With all the negativity surrounding the Chicago Bears, you'd never guess they're actually in first place in the NFC North, and tied for best record in the NFC at 4-2.
It might be a case of the Bears getting lucky and taking advantage of an easy schedule thus far, but first place is first place any way you slice it.
This is a team, however, that is very flawed and will need to correct several important areas if they have hopes of returning to the postseason.
Defensively, the Bears are in the upper-echelon of the NFL right now, ranking third in the league giving up just 16.2 points a game.
They are eighth in the league in total yards allowed per game (304) and third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (84).
Their pass defense needs improvement, sure, but there can be little to complain about with this defense right now.
The addition of defensive end Julius Peppers has helped, and although he still needs a partner in crime on the defensive line, opposing offenses certainly have had to re-evaluate this Bears defense with the presence of Peppers.
Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are playing at a Pro Bowl-level right now, giving the Bears one of the better linebacker groups in the league.
The secondary, a major concern before the regular season began, has played well enough given the uncertainty in some areas.
No one can argue that this team is 4-2 and in first place because of their defensive play, and not because of anything the offense has done.
The offense sputtered again last week against the Seattle Seahawks in a game most "experts" figured the Bears would win.
You all know the problems.
Absolutely no pass protection for quarterback Jay Cutler due to a porous offensive line.
Little running room for backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor due to a very bad offensive line.
No emergence of any type of No. 1 wide receiver due to a very weak group of wideouts.
There are far too many negatives than positives for this offensive group, and offensive coordinator Mike Martz is clearly in way over his head.
His passing attack which is based on seven-step drops and timed, precise routes, simply is not the right fit for this offense, which features a lot of good college players, but no real good NFL players (with the exception of Cutler and maybe Forte).
The offensive line can not hold blocks for the length of time Cutler needs to makes proper reads, and even if it did, his receivers are not polished enough to handle such disciplined assignments.
What you have is a total mess of bad players playing worse because they're playing out of position and out of their schemes.
The Bears are 22nd in the NFL in passing yards per game (192), in what was supposed to be Martz's strength as a coach.
With the run, the Bears are 26th with 92 rushing yards a game.
So, you're talking about an offense that can't run (we knew that coming into 2010) and now an offense that can't pass either.
And you're 4-2?
Am I missing something?
Again, let's remember that the Bears in all likelihood should have lost at least one game already (Detroit Lions Week 1), and were aided by a foolish Green Bay Packers team that committed more penalties than hookups on the Jersey Shore.
If those games are reversed, this is a 2-4 team and we're probably not using the word "postseason" much—unless we're talking about places the Bears won't be visiting.
With all of the messes and mishaps that the 2010 Bears have already endured, they have a very real chance at moving to 5-2 this week against a Washington Redskins team that can't defend anyone.
With 420 yards allowed per game, the Redskins defense is dead last in the NFL in total yards allowed per game.
One would think that if the Bears can't move the ball and score against this defense then they simply can't move the ball and score against anyone—that sadly might be the case.
So, we have another important "swing" game for the 2010 Bears.
A win Sunday gives the Bears hope that with five more victories (give or take) they can win a division and/or return to the playoffs after a three-year absence.
A Sunday loss would speak volumes about where this team is at. Their winning record will be ridiculed across all circles in the league.
It hurts any Bears fan's head when they think about where this team could be with a decent offense.
Sure, we all want spectacular, New England Patriots-style offenses, but let's just get an average to above-average offense on the Solder Field turf—most Bears fans would take their chances against anyone in the league with that.
As always it seems, the Bears have been built on a strong defense paired with a lack-luster offense that doesn't inspire much hope for the remainder of the season.
Maybe Sunday gets the ball rolling for an offensive makeover and the Bears look like an actual division leader.
Maybe the Bears play like they did last Sunday against Seattle and are laughed out of the building.
Questions abound for this team, but Sunday we'll get some answers.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!