With the disappointment of the 2009 season still fresh in my memory, I thought I'd look forward to the 2010 season and hope that would cheer me up.
Will it? No.
But, is it fun to make believe? Always.
So, without further pause, I give you what I would like to see the NFL hand us in terms of our schedule for next season. In terms of the teams we play, it is our turn to run through (or get run over by) the NFC East and AFC East.
I would hope that the NFL starts the Bears off easy, letting the Bears play against the piddly Lions, at home.
I think it is absolutely imperative that the Bears get off to a good start next season, and build their confidence as a team.
And what better way to build your confidence in the NFL then by playing the Detroit Lions. Sure, they might get a little bit better next season, but it should still be a win for the Bears.
Prediction: Bears 31-Lions 10
If playing the Lions can build team confidence, then playing the Buffalo Bills will only solidify that confidence.
At least one can hope. They did win six games in 2009, although none were all too impressive (TB, NYJ, CAR, MIA, KC, IND in Wk 17).
Being able to play Buffalo, in Buffalo, before the winter weather blankets the field will allow the Bears to play the game they want to play, without the great equalizer of the snowy conditions or freezing temperature.
The Bears defense should be able to stifle the "attack" of the Bills offense, with the Bears' offense being able to score enough on the Bills' surprisingly good pass defense.
Prediction: Bears 13-Bills 6
This is one of those games that could go either way. I definitely feel that Miami overachieved for part of 2009, but think their running attack is just about second to none. And, I don't mean that in the sense that they have the best running game, but just the most "original."
If the Bears can stop the Wildcat, they win this game with ease against the mediocre Dolphins' defense. But, if the running game can break any big plays for the Dolphins, I think the Bears would be in for a long day.
The Bears' run defense was not good at all last season, and even with Urlacher coming back, I don't feel they will be any better next season.
Prediction: Dolphins 28-Bears 17
This picture captures just about what Adrian Peterson does to the Bears each time they play, it seems. He doesn't always get the big yardage against Chicago, but he always seems to bowl over the defense into the end zone once or twice each time the teams meet.
The big question for 2010 will be if Brett Favre stays and plays. I believe he is going to, unless they win the Super Bowl this season, which I don't think they will.
If Brett Favre stays, this game goes an entirely different route. The passing game for Minnesota is a step above other teams this season with the year Favre has had, but sub in Sage Rosenfels and the same scenario does not exist. Sidney Rice becomes a little less explosive and Percy Harvin seems to be under-or-overthrown much too often.
But, they still have Adrian Peterson and that incredible defensive line of theirs. And, those two matchups are our weaknesses.
Prediction: Vikings 27-Bears 14
I don't think the Bears are worthy of a Monday night game, but Monday night scheduling seems to only be about one team these days. And, the Bears are still a national draw, so I figure they will still be scheduled for some Monday night action.
I'm still not sold on Tony Romo as an elite quarterback. I think he is an above average regular season quarterback, but if you want to be vaulted into the elite status, you need to win BIG in the Playoffs. I think the Cowboys just had Philadelphia's number this season, and that is the only reason they won that game.
With that said, the Cowboys are an all-around better team than the Bears. It doesn't take an elite quarterback to pick on the Bears secondary. And, with a good running game that will transition into Felix Jones being the main man next season, the Bears will struggle containing the Cowboys offense from putting points on the board.
And, the Cowboys have an underrated secondary that is only going to be better next season, and has the ability to shut down the Bears receivers.
Prediction: Cowboys 30-Bears 14
This could be the highlight of our 2010 season, as well.
In the scheduling, since the Bears ended up in third place in the NFC North, they must play the third place team from the NFC South, which ended up being the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers are a team that will probably end up making a few moves this offseason, so we do not know exactly what their team will look like come Week Seven next season, but if they still have DeAngelo Williams and a healthy Jonathan Stewart, we know the Bears defense will be tested.
Along with that, the Panthers had one of the top passing defenses in the NFL this past season, so the Bears could find themselves in a little bit of a battle. But, I still feel as if the Panthers will struggle in 2010 much like they did in 2009 and this is a game the Bears could sneak away with.
Matt Forte is due to have a big game here and there, right?
Prediction: Bears 21-Panthers 20
With having to play the third place team in the NFC South, we also must play the third place finisher in the NFC West, which ended up being the 5-11 Seattle Seahawks.
This time was terrible. They had some good moments last season when they were mildly healthy, but overall they were one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Not to say the Bears were much better, but I would have to think that they are still going to struggle from the injury bugs that seem to hit the same players on their squad each season, and the Bears can capitalize on playing the second string.
They had one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, and the passing game may be the only thing the Bears have going for them next season.
Prediction: Bears 38-Seahawks 7
I will just say that I love seeing Tom Brady get hit.
Can I just say that the Bears have no chance and leave it at that?
Do you need me to say more?
Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh. This isn't the same Patriots team of old dominance, but they still have a better coach, better QB, better WR, and better defense (although not by too much) than the Bears do.
Prediction: Patriots 34-Bears 21
I am not even sure where the Packers came from. I remember, halfway through the season, looking at the North standings and thinking "Wow, everyone but Minnesota sucks." The Packers were 4-4 at one point.
Next thing I know, they are 11-5 and semi-favorites heading into their playoff matchup against Arizona.
Aaron Rodgers definitely stepped his game up this season. I do think a lot of his play had to do with their schedule, but overall I would say he has boosted himself into the second tier of quarterbacks in the League today.
If he stays healthy, and either Donald Driver keeps his good play up or they find a good replacement for him, the Bears won't stand a chance against them.
But, as I always say, anything goes in rivalry games. Still, I don't think the Bears stand a chance against a team with a great offense and an equally great defense.
Prediction: Packers 34-Bears 16
I like to think this game has everything to do with stopping this man to the left. DeSean Jackson verified himself as a threat this season.
And, with the Bears secondary struggling at times this season, going up against an electric player such as Jackson is exactly the situation the Bears won't want to be in.
If Westbrook can stay healthy, or LeSean McCoy can step up and be Brian Westbrook 2.0, that would add another wrinkle to the Eagles offense that the Bears would struggle against.
The Philadelphia Eagles don't have the same secondary that they used to, but it's not as if the Bears are sporting Pro Bowl wide receivers. I think the Eagles secondary and run defense will be just good enough to hold off the Bears attack.
Prediction: Eagles 27-Bears 17
This was my season to gloat (outside of being a Bears fan). And, the reason for that was because I have been saying all along that the Giants are not as good as people wanted to believe.
Yes, they won the Super Bowl a couple years ago. But, it's like they always say, if a team gets hot at the right time, they can beat anybody. Look at the Cardinals last year, with them coming a toe tap away from winning the Super Bowl themselves.
The Giants took a major hit losing Derrick Ward and then seeing Brandon Jacobs being hampered by minor injuries all season. They just weren't the same team without that vaunted running game they sported during their Super Bowl season.
I tried to tell everyone that Eli Manning wasn't an elite quarterback, and some agreed but still wanted to argue he was a great game manager. They said the same thing about Kyle Orton. How did those two fair this season?
Overrated and very beatable.
They sported one of the worst defenses in the NFL, allowing almost 27 points per game.
But, do the Bears have the necessary tools to pull off a victory on the road?
Simple answer. No.
Long answer. Jay Cutler makes too many mistakes and this will be one of those games where he just can't seem to get it right.
Prediction: Giants 20-Bears 10
He got to know Jay Cutler fairly well this season. He sacked him twice and intercepted him once. And, probably hit him quite a few other times.
It will be much of the same in this meeting, unless the Bears can do something about their offensive line troubles.
Again, with their defense and Adrian Peterson, I just don't see the Bears being able to beat a team of this caliber. I know they beat them this season, but that was in Week 16 when the Vikings already knew they had the playoffs wrapped up.
Prediction: Vikings 27-Bears 14
I wish I had been writing about the Bears back when they dumped Thomas Jones to go in a different direction. How good does that move look now? Imagine how good the Bears could be if they still had a back with his ability lining up in the backfield.
I understand that the Jets line is better than the Bears is, but the line is only half the running game. The other half is still on the running backs shoulders, and Matt Forte just seems to have crappy shoulders.
The Jets sport the best running tandem in football right now. And to think that Shonn Greene is only a rookie and will only get better next season is scary.
With the Bears struggling against the run and the Jets being the best pass defense in the NFL, this might be another one of those games where the Bears stand no chance.
The only thing that might give them the chance...Mark Sanchez. I'm not sold on this guy being a great quarterback. I am positive he will get better, but I put him in the mold of a Kyle Orton. He just doesn't have the chops to be a great passer. If he has the running game and defense behind him, he will be able to be an above average quarterback, but if he is ever relied on to win games with his arm, he will be spotlighted as the average quarterback he really is.
But, still, the Bears offensive weapons and defense are no match for the Jets defense and running game.
Prediction: Jets 24-Bears 3
Like I said before, anything can happen in a rivalry game.
The Bears can win against the Packers if they play with passion and can make a few big plays on offense and defense.
Do I think the Bears are up for that challenge? Absolutely.
Do I think they will be good enough to make some big plays throughout the season? Yes I do.
Do I think it will happen against Green Bay, in Green Bay, when the Packers will probably be fighting for playoff positioning? No I don't.
Prediction: Packers 41-Bears 28
If the NFL scheduling gods can be nice enough to allow us to start off the season with easy games, why can't they be nice enough to allow us to end the season with easy games?
Enter the Detroit Lions.
And, enter Jay Cutler doing the same thing he did this season when he struggles most of the year and then dominates at the end of the season against inferior talent and makes the fans believe better days are to come.
Prediction: Bears 44-Lions 23
Let's go ahead and end the season with a win, huh?
I predict the Redskins will be in turmoil once again this upcoming season. It doesn't take Nostradamus to predict that.
This game won't even need a recap.
Prediction: Bears 27-Redskins 13
The Bears end up 6-10.
But, with not having a first or second round pick, and most likely be cheap going after free agents, why would anyone think the Bears would get better?
I predict Lovie will be gone after next season, and Bill Cowher will be moving into the Chicago area.
At least a fan can hope, right?
I believe he is not going to take a coaching job this season, because none of the "elite" teams/markets have openings.
I also predict the Matt Forte era ends after 2010. He will be looked at as a true bust after this next season and the Bears will have to go looking for a new running back.
I think we can expect good numbers out of Devin Aromashadu and Greg Olsen, but not great ones.
I think Devin Hester's numbers take a hit and he is relegated to running fly patterns and slant routes, which is what he should be doing.
Overall, as of right now, the 2010 season is not one to look forward to. I am hoping that the Bears front office will decide to make something happen this offseason and go after something big like they did last season with the trade for Cutler.
The Bears need help all around, so don't settle for only small moves, Jerry.