You have to beat the king to be the king, and the Chicago Bears want to be the king very badly.
It's no easy task, though, to catch a team who was deadly last season and actually got better this offseason.
So here is what the Bears need to do in order to catch the Packers.
New Offense Must Jell Quickly
It's always hard to install a new offense, but this time, the team in question is simplifying, not complicating. That doesn't mean that the Bears can be casual, though. A shift in offense is a shift in offense and takes time to install regardless of simplicity.
All that said, the quicker they can be firing on all cylinders, the better. While the Colts and Rams may not pose a huge issue in Weeks 1 and 3, the Packers and Cowboys will if the offense is stumbling around, especially on the road.
The Bears' first five games before an early bye should leave them in good shape, at worst 3-2. However, if the offense has issues and the team starts out slowly, a game could be lost which normally would be won, and that could be a huge problem.
The Packers game is especially important. If the offense is going well, then they have a shot of keeping up with—maybe beating—their hated divisional rivals.
If not, it will be hard to steal a win.
The sooner the offense gets going, the less chance the Bears drop a bad game and the sooner they can prepare for the tougher portions of the schedule.
Never Look Ahead
As I just mentioned, there are some alleged cakewalks for the Bears this season.
They shouldn't be fooled because on any given Sunday, anything can happen.
The Bears have some tough games. That means they can't afford to drop games they should win.
There are two reasons for this. First, the Packers won't be taking them casually, so you know they will probably come out on top. Second, many of these games are tiebreakers critical to the outcome of the season, both winning the divisional crown and a berth in the playoffs.
Speaking of tiebreakers—common opponents, head-to-head, division record, conference record—keep going down the list, and the Bears will want to own that tiebreaker.
Because you never know how the season will end and what random situation you might be in. You never know when you need that tiebreaker.
The fact is that the Packers are likely to be very good again this year. There is a very good chance the Bears could be tied with them or vying with them for playoff position in general.
It's awfully nice to have those tie breakers in your pocket.
Defense Must Stay Effective
As Nagler said in this video, the defense has begun to age a little. I do love the pick of Shea McClellin, and he should step right in and contribute alongside Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije from the start.
While Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are aging, both have plenty left in the tank and Nick Roach is a pup compared to them and capable of great play.
I see some depth issues, but nothing glaring along the front seven.
In order to overcome the Packers, the defense has to be lights-out, as it has largely been during Lovie Smith's tenure.
Not only do they need a great season from the defense in relation to the Packers, but they have some tough games against the Lions, Texans and Cowboys as well as offenses which could be tougher than at first glance in the 49ers, Titans and Panthers.
Defense may not automatically win championships anymore, but you can't win one without having one.
So as a whole, the defense needs to stay solid.
I'd like to see a few less yards allowed by the secondary.
The Bears ranked 28th against the pass in 2011, and while some of that reflects defense-wide, a lot of it falls on the shoulders of the secondary. Two hundred and fifty four yards allowed a game is pretty bad, although a middle-of-the-road 22 passing touchdowns takes the edge off it a bit.
The secondary adheres to Lovie Smith's bend but don't break principal. They are good at it. I'd like to see them tighten up just a bit to help counter the heavy passing that the opposing offenses they face in the division employ.
Must at Least Split Packers Games
Like I said to start: You want to be the champs, you need to beat them.
Ideally, of course, you want two wins. However, in conjunction with our next point, the Bears could get past the Packers if they split and some tiebreakers fall right.
They can get by without a sweep of the Packers; they will not get by if they are swept by the Packers however.
They need to take one from the Packers; otherwise, they leave themselves too open to outside forces.
J'Marcus Webb, Chris Williams or Gabe Carimi—someone needs to step up. The Bears think the line has enough talent to improve on last year's issues, enough that they have bet the season on it.
If the line falters, it will hurt the offense, especially Jay Cutler and the pass game.
Of course, new offensive coordinator Mike Tice feels his simplified blocking scheme and elimination of the seven-step drop will help enough to where they can cover any deficiencies.
It's a gamble that has to pay off.
The Bears have worked hard this offseason to get themselves in a position to take a run in the playoffs. Their best chance to make it is to be in charge of the division.
To do that, you have to go through the Packers.
To do that, these five things are critical.