While scanning the Chicago Bears Web site in anticipation of the upcoming summer camp I stumbled across Larry Mayer’s Chalk Talk. It is basically a Q&A section where fans can shoot questions to Bears expert Larry Mayer. Some of the questions are pretty softball and some are just silly but the first one in his list of questions caught my eye immediately. Fox Sports ranks the Bears 20th in pre-season poll. WTF! I had to check this out.
Writer Adrian Hasenmayer ranked the Chicago Bears 20th in the league after a 9-7 season and one of the best off-seasons in recent memory. Even a novice football fan can realize an average football team with an amazing off-season usually translates into more wins, not less.
He ranked Atlanta #4. Atlanta who will have a great offense and absolutely no defense. The Cardinals are #5 and while I think they are probably good enough to be in the top 10 they did lose some personnel and have a 39 year old QB. The Colts at #10 is pretty laughable considering they lost more depth in the off-season and head football coach Tony Dungy. Not too mention P.Manning isn’t happy and that usually isn’t a good thing.
The 6-10 Packers are ranked #14. Now while I thought their off-season was OK they really don’t impress me at all. They have a new defensive coordinator and a whole new scheme. There will be growing pains.
The Bills are #15 and Saints are #16 and while that probably is pretty accurate their is no way those two teams are better than the Chicago Bears.
Now I don’t expect the Bears would be in the Top 5 but somewhere between 6-10 would be appropriate. I mean they did acquire a Pro-Bowl QB in Jay Cutler and improve the offensive line. They also signed several players to add depth to a defense that suffered injuries last season. If they had acquired a top WR I probably would have put them in the Top 5. They still have time to do that. Overall they are a very good team with a very weak schedule. 11 to 12 wins is a very realistic goal for them.
Here is BPD’s more REALISTIC Power Ranking.
1 – NEW ENGLAND – The Brady Moss show is back and action and their defense is loaded.
2 – PITTSBURGH – The Steelers didn’t get any better in the off-season but they didn’t get any worse. They had O-Line depth issues and addressed it in the off-season.
3 – TENNESSEE – The receiving corps was weak so they drafted Kenny Britt and signed free agent Nate Washington. They lost DT Haynesworth and drafted Sen’Derrick Marks and signed Jovan Haye. Solid team all around.
4 – PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles look tough with a stud WR corps in place. The defense looks like one of the best in the league and Donovan McNabb is happy. This team should do very well.
5 – NEW YORK (NFC) – The Giants have a very talented and very deep offense. The offense had struggles last season but they have the talent and leadership to re-group. They also had a great draft to add depth to the offense. They will contend.
6 – MIAMI – Fox Sports picks them #19 and that is crazy. This team won 11 games last season and added weapon Pat White to the Wildcat Offense. They improved the offensive line and defensive backfield. Wildcard team.
7 – CHICAGO – Fox Sports again drops the ball with a #20 ranking. The Bears added a pro-bowl QB and left tackle. They also added depth on the O-Line, D-Line, linebacking corp and defensive backfield. The only weakness may be the WR’s inexperience. They should win 11 to 12 and their division.
8 – ATLANTA – I love the Falcons offense. It should be one of the most entertaining in the NFL. They did take some hits to the defense in the off-season and haven’t adequately replaced their losses.
9 – CAROLINA – The Panthers had a nice off-season and should run neck and neck with Atlanta all year. They should have a dominate run game again and with Peppers back in for another year one of the better pass rushes in the game.
10 – ARIZONA – The Cardinals are a good team but they had some issues in the off-season. Boldin still isn’t happy and they lost their offensive coordinator. They also have a 39 year old QB. His health is the difference between 10-6 or 6-10.
11 – BALTIMORE – Harbaugh has his work cut out for him after the loss of Bart Scott and his defensive coordinator. They do have enough depth on the defensive side of the ball to remain one of the better groups in the league. Flacco is for real but does he have enough weapons?
12 – MINNESOTA – This is really a Favre question isn’t it. A healthy Favre plays and they probably win 10 to 11 games and push Chicago for the Division title. He dosn’t play and they go with the Jackson and Rosenfels than they are probably a 9 win group pushing for that final Wildcard spot.
13 – SAN DIEGO – The Chargers could be a little better #13 depending on their health but they play in a weak division. They should win 9 games easily and that should be good enough to get into the playoffs.
14 – DALLAS – The Cowboys have removed their cancerous growths and this could be good for them. They do seem to lack depth at some key positions and happen to play in the best division in the NFL. They may not be able to break .500. Can you say Shanahan in 2010?
15 – NEW YORK (AFC) – The Jets are going to be fun to watch under new coach Rex Ryan. They will have to endure the rookie QB growing pains most teams go through but I look for them to start slow and pick up steam at the end of the season. Wildcard longshot.
16 – WASHINGTON – In any other division Washington would be 2nd best and have a shot at the Wildcard. In the NFC East they are a .500 record doormat. If they stick with Zorn I do like their future.
17 – INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning can’t do it all and this should be a challenging season for him. He will still put up decent numbers with Wayne and Clark but the rest of the team is very average looking.
18 – SAN FRANSISCO – The 49ers are improving under Mike Singletary. They have an arsenal of WRs for Shaun Hill to throw too. Gore’s health is very important to the success of this team. 7 or 8 wins should be the max but if Arizona falters an 8 win division title is possible.
19 – HOUSTON – I really wanted to put this team higher but QB Matt Schaub has not proven he can stay healthy. If he misses time again the next QB is Rex Grossman and I think that says it all. Their defense is good but proved to be inconsistent last year. Will that continue?
20 – GREEN BAY – Now this is the team that belongs #20, not the Bears. Aaron Rodgers is a good QB but not great. He doesn’t have a strong running game behind him despite his arsenal of receivers. The defense is a work in project. While they’ll improve later in the season the first 5 or 6 games could be rough.
21 – JACKSONVILLE – I look for Garrard to bounce back and have a better season. RB Mo Jones Drew is the main guy now and should be a top back in the AFC. They also improved their WR situation purging off the field headache Matt Jones and adding Tory Holt and Troy Williamson. Defensively they should continue to struggle against the pass.
22 – NEW ORLEANS – I was destroyed by some Saint faithful last year for suggesting they were a .500 team with no defense or running game. Ooops, I was right. However they are probably in the same boat again this season. Thomas and Bush will be carrying the running load and I am not sure that’s good enough. The defense, while better, is still weak against the pass. Look for Brees to throw…a lot.
23 – TAMPA BAY – New coach, similar philosophy and a team full of 2nd string QBs. It doesn’t sound good to me either. The defense should be adequate but the offense doesn’t look good to me at all. Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans are much better than they are. Long season for Tampa.
24 – DENVER – The Broncos ownership thought they were stepping in the right direction when all they did was step in a big, smelly pile of McDaniel. Cutler is gone and Orton is in. Their stud WR and TE both want out. The defense was terrible last season and won’t be much better this year. They get to 6 wins only because Oakland and Kansas City are worse than they are.
25 – BUFFALO – I look for Buffalo to take a tumber for three reasons. The first is that is what happened to the Dick Jauron Bears. The second is they are not better than New England, NY or Miami. The third is Terrell Owens is going to end up being a pain in the ass and cause problems with their young QB.
26 – KANSAS CITY – They aren’t a good team but I like their upside. I like their coach and draft too. I am not sure about paying Cassell all that money though. That was a huge risk and I am a fan of Thigpen. But Cassell will probably do well long term.
27 – CINCINNATI – Ocho Cinco says playoffs for Cincy but I don’t see it. The defense doesn’t look very good and the RB situation is kind of a mess. On the upside Carson Palmer is healthy behind a better line. The downside is he is missing T.J. They’ll struggle.
28 – CLEVELAND – Mangenius should be able to restore the pride to the ‘Dog Pound’ but not this season. This team looks like a mis-matched quilt pattern. Eventually the pieces will come together although that future may not include Quinn or Anderson.
29 – SEATTLE – Mora is the new coach and simply doesn’t have his guys yet. There are a lot of old timers left from the previous coach. The addition of TJ Houshmanzadeh was a key building block. The running game probably won’t be too great and the defense looks to be inconsistent.
30 – OAKLAND – I don’t get it. It has been years since Oakland was good. Not even great, I am talking good. The ownership has destroyed the team, they lack effective leadership and passing up on Crabtree for Bey was idiotic. They will struggle and win only 3 or 4 games again.
31 – ST. LOUIS – The owner wants the team back in L.A. The coach is competitive and wants to win now. I am not sure how long this marriage will last. Bulger is old and his best days are behind him. Although they are rebuilding this team on the lines they have quite a ways to go.
32 – DETROIT – They suck. They should break the winless drought and maybe win twice. They had a nice draft but they are terrible at every position. The ‘Restore the Roar’ project is a 5 year project at least.