The Green Bay Packers are widely considered to be the favorites to win the NFC North—as they seem to be be every year.
Did they do enough, though?
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall have done this before, throwing passes and touchdowns in Denver years back. Replicating that success is a must if they are to catch the Pack. The addition of rookie Alshon Jeffery will also be a huge boon to the offensive unit, though it might take a while for him to completely emerge.
Jeffery and Marshall join Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and tight end Kellen Davis in what could be a surprisingly potent offense.
Of course, the defense didn't get worse, though perhaps a tad older. Brian Urlacher's injury is a concern, as his knee is still healing, but for the most part, this defense looks set to pick up where it left off.
The Packers have their own offensive weapons. It's really hard to compare the two teams, even with the additions the Bears have made. At worst, the offenses are even. But really, the Packers still have a leg up with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermicheal Finley, Randall Cobb and, of course, Aaron Rodgers.
The Bears can hope that the Packers' pass rush stays as stagnant as it was in 2011. But so far, rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy look like the real deal, and the team is trying to find new and different ways to get All-Pro defensive back Charles Woodson involved.
If the pass rush chokes, though, the Bears have a shot.
Unless the offensive line implodes. J'Marcus Webb is the left tackle for now. But based on the first preseason game, it looks like much of the same problems this year as in years past. Granted, no Jay Cutler and no Matt Forte, but Webb (and right guard Lance Louis) struggled. The whole line struggled.
It's too early to guarantee anything, but it looks like the Bears' offensive line will once again be their Achilles' heel. The Packers have a real problem at left tackle too, but the difference is that the rest of the Green Bay line is Pro Bowl caliber.
Not so Chicago.
Sorry, folks. The Bears have closed the gap, but they will still fall short of the division crown this year.
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