Why the Chicago Bears Will Win the NFC North

Stephen NitzContributor IMay 13, 2009

LAKE FOREST, IL - APRIL 3:  Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, quarterback Jay Cutler and head coach Lovie Smith are all smiles after introducing Cutler as their new quarterback during a press conference on April 3, 2009 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty Images)

Alright Bears fans, how many of you thought the Bears had a legitimate chance of landing Jay Cutler this offseason? If you're telling the truth, very few of you will say yes.

Jerry Angelo just doesn't make big moves like the one he made earlier this season, acquiring Cutler from Denver for Kyle Orton and a bundle of draft picks. But he proved everybody wrong in March.

The addition of Cutler makes the Bears the favorites in the NFC North. Chicago went 9-7 a year ago, finishing second to 10-6 Minnesota. The Vikings should be competitive, but they haven't really done anything to improve this offseason and still have Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.

How much will first round picks B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews improve Green Bay's defense, which ranked 22nd in the NFL in points allowed in 2008? The Lions are still the Lions.

Cutler wasn't Chicago's only addition either. The Bears also added seven time all-pro tackle Orlando Pace to play left tackle. Chris Williams, last year's first round pick, will move over to the right side. Williams missed most of last season with a back injury but should be healthy for the 2009 season.

Chicago's biggest weakness will be at wide receiver. The Chicago receiver with the most catches last season was Devin Hester, who had just 51. There isn't much after Hester, as Rashied Davis, Earl Bennett, and rookies Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox could see significant time on the field. 

At least Cuter will still have running back Matt Forte and tight end Greg Olsen at his disposal. Forte ran for 1,238 yards in 2008 and was the team's leading receiver with 68 catches. Olsen, a 2007 first round pick out of Miami, caught 54 passes for 578 yards in 2008.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears finished 16th in the NFL in points allowed in 2008. The group just hasn't been the same since the 2006 season. The Bears only had 28 sacks last season, something that has to change if the defense is going to look like the defense of old.

At defensive tackle, you never know if Tommy Harris and Dusty Dvoracek will be healthy. The defense is clearly better when Harris is at his best.

Before the Cutler trade, the Bears were probably a .500 team. But in a weak division, Cutler should put Chicago over the top.