2011 Chicago Bears: A Game-by-Game Preview of the Season
The Chicago Bears are about to kick off their 2011 campaign.
They are poised to make another run at the division title and have the potential to be a formidable opponent for many teams this season.
Jay Cutler looks to lead this Bears team, complete with new faces, toward a title.
Can they clear the hurdles that have kept them from their desired success in 2011?
Here is a game-by-game preview of the Chicago Bears and how they may play out.
Game 1: Atlanta Falcons
What a game to start off the season!
Atlanta takes on the Bears in what could prove to be an interesting matchup.
Considering this is the first game of the season it will be interesting to watch both teams' performances as neither team has captured their respective form yet.
Atlanta will deploy Michael Turner early to try and establish the running game and allow Matt Ryan to find rookie Julio Jones, as I expect heavy coverage on Roddy White.
The Bears will counter with their own running game, which should bear most of the workload in this game as the receivers need to find consistency.
Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett need to step up, as Roy Williams looks very average and has not had a great preseason, and Devin Hester can be inconsistent.
Overall the Bears' defense should keep Matt Ryan from having a big game and keep this game close, but I tend to lean to Atlanta.
Bears 20 - Falcons 27
Game 2: New Orleans Saints
Another big challenge coming off of the Atlanta game, the Bears travel to New Orleans to face the Saints.
Areas of concern for this game for the Bears are going to be strictly on offense, as the Saints defense may rattle Jay Cutler as he tries to force passes to his wide receivers.
Matt Forte and Marion Barber can combine for respectable yardage, but this game, this early, spells trouble for Chicago.
The Saints' rookie RB Mark Ingram will not be able to get things going against the Bears defense, forcing Drew Brees to beat them through the air.
Bears 13 - Saints 24
Game 3: Green Bay Packers
The defending Super Bowl Champions host the Chicago Bears in week 3.
This game will be the third consecutive game in which the Bears will be facing a playoff-caliber team.
The Packers will score points, but not as much as they are capable of due to issues that could cause problems for them at times, namely the offensive line.
I don't think the Packers will be effective running the ball against the Bears in this game, and will look to compensate by attempting screen passes or short passes to wide receivers to make up for the lack of a ground game.
On the other side of the ball, the Bears should be able to run effectively against a Green Bay line that doesn't have a great run defense in the front 3.
The Packers will have to bring more pressure from the linebackers, which will allow Cutler to utilize the play action fake and chew up yardage through the air.
Bears 23 - Packers 17
Game 4: Carolina Panthers
The Bears will handle the Carolina Panthers without much of a challenge in this game.
With an unproven quarterback in Cam Newton, the Panthers shouldn't be able to establish much through the air, as their lack of depth outside of Steve Smith will keep the young passer at bay.
The Carolina rushing attack will have to carry the workload and the Bears defense will stuff the box.
Bears win this one easily.
Bears 31 - Panthers 13
Game 5: Detroit Lions
The Bears face off against the up-and-coming Detroit Lions in Week 5.
The Detroit offense is a capable set who will make this game close as the Lions will have the ability to score against the Bears.
Calvin Johnson will see double coverage most of the downs, and Nate Burleson should be able to make plays, but nothing considerable as he is set for an 80-yard day.
The Bears cornerbacks will be challenged but can win these battles with press coverage.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bears must manage the clock well and Jay Cutler needs to make smart decisions against this Lions defense to avoid giving them opportunities through interceptions.
The Bears offensive line must protect Cutler and keep him from taking too many sacks.
Look for shotgun formation to be used often in this situation.
Bears win this game in a close one.
Bears 17 - Lions 14
Game 6: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings should be an up-and-down team this season, as they lack a solid pairing of receivers that limits their chances with each possession.
Donovan McNabb may have to carry this team with what mobility he has left and move around in the pocket to extend plays for Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian. Peterson will have his average day.
The Bears' keys to the game include the ability to pressure McNabb into poor throws and to exploit their weaknesses in the secondary, namely the safety positions.
The Bears MVP of this game should be Devin Hester.
Bears 26 - Vikings 18
Game 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are capable of beating the Bears, but it depends on which Bucs team shows up.
Look for Tampa Bay to try and use the clock with long drives and a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount to wear down the defense before they attempt to beat Chicago in the air.
The Bucs defense is improving, but I don't see anything spectacular happening in this game for them as I look to see Johnny Knox catch seven passes for 120 yards and a score against them.
Bears on a roll.
Bears 29 - Bucs 17
Game 8: Philadelphia Eagles
Coming off of their bye, the Bears visit Philadelphia for what should be a preview of a playoff matchup.
The Eagles are a dangerous team with the capability of putting up decent numbers.
The Eagles will let Michael Vick air it out as the Eagles have a respectable duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
The defense will challenge the Bears often and take risks and will force Cutler to turn the ball over.
The Eagles steal this one from a rested Chicago.
Bears 13 - Eagles 23
Game 9: Detroit Lions
This game is very simple.
By this time in the season both defenses will be clicking and this has the potential to be a long day at the office.
The Bears should capitalize on Matthew Stafford's errors.
I look for the Bears to sack Stafford three times.
Jay Cutler throws for 245 yards but the Bears drop a close one and split the series with the Lions.
Bears 13 - Lions 16
Game 10: San Diego Chargers
The Bears will attack the Chargers on the second level by throwing to the tight ends and find success in doing so.
An effective but limited ground game will find room to score for the Bears, but will not have success initially. Things open up in this game for the running backs after the second quarter when the Chargers start to fade.
The Chargers will rely on heavy doses of Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, who will be able to pick apart enough routes to force the Bears into certain packages and open up opportunities for Ryan Matthews.
This is a tough game for the Bears.
Bears 18 - Chargers 27
Game 11: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders welcome the Bears to California in week 12.
I don't expect much of a challenge here from the Oakland offense as Jason Campbell does not have receivers good enough to burn the Chicago defense.
The Raiders will rely solely on Darren McFadden, who will meet a wall of resistance in the Bears defensive front four.
Jay Cutler has a three-touchdown day.
Bears 35 - Raiders 14
Game 12: Kansas City Chiefs
The Bears must contain Dwayne Bowe if they expect to win this game, and despite him being the only legitimate receiver in Kansas City, it is easier said then done.
I don't expect Matt Cassel to do much, as he will probably end up going 14-20 for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Kansas City defense is overrated and should allow a decent amount of points for the Bears.
Matt Forte has an easy time running the ball for the Bears in this game.
Bears 28 - Chiefs 17
Game 13: Denver Broncos
The Broncos bring their team to Chicago with the hopes of stealing a game from the Bears.
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and teammate Eddie Royal combine for 150 receiving yards and a couple of scores.
Expect Knowshon Moreno to be average with any rushing touchdowns coming from Willis McGahee.
The Bears keep it close, and win by a field goal in this one.
Bears 24 - Denver 21
Game 14: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle plays the Bears in a game where the key to victory is all about the takeaways.
Seattle should be a sub-par team by this point and may have even inserted Charlie Whitehurst in place of the ineffective Tarvaris Jackson.
In either case, the Seattle QBs offer the Bears' defense plenty of opportunities to take the ball away as this game gets ugly early.
Bears should dominate this game.
Bears 31 - Seahawks 14
Game 15: Green Bay Packers
This game should prove again why this is the best rivalry in the NFL.
The Packers should be clicking on all cylinders and have ironed out issues with the offensive line by now.
Playing at home, the Packers will probably give the Bears a healthy dosage of Jermichael Finley which will take coverage off of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, letting them roam free.
I don't see the Bears taking two against the Packers, especially one at Lambeau Field.
Bears 13 - Packers 24
Game 16: Minnesota Vikings
The last game of the season is either going to be important or a game to prepare for the playoffs.
At this time in the year, I think the Minnesota Vikings would be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and would simply be just finishing the season.
A good opportunity for the Bears' running game to dictate the pace of the game, which it will.
Bears 21 - Minnesota 9
Season Recap: 2011 Chicago Bears
The Bears season will have its ups and downs, but overall the Chicago Bears should show the NFL again that they are a team that will remain relevant and in contention for a championship.
The 2011 Chicago Bears will have tight games and will have to consistently work on improving several areas of their team throughout the season, but shouldn't have too much hardship in doing so.
Overall, I see the Bears finishing at 10-6 in 2011 and making the playoffs.
Where they go from there is anyone's guess, but I can say that they have the potential to go far.