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Bears Season Preview

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 8, 2006 3:01PM

2006_09_sports_nfl_football.jpgThe Bears open their 2006 season on Sunday against the Packers up in Green Bay. What a way to kick the season off! While the Bears look to figure into the playoff picture, the Packers are focusing on the Brett Favre farewell (maybe) tour. The Bears should open with a key road victory against a division opponent, but in these big rivalries, one never knows.

So just how good are the Bears this year? That's still up for debate. The Sun-Times made a game-by-game forecast that has the Bears finishing at 9-7. The Trib assembled their entire crack team to predict the Bears' season, too (1st half| 2nd half).

Here in the Chicagoist offices, our crack team of statisticians, brain surgeons and rocket scientists believe they will go 12-4. The defense is at least equal to last year's squad, and the offense couldn't possibly be worse. Rex Grossman is certainly better than Kyle Orton, and if he's not up to the task then there is experienced vet Brian Griese waiting in the wings. The ongoing battle between Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson should improve the running game, and hopefully some receiver can emerge as the second option after Muhsin Muhammad.

Clearly, a 12-4 record will win the NFC North. The rest of the division comes into 2006 with changes a plenty. All three teams have new head coaches, as they try to right wrongs both on and off the field. The Green Bay Packers hired Mike McCarthy as head coach, who spent last season as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers -- the worst offense in the NFL. Huh? And he's previously coached for the Pack, as their QB coach in 1999 -- Brett Favre's worst season as a pro. So this team isn't going anyplace this year.

The Minnesota Vikings are trying to purge themselves of the off-field problems that plagued the team last year, including the infamous "love boat" cruise and Mike Tice's ticket scalping. He's gone as head coach in spite of a 9-7 season, replaced by Brad Childress. Will he instill the discipline the team needs? Changes on the field include the loss of Daunte Culpepper, who's now in Miami. And following a recent DWI, formerly reformed wide receiver Koren Robinson was cut. Neither seemed to fit into Childress' plans. If any team is going to challenge the Bears for the division, it'll be the Vikes.

The Detroit Lions also have a new coach at the helm, with Rod Marinelli becoming the latest in a string of former Tampa Bay assistants landing head coaching jobs. Most have been successful, but it'll certainly take some time for Detroit to fix things. They finally gave up on Joey Harrington and will start Jon Kitna at QB. Recently, they picked wide recievers high in the first round for three consecutive years . They recently cut Charles Rogers, and Mike Williams has yet to live up to the hype. But the Lions now have former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator. Can he work the same magic he did with the Rams' offense? It'll help,but they're still pretty weak.

With all that said, here's how we predict the NFC North will finish up. We'll also give you our predictions from last year and the actual standings.

Chicagoist's NFC North Predictions:
 2006 Prediction2005 Final2005 Prediction