NFL Midseason Report: Chicago Bears
This week officially marks the midpoint of the NFL season.
In midseason fashion, I will be presenting a review for every team in the league, starting with the NFC this week and concluding with the AFC after Week 9.
Some teams have their destinies sealed already, both good and bad. It's now time in the season to look back at how each team has performed and predict how it will perform in the coming weeks.
Let's take a look at the Chicago Bears, one of the NFL's most historical franchises.
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Although it may hurt as a football fan to say this, the Chicago Bears defense just ain't what it used to be.
Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and the rest of the D are aging but still very effective.
It's the pass unit that has been bothersome in the Windy City.
Major Wright, Chris Conte and Brandon Meriweather must improve if the Bears want to be considered legitimate playoff contenders.
Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije anchor a fierce defensive line that has totaled 15 sacks this season.
On the offensive side of things, Matt Forte basically runs the show. He is on pace for more than 2,500 yards combined (rushing and receiving) during his contract year.
Devin Hester continues to impress when returning (even breaking the all-time return touchdown record this season) but fails as a No. 1 receiver.
It's time for the Bears to look at another veteran for the one spot, because Hester and Roy Williams aren't doing the job. Perhaps Terrell Owens could be given a call?
I am impressed by Jay Cutler's improved precision this season. Last year, he aimlessly tossed picks at will, but in 2011 he has one of the league's lowest interception total at six.
Will "good" translate into "great" come December and January?
MVP: Matt Forte, RB
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Matt Forte's selection as midseason team MVP was like declaring Michael Jordan the best player in basketball history in that it was both easy and safe at the same time.
Forte's on his way to the Bears' record books at this point in 2011, rushing for 672 yards and receiving another 419 in only seven games.
He's practically a mortal lock for the Pro Bowl, and he is the key to the Bears' postseason door.
The thing about Matt Forte that impresses me the most is his ability to hit the holes and juke all opposing defenders.
It's now time to include him among the league's best backs, a short list that includes Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and—well, then it gets tough to try to top the Tulane product.
The point is that Forte's development coupled with his amazing numbers lead to him being selected team MVP.
Now pay the man, Chicago!
What Needs Improvement
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See the picture?
That's Vikings rookie tight end (and Notre Dame alum) Kyle Rudolph attempting to catch the pigskin over Bears safety Major Wright.
Not surprisingly, Rudolph reeled in the catch for a first down. It's something Wright and the rest of the corners and safeties have grown accustomed to in 2011.
If the linebackers and the D-line are Katy Perry, then the defensive backs are Betty White.
Even if the rush D is still stellar, the passing unit cannot be ignored. They give up 272 passing yards per game, less than only four teams in the National Football League.
Rod Marinelli needs to do something about this.
The fact of the matter is that Wright, Brandon Meriweather and the others need to step up their game in the coming weeks when they face Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers in three consecutive weeks.
Shockingly, Jay Cutler's control isn't the No. 1 problem for the Bears offense. It's the offensive line. Cutler has been sacked 21 times this season, a true testimony to the Division II-esque line.
It's not just one big guy, either. The unit as a whole isn't very good.
Please don't hurt me, Chicago.
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Week 9- at Philadelphia Eagles- Loss
Week 10- vs. Detroit Lions- Win
Week 11- vs. San Diego Chargers- Win
Week 12- at Oakland Raiders- Loss
Week 13- vs. Kansas City Chiefs- Win
Week 14- at Denver Broncos- Win
Week 15- vs. Seattle Seahawks- Win
Week 16- at Green Bay Packers- Loss
Week 17- at Minnesota Vikings- Win
Predicted record: 10-6, T-2nd NFC North (Wild Card)