The Bear Den: The Five Players That Will Make or Break the Chicago Bears' Season

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The Bear Den: The Five Players That Will Make or Break the Chicago Bears' Season
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bears were a playoff team in 2005. They were a Super Bowl team in 2006, that looked like it was going to be on top of the NFC for another four or five years.

They were  mediocre at best in 2007. In 2008 they were a improving team that was a superstar away from winning the NFC North and finished one game out of a playoff spot.

Well now the Bears have that superstar and in 2009 the team looks to make the playoffs for the first time in two seasons.

These are the players that will make or break the 2009 season for the Bears. Will it be playoffs? Super Bowl? or just an average team at best?

5. Jay Cutler, QB

You might be asking why Cutler is only No. 5 on this list. Well to answer that, yes Cutler is going to have pressure on him right from the get go. Bears fans expect him to come out and play like he has in Denver.

I expect Cutler to play as he has played in previous seasons and be the quarterback that Bears fans hope he is.

The reason he is No. 5 is because Cutler will play up to expectations and help this team win. Even if he is playing as a average player I think his average is just as good as other quarterbacks good.

Cutler's got the leadership skills that this team needs.

He also makes everyone around him better. This will include Forte, Olsen and Hester.

4. Devin Hester, WR/KR

Hester struggled in the return game last season due to the fact he spent a lot of time on the offense. With Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd becoming free agents after last season, Hester's the leading receiver on the roster from last year.

He will most likely be the No. 1 receiver for the Bears and a instant deep threat for Cutler. If Cutler can find him and hit Hester in stride down the field, the Bears offense might be scary.

The thing to watch for on Hester is how many reps he will get at receiver this year. Last year he took  a lot of snaps on the offensive side of the ball, and his return game was horrible.

Hester will need to stay injury free and produce on the offensive side of the ball for the Bears to win the North.

Plus the third season is where most receivers tend to breakout.

3. Kevin Payne, S

With the departure of Mike Brown in the offseason, Kevin Payne now becomes the leader of the safety's. Payne is a hard hitting safety, yet some times last season he over ran the ball and that led to big plays for the opponent.

Payne needs to work on his coverage for him to be an elite safety in the league.

Payne is joined by Craig Steltz and new comer to the safety position Corey Graham. Payne will more than likely be the play maker safety from that group.

2. Matt Forte, RB

Forte is a workhorse and he showed it last year. He was in on about 90 percent of the teams offensive plays last season.

He finished in the top 10 in rushing, and also contributed in the air attack led by Kyle Orton. If Forte can put up the numbers he had last year, the Bears offense becomes that much better.

The knock on Forte that might lead to a sophomore slump will be injury's.

We seen Forte start to wear down towards the end of last season. Mainly because the Bears played him so much. If Kevin Jones can contribute to the offense this season, that will give Forte a rest and keep him fresh throughout the season.

1. Brian Urlacher, MLB

Remember when Urlacher was one of the most dominant linebackers in all of football a couple years ago? Well now many believe Lance Briggs is a better linebacker at the moment.

Urlacher has struggled since 2006, dealing with neck and back issues. He just hasn't been himself.

This year could be the last chance for a aging Urlacher to prove he still is one of the best linebackers the game.

When Urlacher is healthy and playing to his potential it seems like the whole defense feeds off his play. He is for sure the leader and captain of the defense and needs to prove that again in 2009.

If Urlacher is healthy then this could be one of the best defenses in the league again.

Honorable Mention

Nathan Vasher, CB

Needs to stay healthy.

Charles Tillman, CB

Hopefully with Vasher back, Peanut will take the load of his shoulder.

Greg Olsen, TE

It's time to emerge as a standout TE, Greg.

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