Hello APC! I've been a lurker here for almost a month and I'm so excited for this season that I wanted to share my opinions on our black and blue division. If you want the breakdown now go to the jump if you want to know who I am then read on! I currently attend Indiana University (great football, I know) but I'm originally from a Northern Suburb of Chicago. Growing up as a Packer fan in Chicago is a rewarding experience in my eyes because the Bears Packers rivalry has been in favor of the Pack as of late. All of my friends are hardcore Bears fans and I love getting into arguments with them, they're not that knowledgeable about football and usually just tell me that aaron rodgers sucks. As of late my friends all think the Bears are winning the SB this year. Writing this already seems like a ton of effort and I definitely have better things to do on a Friday night but I really felt like talking about some football!
I'll start off with the Packers. If you ask me, the 15-1 season did not help my perspective of the Packers and how they should do this year. I look at the schedule and automatically think 16-0 isn't out of reach, realistically, it is. And that is OK because while their record may not show it, this team will be much better than last year. I'll go into detail in key games, let's get started!
Week 1: GB vs SF Outcome:? Unstoppable force meets immovable object. This game is a toss up, whoevers offense can get things going will win. The 49ers D matches up well with the Packers O other than at S, as long as SF pressures AR they are in this game. I don't trust Alex Smith enough to say he will be fantastic enough to beat the Packers D, after all SF WRs had one catch in the championship game. SF did add talent to the WRs but I'm not sure Alex Smith will fulfill his potential.
Week 2: GB vs CHI Outcome:W At home the Packers should be able to handle Chicago. Any game with the Bears will be hard fought but I don't think the Bears D can stop Rodgers. The Bears OL is just turrible. I expect Cutler to make plays with his feet, if he can.
Week 3: GB at SEA Outcome:W, although don't be surprised if the Hawks give us a run, they have the 12th man and a young D filled with talent.
Week 4: GB vs NO Outcome:W, we're due for another thrilling game against the Saints, that being said our hopefully improved pass rush will pressure Brees enough to slow him down. I expect Brees to have 1 INT if not 2. I also expect AR to carve apart a weakened Saints D (no Vilma or W Smith). This will be a close game, but not as close as last year.
Week 5: GB at IND Outcome:W, I would be utterly shocked if the Pack loses this one.
Week 6: GB at HOU Outcome:? This could be the toughest game of the season, the Texans seem to have it all going their way barring injury. They have a great young defense, and great running game, Schaub to Johnson, and homefield advantage. I remember reading somewhere that some of their OL from last year didn't return, hopefully that slows them down. I would not be surprised if this is a shootout, should the pass rush not show up for either team.
Week 7:GB at STL Outcome:W A win won't surprise anybody here, but I think the Rams will be an up and coming team soon.
Week 8:GB vs JAX Outcome:W The Jags D is surprisingly good, and MJD is a fearsome RB. But I'm not buying into Blaine Gabbert, I say he closes his eyes as the pocket around him disintegrates.
Week 9: GB vs ARI Outcome:W The Cards are just a few pieces away from being in the playoffs, but the more complete team wins here especially at home
Week 10: A much deserved Bye
Week 11: GB at DET Outcome: This game is probably a W but facing the Lions on their turf is not to be taken lightly. We'll know more about the potential outcome by the time we play this game.
Week 12: GB at NYG Outcome:W We know how good the Giants are, but they have arguably the toughest schedule in the NFL. They will probably be worn down and riddled with injuries, I don't think they can pull this one together but they aren't to be trifled with.
Week 13: GB vs MIN Outcome:W Minnesota won't be able to stop Rodgers and company, and their O can't hang with GB's
Week 14: GB vs DET Outcome:W I'm giving this to the Pack, they are at home and the Lions secondary will be picked apart as long as the OL holds for Rodgers. Besides, the Lions couldn't beat Flynn, why should they beat Rodgers?
Week 15: GB at CHI Outcome:? We'll know more by the time this game comes around. I wouldn't be surprised if the Pack lost here, the Bears are at home and Soldier Field in Dec is shredded. This will probably be a slow grinding game, which ultimately favors the Bears providing they are healthy (which I doubt).
Week 16: GB vs TEN Outcome:W I don't expect Locker to know what is going on during this game and CJ2K should be neutralized.
Week 17: GB at MIN Outcome:? What better way to cruise into the playoffs than facing the Vikings the last week? The starters won't be playing much so anything could happen. However, I expect GB to win because they are better in most facets of the game.
I know what you're thinking, "There are no losses predicted?" I wouldn't say no losses, the parity of the NFL means anything can happen, I expect the Packers to drop a few ? games.
I'm projecting 11-5 to 13-3
The Packers will be one of the top seeds and should at least make it to the Championship game.
So there you go, my thoughts on the Packers season, now it's time to take a look at the Bears.
The Bears certainly won the offseason this season, but as we have seen, that doesn't mean a damn thing come game time. The Bears traded for headcase wideout Brandon Marshall in order to keep Cutler happy. They also drafted big bodied Alshon Jeffery in order to add to Cutler's arsenal. While these additions are great, the Bears didn't do a damn thing to improve their OL. Some of their starters would be lucky to be on other teams in the NFCN. I do expect Cutler to improve, he will throw around 4300 yards with around 30 TDs, but this is only if he stays healthy! The season hasn't even started yet and the Bears already have several question marks. Their best safety Conte is out, Urlacher had surgery to repair MCL and PCL sprains and has been mysterious about his condition, and Peppers has plantar fasciitis. It's boom or bust for the Bears this year, barring injury they will make the playoffs.
Week 1: CHI vs IND Outcome:W Cutler-Marshall will impress everyone despite facing a bad Colts D. Bears fans will be high on their team coming into Week 2, not knowing how their team matches up against a real team.
Week 2: CHI at GB Outcome:L I think the OL will be killed this game and I'm not buying into Urlacher being back to 100% before this game. I think Rodgers will be borderline unstoppable and Benson will enjoy running the clock out on his former team.
Week 3: CHI vs STL Outcome:W The Bears face another crappy team, although STL's Dline should make some noise it won't win them the game.
Week 4: CHI at DAL Outcome:? This will be a great game provided the Cowboys show up. I believe D Ware will eat the Bears OL alive but Chicago will find a way to move the chains. As long as Dallas shows up they have a shot, I give the Cowboys a slight advantage because Tillman hasn't looked that sharp recently and he will have a tough matchup against Dez Bryant and the Boys are at home.
Week 5: CHI at JAX Outcome:W Another week and another crappy team, Peppers becomes Gabbert's biggest nightmare.
Week 6: Bye The Bears will feel good coming into the bye, but we won't know much about their team when comparing them to other playoff bound teams.
Week 7: CHI vs DET Outcome:? Cutler will be running for his life out there, expect him to be wrapped up 4 or 5 times. Other than the Lions pass rush this could turn into a shootout between Cutler-Marshall and Stafford-Johnson. The Lions do have better receivers overall so I expect the Lions to win that sort of game. If the Bears can control the clock with Forte/Bush while putting up points and keeping Cutler upright they can win. With home field advantage I think CHI will pull this one out.
Week 8: CHI vs CAR Outcome:? I know a lot of Bears fans are marking this down for a for sure win but I wouldn't be so sure. Carolina is getting defensive talent back from injury that kept them sidelined last year, J Beason will be playing and he has proved how good of a LB he is. I expect these two offenses to potentially struggle, but give the edge to Cam Newton because he is an absolute playmaker. This will be a hard fought game.
Week 9: CHI at TEN Outcome: W Locker won't be effective enough to overcome CJ2K being stuffed on most runs.
Week 10: CHI vs HOU Outcome:L I'm tempted to put a ? for this one but the Texans are a much better team. They have too many ways of beating you and I think Cutler will be pressured a lot in this game. Bears will pick their poison between Foster and A Johnson and will lose everytime.
Week 11: CHI at SF Outcome:L Finally, the crown jewel of the Bears season, the toughest game of all outside of the Pack. Once again I see Cutler having to scramble in order to make plays against a tough 49ers db core. Forte?Bush will be largely ineffective against the 49ers run D. If the 49ers O can get any sort of production, be it through the air/ground/or both they will win this game. As long as SF kicks away from Hester they should win.
Week 12: CHI vs MIN Outcome:W Bears should easily handle the Vikings
Week 13: CHI vs SEA Outcome:W The Bears lost to them last season, but that was without Cutler. They should be able to overcome the Seahawks with a balanced offense and superior special teams.
Week 14: CHI at MIN Outcome:W Bears should be able to handle the Vikings
Week 15: CHI vs GB Outcome:? As I said Soldier Field in Dec is god awful, either team could win this one.
Week 16: CHI at ARI Outcome:W Bears should win with superior quarterbacking.
Week 17: CHI at DET Outcome:? The Bears may be resting their starters although with Lovie Smith as HC you never know. Jason Campbell should still be good enough to win, but the Lions could be fighting to get into the playoffs.
I know there is some bias in a Bears season prediction coming from a Packers fan, but i tried to be as realistic as possible.
The Bears probably go 10-6 to 12-4 provided they stay healthy
I will always dread the possibility of seeing the Bears in the postseason, but nothing is sweeter than beating them 3 times in one year!
I'm not going to break down this season because frankly I don't see them making the playoffs. The Lions didn't beat any teams above .5 last season. With this years divisional opponents they may have a good enough record for the playoffs, but they will be shut down in the playoffs because of a suspect secondary and an unknown running game. I have to say i enjoyed watching the Lions last year, and hopefully Megatron does well (he's on my fantasy team, along with Greg Jennings) but I don't think this team is quite ready just yet, I say they regress.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this monster post as much as I enjoyed writing it!