Chicago Bears- I watched the Chargers at Bears game last year and I saw Jay Cutler playing out of his mind. He was 18/31 with 286 yards, 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception (nfl.com). He chased down his interception, he threw a perfect strike to Johnny Knox for a touchdown. He threw Johnny open in between two defensive backs. Another touchdown was to Kellen Davis where he progressed through the play and pulled the trigger to Kellen. The interception was on a slant to Johnny Knox, where Knox slipped. An outside slant is usually a timing route, so both the quarterback and the wide receiver need to be on the same page. For people who haven't seen a timing route before, look at the film for the Seattle Seahawks at the New York Football Giants. Victor Cruz ran a slant at the end of the game, but tripped like Knox and left the quarterback out to dry. Knox like Cruz at the time was a young unproven receiver, so reliability is often low. Now with the acquisitions of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Knox will play the slot once he returns from his spinal injury, which is to be determined as of now. Earl Bennett will be a nice substitute for now. Most of Jay Cutler's receivers from years before are number twos and numbers threes, ideally, Bennett a two and Knox a three. So Jay Cutler will likely have a full arsenal by at least 2013 and will likely have one in 2012 that was better than his in 2011. Also he will have Matt Forte back, I don't know what that means, since he has only produced big in his rookie season and a contract year. He looked great last year, until his injury. But now the Bears have a solid backup in Michael Bush, who was the starter last season for the Raiders when Darren McFadden, was injured. So he knows how to produce when someone is injured, or "holding out". Matt Forte has yet to say the word "hold out".
Now to the defense.
The defense ranked 14th in points allowed, 17th in total yards allowed, 28th in passing yards allowed, and 5th in rushing yards allowed (nfl.com). The Bears defense was anchored by Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs who both passed over the 100 tackle mark (nfl.com). Julius Peppers an aging defensive end topped the 10 sack mark for the 7th time in his career (nfl.com). Charles Tillman added in his 99 tackles in 2012 (nfl.com). I have always said a corner back who gets a lot of tackles is probably not the best cover guy, but Charles Tillman did make it to the Pro Bowl this season, so I guess it's ok. Actually I think many corners in this league are misjudged because of statistics. In order to judge a corner you have to watch every piece of film for him in a season. This will show you what he does against the most talented quarterbacks and wide receivers in the NFL. With that said I did see some of Charles' games from this past year and he did appear to struggle heavily when matched up on a top receiver, so in that regard, I think the Bears have major problems with their secondary. But they did draft a pass rusher in the draft in Shea McClellin, so they could rush to help their secondary. The 2007 Giants, did that and it seemed to work I think for the most part, because they kind of won the Super Bowl, so it is possible to make a run with a weak secondary.
The special teams I can sum up in about a sentence.
Devin Hester + 40.4 net yards (nfl.com) from Adam Podlesh + 4 field goals missed (nfl.com) from Robbie Gould = Best Special Teams in the NFL
I did say about a sentence.
I think the Chicago Bears can wreak some havoc in the NFC North this season, even if they don't make the playoffs. With an improved secondary the Bears are Super Bowl contenders.