In 2001, the Bears emerged to win 13 games before getting exposed in the playoffs by an incredible offensive player (McNabb). They're defense dominated to cover up their poor offense, and every break went their way.
In 2002, they won 4 games.
In 2005, the Bears emerged to win 11 games before getting exposed in the playoffs by an incredible offensive player (Steve Smith). They're defense dominated to cover up their poor offense, and every break went their way.
Why will 2006 be like 2002 for the Bears?
Simple. They are terrible offensively, and any injuries on defense could turn them from a contending football team to a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE football team.
They're not built like a good football team should be. Should a team be able to go from good to TERRIBLE based on one injury to a middle linebacker, or one or two members of the secondary? Probably not. A real good contender will be built to withstand injuries (with the possible exception of quarterback).
IF a player like Urlacher gets injured (not a big "if"), they're doomed. If multiple players get injured on defense, they're a team that loses games 27-10. Without any functioning offense, any bad break, or any bad bounce, or any lack of luck, will destroy them. They have absolutely ZERO ability to play from behind. They have no quarterback capable of a two-minute drill.
The Bears will win 7 or less games in 2006. The Vikings just need to get to win #9 to win the division and get a home playoff game.
(Then again, when my young quarterbacks were struggling on Madden, I signed a 34 year old Brian Griese who suddenly turned my passing game potent. So who knows).
ADDENDUM: From 1995-2005, the Bears only made the playoffs when they had the #1 scoring defense (2001 and 2005). In that time, they've ranked #24 or lower in points scored 9 times. Basically, I feel for the Bears to win the division, they MUST have the #1 defense in the league. That's a lot of pressure and a lot can go wrong for it to be a necessity to be the best defense in the league in order to make the playoffs.
Also, does the fact that the Bears are more likely to compete to win the division than the Packers mean that this Sunday I have to...gulp...root for the Packers? Can I just root for a tie in which Favre throws 10 interceptions?
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