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The Bears, for the first time since 2004, have a new coach. Gone is Lovie Smith, here is former CFL Grey Cup winner Marc Trestman, known around the league as an offensive guru.
Brandon Marshall is a top-flight wideout, finishing with a career-high 118 receptions, as well as 11 touchdowns, in 2012. That was his first year with the team, and Marshall will only continue to get more comfortable with quarterback Jay Cutler, with whom he played in Denver to begin his career.
Matt Forte has developed into (when healthy) one of the very best running backs in the game. The former Tulane star finished last season with 1,094 rushing yards, the third time in his five pro seasons that he's reached the 1,000-yard mark on the ground.
The fact that he's an adept pass-catcher out of the backfield (his 44 catches last year were actually a career-low) also help an offense which is constantly trying to match its perennially elite defense.
That unit was, once again, a top-five outfit last season, finishing third in points allowed and allowing just six rushing touchdowns all season. Even with the unexpected retirement of surefire Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher in the offseason, the Bears defense looks to have a very strong 2013.
Led by linebacker Lance Briggs and safety Charles "Peanut" Tillman (whose ability to create turnovers is detailed here), the squad also features eight-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers (who posted 11.5 sacks last season) and Tim Jennings, who led the NFL in interceptions in '12 with nine.
After a 7-1 start last season, the Bears missed out on the playoffs in an NFC North which saw two of its other teams (Packers and Vikings) reach the postseason. Green Bay still may be a tough obstacle to overcome, but the Bears' D and a healthy Cutler should be enough to overcome the Vikings and Lions in 2013.