging defense, the Bears will need a strong start to build some momentum for the second half of the season.
This week the Bears will test their offensive improvements against the Falcons. Cutler’s been on the mark physically, getting rid of the ball or moving out of the pocket, and his protection in preseason has shaped up to be appear more solid than last. Complicating factors for the offense include veterans shifting positions and unseasoned rookies on the line.
The first three games will likely define the balance of the season for the Bears. They sit at “lucky” number 13 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, seven spots below Atlanta. The Falcons are known to keep a high pace on offense and deliver a crushing defense. While they are certainly a “beatable” team for the Bears to face, by no means will Sunday be an easy win.
If you play the confidence pool, I wouldn’t put 16 on this one. Keep it in the middle; expect a low-scoring, but physical game. Special Teams could make a big difference in this game, especially if it comes to a “kicking” game.
Barber will sit out this week’s season opener against the Falcons; Hurd and Wooten are still questionable at this time.
Check back on Monday for a recap on the Bears against the Falcons.