The preseason is finally over. Despite it only being four weeks long, it feels like an eternity every year. I think the frustrating thing about the preseason is that you don't really feel like you learn anything as fans. I'm sure the coaches do, but every time a player does well there is an asterisk --"It's only preseason," "He did that against that team's third stringers," etc. As the regular season commences, everything finally counts. On the whole, the Chicago Bears ended up with a pretty decent schedule in terms of it being overly difficult. However, the Bears will be tested early. The first month throws a little bit of everything at Chicago and, given the presumed competitiveness of the NFL North, should set the tone.
Week 1 - Indianapolis ColtsMuch like the second game of the preseason against the Washington Redskins, this is a game where Bears fans will be the only ones watching the Bears. The rest of the world will have their eyes focused squarely on Andrew Luck. While I think Luck will ultimately be a strong pick, the Bears are a tough defense to deal with in your professional debut --though pocket passers seem to function better against the Bears' defense. Combine that with a much-improved Bears' offense and that the game is at Soldier Field, the Bears ought to win this one.
Week 2 - @ Green Bay PackersThe Bears' ultimate test comes early on. While part of me prefers playing the Packers early (they might not be in-sync yet), if the game doesn't go well it could be disheartening. It's also dangerous to have a really tough game in week two in case of a stumble in week one. While I think the Bears have a lot to offer this season, and have the capability to go far, I can't pick against the Packers at Lambeau Field. If the Bears win this one, I'll be a full-fledged believer.
Week 3 - St. Louis RamsOf the Bears' first four weeks, this is the "easiest." However, being a week after the Packers, it has "trap game" written all over it. The Bears just have more talent than the Rams and I expect Chicago to handle this one. If a win over the Packers would make me a believer, a loss to the Rams in Chicago would make me concerned for season.
Week 4 - @ Dallas CowboysThe Cowboys are always tough to call. Throughout Tony Romo's entire career, the Cowboys could be a Super Bowl-caliber team one week, and look like a bottom feeder the next. Since the NFC North is set to be a tough place to survive in order to be there in the end, these are the types of games the Bears will have to win all season --games against quality teams, even if not elite. With the Packers and Detroit Lions lurking in the division, there isn't much room for missteps or "bad" losses. I think the Bears can win this game. They'll need to.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.
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