1. Takeaways & Pressure – The Chicago BEARS last year led the NFL in this department with a total of 44 takeaways. They had 24 picks (Charles Tillman and Ricky Manning Jr. with five a piece) and 20 fumble recoveries (Ogunleye and Ayanbadejo with three), to go along with 40 sacks (Mark Anderson with 12). They will certaintly continue with the takeaways increasing. Also in addition to getting to the quarterback, since Love Smith started roaming the sidelines at Soldier Field for the Black ‘n’ Blue, the opponent passer rating allowed has been an NFL-best 68.4%. On the defensive line they add sack artist Mark Anderson to the starting equation, drafted pass rushing specialist Dan Bauzin, stout run defender Anthony Adams, injured Dusty Dvorachek, and most importantly a healthy, returning anchor in Tommie Harris. They add speed with 3rd round draft pick Mike Owko and they get back instinctive Jamar Williams to an already solid linebacking unit. In the secondary they add strong hitting safety Adam Archuleta, versatile Kevin Payne, drafted cover corner Corey Graham, and #30, playmaking Bear Pro-Bowler Mike Brown (career leader in defensive touchdowns for the Bears.)
This new/returning group already adds to a list of standouts itself: Brian Urlacher (141 tackles and 3 ints), Lance Briggs (when he decides to play), Charles Tillman (80 tackles, 5 ints, and a defensive TD), Nate Vasher (3 ints), Ricky Manning Jr. (5 picks and a run back to the house) Adewale Ogunleye (6 1/2 sacks), Alex Brown (7 sacks), and Danieal Manning ( 67 tackles and 2 ints)
2. SPECIAL Teams – With the Windy City Flyer #23 Devin Hester leading the way (7 Return Touchdowns), K Robbie Gould (Pro-Bowler and GW FG against Seattle in Playoffs), and P Brad Maynard (44.2 avg. with 24 inside the 20), this forms the top NFL Special Teams squad. You also have to include wrecking ball LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (Pro-Bowler) and RB Adrian Peterson to the mix also. This coverage team led by Ayanbadejo, is one of the best too. This group is only going to get better with each player in their prime. This year’s ST’s unit will include speedy Garrett Wolfe, to return kicks, if they kick it away from Hester.
3. The Chicago Bears can score in a variety of ways: Whether it be Devin Hester’s once-again, dazzling return for a TD on Special Teams or a score on offense at WR or RB (offense this year!), a defensive touchdown on fumble recovery (Charles Tillman or Mike Brown), interception run back for TD (Ricky Manning Jr. or Nate Vasher), a long field goal by Robbie Gould, a bruising run up the middle by Cedric Benson, or a touchdown via the long ball by Rex Grossman to Bernard Berrian, or even a short pass for a score in the redzone to Moose or rookie TE Greg Olsen, the Bears can hurt you in many different ways. They were second in the NFL with 26.7 points a game last season, and they led the entire NFL with a total of 201 possessions on offense.
4. Close Games – When the game is on the line, the Bears come away with a victory. The Bears have not lost a close game since Week 12 in Foxboro against the Patriots. The Bears have been excellent in games decided by a touchdown or less. They have lost only two of those games in the last two years combined (@ Washington Week 1 in 2005 and vs. NE in ’06.) They won four of them in 2006 and six in 2005. With the strong Bears rushing attacking featuring Cedric Benson near the goaline and in between the tackles and the tough to score on Bears redzone Defense in late games, this makes this team close to unbeatable in crunch time. Their lines give them good stability, depth, and productivity.
5. “Unfinished Business” (Motto/Attitude) this year for the Bears – Last season ended on a rainy nite in Miami, FL. Bears lost SB XLI 29-17 to Indy. This year the team is hungry to get back to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, this time, hoisting the Lombardi trophy as NFL Champions. Since Lovie Smith has became head coach the Bears have improved every year and reached his sought after “team goals,” started when he first arrived at a press conference, after being named Head Coach of the Chicago Bears. Year 1: 5-11 (Beat G.B.) First team goal checked off the list of three. Year 2: 11-5 (Win the Division) Second team goal checked off the list of three. Years 3: 13-3 (Get to the Super Bowl) Third team goal checked off the list of three. Year 4 … ? Super Bowl Victory for the Chicago Bears! Being motivated to finish business, where they left off last year, will be a reachable goal for these NFC Champion Chicago Bears. They are ready to be crowned the best team in the NFL because they are the most balanced and determined – with all three phases: Offense (28 points a game), Defense ( 44 takeaways, 40 sacks, and allowed under 15 points a game), and Special Teams ( Devin Hester’s 7 TD’s and Gould’s clutch kicking). The coaching staff led by Lovie Smith is ready and the Bears will have to earn it, proving they want it more than all of the other 31 NFL teams. Do they have what it takes to reach the top and to be called: Champions of the National Football League?