The Chicago Bears are coming off a very successful campaign in 2010 and they have the tools and skills to repeat that performance in 2011.
In order to get back to the playoffs, they have to survive the gauntlet, which is the first three games of their schedule.
The Bears open up the season hosting the Atlanta Falcons; then they head south to the Superdome to face Drew Brees and the Saints. The final leg of this daunting opening schedule is a rematch of the 2011 NFC Championship Game in Chicago against the Green Bay Packers.
On paper, the Bears have a relatively easy schedule, with their opponents winning just 48.8 percent of their games in 2010.
This number is deceiving. The Panthers terrible record alone skewed these stats. They also face teams that had down season in 2010, or others such as the Chargers and Lions, who will be much better this year.
The fact is the Bears have a very difficult season in 2011. If they are able to win their big games, and take care of business against the NFL scrubs, a playoff run will be inevitable.