Bears blanked in NFC North expert predictions

Bryan Perez
NBC Sports Chicago

Now that NFL training camps are open across the league and football talk has moved from transactions to on-field practices, the narrative around the Chicago Bears is becoming slightly more pessimistic.

In a recent poll of NFL analysts, not a single vote was cast for the Bears to win the NFC North. Instead, of the eight analysts polled, five voted for the Vikings and three chose the Packers.

"The Vikings were dominant on defense last year and will be again in 2018, but now the offense will be as impactful with Kirk Cousins at quarterback and Dalvin Cook healthy at running back. The Vikings will do more than win the NFC North; they should be a favorite to challenge to win the whole conference."

Those are some lofty expectations for Minnesota and a big leap of faith to make in a quarterback who has yet to prove in his career that he's capable of winning a Super Bowl. Sure, Cousins is playing with arguably the best supporting cast he's ever had, but his addition isn't an automatic ticket to the big dance.

The Packers will always be a contender as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, and always have to be considered a favorite in the division, but the Bears represent the young, up-and-coming club that the bullies on the block need to get ready for. 

It's certainly too soon to expect Chicago to be in the mix for a division crown this year, but stranger things have happened. Just ask Jared Goff and the Rams.

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