Chicago Bears: 4 Reasons the Defense Will Lead Team into the Playoffs

William SmithCorrespondent INovember 22, 2012

Chicago Bears: 4 Reasons the Defense Will Lead Team into the Playoffs

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    Monday's night overall debacle, a game in which the Chicago Bears were whooped 32-7 by the San Francisco 49ers, was a flash in the pain, especially for the defense.

    Was it just one of those nights, or did the Niners expose a weakness in the Bears defense?

    I believe it was just one of those games that happens once or twice a year where the defense does not perform up to it's lofty standards. They were dominated, as Colin Kaepernick dazzled with his skill set in his first professional start, passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The Niners out-gained the Bears 353-143 in yards and the Chicago defense yielded a season-high for points.

    The Bears do not grade out at the top in yards allowed—eighth against the run and 11th against the pass—yet they still have one of the league's best defenses and have forced a league-high 30 turnovers in their first 10 games.

    Despite the two-game skid, the Bears still stand at 7-3 and have a reasonable schedule the rest of the way with Minnesota, Seattle, Minnesota, Green Bay, Arizona and Detroit.

    On the strength of their defense, the Monsters of the Midway will find themselves in the postseason. Let's take a look at the key reasons why this defense will have the Bears playing in January.

Ability to Take Ball Away and Score

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    Not only do the Bears take the ball away, they have scored eight touchdowns doing so and have given the offense a short field on several occasions. 

    It seems a little harsh to criticize the defense for only having two takeaways in the last two games. They played two offenses who take care of the ball and limit mistakes, making it difficult for the defense to feast on those miscues.

    The Bears may not continue their current pace of forcing three turnovers per game, but they can certainly be opportunistic. With Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs and Tim Jennings as the ballhawks of this 2012 defense, Chicago will always have a chance to turn the momentum in their favor. 

Experience as a Group

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    With NFL free agency making it difficult for defensive units to form cohesion for years, the Bears have dispelled those notions and formed an excellent, long-term unit.

    Urlacher, Briggs and Tillman have shared the same field since the 2003 season, giving the Bears three invaluable pieces to a strong defense.

    Julius Peppers is in his third year with the defense, and other young players such as Major Wright and Tim Jennings are becoming more comfortable as they continue to grow as players. Jennings leads the NFL in interceptions with eight.

    Because they are so experienced, they will be able to go back to the drawing board and assess what went wrong, address what they need to fix and draw up a game plan for their next opponent. 

    Expect the Bears to rebound from a poor defensive effort against San Fran with a few dominating performances down the stretch. The leaders of this team will not accept anything less.

Pride

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    You have to believe the members of this defense were embarrassed by their performance against the Niners.

    This team will not accept that poor performance, and head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will surely have this defense ready for the stretch run. The Bears scheme will allow for some yardage to be gained against them, but they know their turnover creating ability will put the team in good shape.

    This defense has too much pride to let something like this happen against this year.

    While the Bears still have to play the Packers, they have always done a decent job of holding quarterback Aaron Rodgers in check.

    When they have a poor performance, they're motivated not to let it happen again.

Offensive Struggles

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    It seems like the offense has only clicked this year when the defense has made big plays. They are 31st in passing yards this season and 10th in rushing yards, leaving a lot to be desired on the offensive side of the ball.

    Cutler and company have thrived the most when the defense has given them good field position by creating turnovers. The defense must get back to doing this next week.  

    On most NFL teams, defenses are not expected to be the spark plug for getting an offense going. The Bears are an exception to that rule. 

    They will get back to their dominating ways at home against the Vikings in Week 12.