The NFL Season is only a few days away and the popularity of the NFL is number one for professional sports in the USA. I am what one would call a Vikings Rube (thanks AM1490 KFAN). Another sign football season is in the air is Sports Illustrated double issue previewing all 32 teams in the NFL. For me the four teams I am most concerned about are members of the NFC North. The members are the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions.With the season so quickly approaching I would like to break down the fours teams in the NFC North for the next four days.I will give my record predictions for the NFC North in my final review on day 4.
Sports Illustrated has picked the Chicago Bears to win the division with an 11-5 record, then Packers, Lions and Vikings. With that in mind I have decided to preview the teams in that order.
The Chicago Bears finished the 2011 season with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs. The Bears offense was ranked 24th and their defense was ranked 17th in the league. The off season was very busy for the Chicago Bears. The Bears made their first big change by hiring a new General Manager, Phil Emery. The Bears also made a change in hiring former Vikings head coach, Mike Tice, to be their offensive coordinator. Oh boy…we will get to this later. Emery was quick to make his mark with the signing of Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins. The Bears traded away two third round picks for Marshall who the Bears believe will be the next “big” receiver they need for Jay Cutler. Marshall’s track record isn’t the best and this could be what Vikings fans may call “the Moss experiment.” The Bears then drafted wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round out of South Carolina. Jeffery caught 49 balls in 2011 and 88 in 2010 for South Carolina. The Bears signed premier running back Matt Forte to a new four-year $31.5 million dollar deal. Matt Forte had 203 rushes last year for 997 yards. The Bears also added veteran running back Michael Bush for another offensive threat to take the heat off Jay Cutler. Cutler was sacked 2.68 times per game last year. The moves the Bears made doesn’t even include anything significant to their offensive line. Your quarterback is no good if he’s on his back the whole time, or scared to be on his back the whole time.
The Bears defense is a solid squad typically every year but the Bear’s defense like Baltimore’s defense isn’t getting any younger and with that in mind, injuries to key players may be in their future.
Here’s what I think of the Bears. 11-5 record in 2012, NO WAY. The Bears play the Packers, Vikings and Lions twice and of those six games I say they maybe win 3. The Packers are coming off a 15-1 record, the Lions were 10-6, and the Vikings are much improved from their 3-13 record last season. Next they play teams like San Francisco who went to the NFC title game last season, at Dallas, Carolina, Houston, and at Tennessee. This is a tough schedule and I see nothing to suggest they can win 3 more games than last season. Okay now the signing of Mike Tice as offensive coordinator. Mike Tice is hardly the great offensive mind I would say can lead an NFL team to the playoffs. Vikings fans know first hand how terrible he can be under pressure from the media, players and the fans and he doesn’t even have weapons like Daunte Culpepper or Randy Moss to work with. I can’t wait to see what kind of plays Tice will call in his two minute drill to win a game on the road. If I were a Bears fan I would not be encouraged or excited with this hire. The Bears do have good weapons in Forte, Bush, Culter, and Marshall but it all boils down to protection and the offensive line. Forte had only 4 touchdowns last season and with minimal moves on the offensive line, this leads me to believe, Forte will have a tough time reaching the end zone again this season. The Chicago Bears will not be heading to the playoffs . Sorry Bears fans but you may have a repeat of a year ago.