Yes, it's only training camp. But it's never too early to look ahead to the Bears' 2010 schedule and go game-by-game on how the Bears will fare in 2010.
It's going to be a tough season, but by year's end, I expect the Bears to be a playoff contender.
The Bears kick off the season against the Detroit Lions.
Detroit beefed up this off-season through the draft landing defensive lineman Suh, who could make an early impact for the Lions. Jahvid Best is also a nice pick up through the draft. Matthew Stafford is in his second season and Calvin Johnson returns for another year.
However all of this is not enough for the Chicago Bears, especially in Soldier Field.
Chicago starts the year off right and beats Detroit convincingly.
Result: Bears win 34-10
Bears record: 1-0
This will be Chicago's first true test of the season. Beat the Cowboys in Dallas and they're well on their way to dominating the NFC. Lose a close game to Dallas and you're still looking OK. Either way, this game shows who the Bears will be this season.
Prediction: 28-24 Dallas
Bears record: 1-1
Bears-Packers is one of the most heated NFL rivalries in history (and the oldest). Green Bay is my favorite to win the NFC North. With that shut-down defense, Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and an offense that can score points at will, this team will be tough to beat.
Though I think the season series will be split at 1-1, I do think that the Bears get their victory in a close game at home.
Result: 24-17 Bears
Bears record: 2-1
Coming off last week's big Packer win, Chicago will come into the Meadowlands pumped up and ready to go.
Chicago's offense should be enough to overpower New York's aging defense and the Bear's defense should be enough to cap New York's offense. That said, I do think in the end, it will be a defensive battle with the Bears coming out on top.
Result: 20-10 Bears
Bears record: 3-1
The Bears still have a bad taste in their mouth from the last time these two teams met back in 2008. Carolina won in overtime.
Chicago's Julius Peppers returns to Carolina, likely with a fire in his belly to prove to his old team that these Bears are hungry.
Besides, Carolina is a shell of what they used to be in 2008 and will be no match for Chicago.
Result: 27-10 Bears
Bears record: 4-1
Last season, Bears-Seahawks turned out to be a thriller with Chicago just barely edging out Seattle in their house.
This time, the Bears are back and find Seattle coming into Soldier Field. Seattle is still in re-building mode and by all accounts, we're not even sure Matt Hasselbeck will be healthy.
Bears win big.
Result: 31-13 Bears
Bears record: 5-1
The last time these two met was in the 2007 season when Rex Grossman had an interception-ridden game that cost the Bears the late victory.
Now, Washington comes into town with Donovan McNabb at the helm to try and guide the Redskins back to the top of the NFC East.
McNabb has always played well in Soldier Field, and I expect him to continue the same ways, even in a Redskins uniform.
Result: 27-24 Redskins
Bears record: 5-2
Rest up boys. You're 5-2 through the first half of the season, time to turn up the heat for the home stretch.
Two things to consider:
1) Buffalo is a bad football team
2) Just because they're playing in Toronto, won't mean they'll turn into a good team.
Result: 31-7 Bears
Bears record: 6-2
The last time these two teams squared off, we were treated to an epic battle in which Chicago came out on top in overtime (after letting Brett Favre come back from 21 points to win).
As with the Green Bay series, I do think they will split with the Vikings. And like the Packers series, I think with or without Favre the Bears will beat the Vikings in Soldier Field.
Result: 27-20 Bears
Bears record: 7-2
It's been a long time since the Bears and Dolphins squared off on a gridiron, four years in fact.
In 2006, Miami de-railed Chicago's undefeated march as they blew out the Bears in Soldier Field. Chicago, of course, went on to lose the Super Bowl to Indianapolis that season (in Miami, I might add).
Don't kid yourselves Bears fans, the Dolphins are going to be a good football squad this year. Brandon Marshall, Chad Henne and Ronnie Brown are locked and loaded to take down the visiting 7-2 Bears.
Result: 31-27 Dolphins
Bears record: 7-3
Last season, Chicago lost a heartbreaker to Philadelphia that, with a win, could've started a winning streak the guided the Bears to the playoffs. Maybe not.
Nonetheless, the Bears get a re-match with Philly in Chicago in Week 12, with the final playoff push on the line.
On paper, Chicago is a better football team than Philadelphia, it's just a matter of whether or not they want to show it.
I think yes.
Result: 24-23 Bears
Bears record: 8-3
Earlier in the season, Chicago blind-sided Detroit 31-7 in Soldier Field and after coming off of a big win against Philadelphia, the Bears will carry the momentum into this game and beat Detroit once again.
Result: 28-13 Bears
Bears record: 9-3
The last time Chicago played New England came in the late weeks of the 2006 season when Tom Brady juked Brian Urlacher for the winning touchdown, making him look silly.
The Patriots will lose more games this year than usual (I say they'll struggle to go 9-7) but one of those victories wll come against Chicago.
I still like New England's advantage on offense over the Bears' defense. It'll come down to a defensive battle.
Result: 17-14 Patriots
Bears record: 9-4
Regardless if Brett Favre plays this season, I still believe that Minnesota is a good enough ball club to beat the Bears at least once this season.
And that win comes this week.
Adrian Peterson goes off for over 100 yards on Chicago's defense, while the Vikings defense plays with a renewed passion after losing to Chicago back in week 10.
Result: 27-20 Vikings
Bears record: 9-5
The season is on the line for Chicago. With two weeks to go, they're 9-5 with an opportunity to go 11-5, or 9-7. Simply put, 9-7 won't be enough for the playoffs. 10-6 may not be enough either.
The Bears will recognize the sense of urgency. And they'll come out and play the game of their lives.
New York, many people's Super Bowl pick comes into Chicago for the first time in nearly a decade. You can say all you want about their great defense, their re-vamped offense or their great coaching staff.
But if you know anything about the Chicago Bears, you would know that despite their record, they manage to win one game every season that they really weren't supposed to win.
This is that game.
Result: 21-20 Bears
Bears Record: 10-5
Chicago comes into this game 10-5, with a chance to lock up the division with a win over the Packers. A loss, and the Bears will have to leave their fate up to the Wild Card which likely will come down to Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia, New York Giants, Washington, Atlanta and San Francisco.
What's sad about the Bears is they were 6-2 at the halfway point of the campaign but faltered to a 4-3 stretch run.
And now, a week 17 showdown could mean playoffs or no playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Green Bay will beat the Bears at home and clinch the NFC North. In the meantime, Chicago will be forced to watch their fate fall out of their hands, and into the computer's formulas that determine NFL tiebreakers.
Result: 31-13 Packers
Bears record: 10-6
The NFL playoff format only allows for six teams in each conference to make the playoffs, the top four being the division champions. The remaining two spots are left for the 12 teams who didn't win their division. That's 10 teams who will go home in the NFC before January 7.
Are the Bears one of those teams?
According to my predictions, I have the following teams winning their division:
Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco and Green Bay.
Counting out the Rams, Buccaneers and Lions, who have virtually no chance of making the playoffs, that leaves nine NFC teams who will duke it out for two wild-card slots.
Included in that group New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Carolina, Atlanta, Seattle, Arizona, Minnesota and Chicago.
Of those nine teams, I only have three teams going over .500 (8-8 or better).
Minnesota, Atlanta, and Chicago
All three of those teams will be 10-6.
So who's the odd one out?
Neither Minnesota nor Chicago plays Atlanta this season, which leaves the Falcons playoffs hopes in the hands of their record against the NFC and the division. Atlanta plays against the Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers in the division. I feel like 2 of their 6 losses come against the division. That puts them at 4-2. Chicago will be 4-2 against the division, as will Minnesota. We're still tied three ways.
Next, who's the best against the NFC? Chicago will be 8-4 against the NFC while Minnesota (depending of course on a number of factors, Favre being the biggest) should be 8-4 as well. Atlanta? They'll be 7-5.
Atlanta is the odd-team out.
Final prediction: Bears make the playoffs as the 5th playoff seed.