No matter how bad it looks, Bears aren't hopeless

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There are times when it seems particularly difficult to be a sports fan, and if you live in Chicago, no one feels your pain like Bill Swerski.

Never mind that Swerski is the mythical creation of a classic "Saturday Night Live" skit. The man represents a cult of Windy City superfans who, by all measures, are having one of their worst weeks in recent memory. First Michael Jordan gave a decidedly undignified Hall of Fame induction speech better suited for a therapist's office – or his bathroom mirror. Then, a certain team known as Da Bears traveled to Lambeau Field for a season-opening showdown with the rival Packers on Sunday night, and the nightmare intensified: In his first game with the team, presumed franchise savior Jay Cutler had the worst game of his life, throwing four interceptions in a 21-15 defeat.


Urlacher and the Bears kept the pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

(Jim Pirsching/AP Photo)

Now comes the news that the Bears' other star, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, is out for the season with a dislocated wrist. As with Tom Brady last season, Jerry Rice in 1997, Rod Woodson in '95 and Randall Cunningham in '91, Urlacher's injury, suffered in the first quarter, is one of those opening-week buzzkills that will live in infamy.

However, the Bears' situation isn't hopeless. Cutler rallied the team in the second half before throwing his final interception with 58 seconds remaining, and even without Urlacher the defense looked reenergized with coach Lovie Smith calling the signals. Chicago still has a fabulous and physical linebacker on the outside (Lance Briggs), and enough good players on both sides of the ball to remain competitive.

In the meantime, the Packers sit in the upper echelon of our initial top-to-bottom ranking of NFL teams, while Da Bears are barely in the top half. And guess who's coming to Solider Field next Sunday? The defending Super Bowl champs – and the team with which we'll begin our can't-miss list of piercing queries.

It's enough to give Bill Swerski a heart attack. Or maybe that's just the bratwurst.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: How sick was Troy Polamalu's airborne, left-handed interception against the Titans – and how nauseous will Steelers fans get watching the defense play without him for the next three-to-six weeks?

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Is there any way the NFL doesn't fine the Panthers' Damione Lewis for the obviously late hit that broke Donovan McNabb's rib?

3. Tennessee Titans: At his current weight, shouldn't tight end Alge Crumpler be a registered weapon?

4. Baltimore Ravens: If Joe Flacco and his offensive teammates are capable of consistently summoning the firepower they displayed against the Chiefs, shouldn't the rest of the NFL be sort of scared?

5. Green Bay Packers: Hey, all you remaining Aaron Rodgers bashers in Cheesehead Nation – starting to feel a little lonelier?

6. New York Giants: When middle linebacker Antonio Pierce proclaims that he's up for a game, should I be a little grossed out?

7. New England Patriots: Should we be awed by their unrelenting grit, or concerned that they needed a Bills meltdown to prevail over Buffalo at home Monday night?

8. Atlanta Falcons: Yo, Jack Del Rio – did you catch Mike Peterson's(notes) performance last Sunday, and were you aware of the inspiration you undoubtedly provided him?

9. Dallas Cowboys: Is it just me, or does Tony Romo(notes) seem a little pissed off at the world this year (in a good way)?

10. Indianapolis Colts: How long will it be until opposing defenses start triple-covering Reggie Wayne(notes)?

11. New Orleans Saints: When a veteran player sends a text the day after the opener to inform me that "25 guys in our locker room want to kick Kanye West's ass" in the wake of his MTV Video Music Awards outburst, is that a sign that the Lions didn't leave much of a lingering impression? (And, more important, should the rapper be worried?)

12. New York Jets: Is there any doubt that Rex Ryan has a special knack for getting players to sacrifice their physical well being for him?

13. San Diego Chargers: Based on the conclusion of Monday night's victory over the Raiders, is there any doubt that Norv Turner considers Darren Sproles(notes) his top halfback (instead of a perpetually injured LT)?

14. San Francisco 49ers: Is Mike Singletary going to bore us all the way to the postseason – and how appreciative will Niners fans be if that happens?

15. Arizona Cardinals: Are they waiting to flip the switch, and if so, do they realize they're in danger of being electrocuted?

16. Chicago Bears: If Johnny Knox(notes) keeps burning defenders, how long until some smartass in an opposing secondary calls him a "Jackass"?

17. Minnesota Vikings: Yo, Dana White, can you please get Brett Favre(notes) and Terry Bradshaw into the Octagon?

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Don't you get the feeling that if Matt Cassel(notes) had played in the opener, the Chiefs would've snuck out of Baltimore with an upset victory?

19. Washington Redskins: Instead of being a unified force in the face of intense pressure, doesn't it seem like Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell(notes) are in need of some couples therapy?

20. Miami Dolphins: Isn't it time for Ted Ginn Jr.(notes) to become the game-changer that the prior regime projected him to be – and, more important, what better time for me to dredge up my favorite draft day clip?

21. Seattle Seahawks: After working with Michael Vick(notes) in Atlanta and JaMarcus Russell(notes) in Oakland, how psyched is offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp to be coaching a mature, ultra-professional quarterback like Matt Hasselbeck(notes)?

22. Jacksonville Jaguars: When David Garrard(notes) got paid, did the Jags get played?

23. Buffalo Bills: Did Leodis McKelvin(notes) have money on the Patriots to win outright Monday or was he simply trying to keep me alive in the World's Simplest Pool?

24. Carolina Panthers: When Julius Peppers(notes) demanded a trade over the offseason, did he know something the rest of us didn't?

25. Denver Broncos: Was linebacker Spencer Larsen(notes) one of those kids who never listened when the lifeguard screamed, "No running on deck!"?

26. Cincinnati Bengals: As Brandon Stokley(notes) was racing down the sideline with that miracle touchdown catch, what are the odds that the first two words out of Chad Ochocinco's(notes) mouth were, "Child, please!"

27. Oakland Raiders: Forget Michael Crabtree(notes) – shouldn't Louis Murphy(notes) be upset that he's not getting paid as much as fellow rookie wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes)?

28. Houston Texans: What is it about this team that makes me wonder whether its players believe the preseason lasts until mid-October?

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Granted, they have a lot of problems, but how cool is it to see that used Cadillac(notes) run?

30. Cleveland Browns: If Randy Lerner were to fire Eric Mangini before the end of the season, how hilarious would it be if the owner kept it a secret until game time?

31. St. Louis Rams: Is Kyle Boller(notes) warming up in the bullpen yet?

32. Detroit Lions: Are the '76-'77 Bucs getting nervous?