The Bears uber alles: The Bears will win it all. They will ambush the Rams for the NFC crown, then humiliate Pittsburgh in New Orleans. This is the wisdom I get from Michael, my man on the Football channel. He speaks to me through the ocean and the ether, if I've been a Good boy -- and on the numbers he ranks with Nostradamus. I am a profoundly Spiritual person, on some days, and chickens squawk in egg barns all over the country when I'm winning. [...] The reason I have picked Chicago is that I hope my endorsement will Jinx them, as it has with the 49ers. That is the Fan in me talking, the geek who believes in Voodoo.
You know, I love me some Bears. But a Bears Super Bowl? SO not happening. Overachieving can only get you so far.
People talk about the Bears' fantastic defense -- 15th in total defensive yards yielded is that fantastic? Granted, it does come with a nifty #2 rushing defense and a zippy #1 points defense overall. It also comes with a #29 passing defense which is not quite spectacular. (OK, I'll bite. How in HELL do you have the #1 points defense and the #29 passing defense on the same team? Granted that good teams tend to be weaker on pass defense, because strong rushing defense and late leads force opposing teams to pass. But a pass defense that bad normally yields big garbanzo points.)
The killer, I suspect, is going to be the #16 offense. (#24 passing, #16 rushing ... but then also #1 in fewest sacks yielded. Kurt Warner pretty much deserved that MVP; he not only passed for more than 4,000 yards but got pounded in doing so. But I digress.) It's both inconsistent and not terribly strong, and they haven't run up against a really high powered offense this season.
That said ... people have been saying that the Bears had a 5th place schedule, which made this transition easier. The 5th place schedule got them San Francisco, Atlanta, Arizona and Washington. Only the "A" teams were, and were expected to be, pushovers; Washington was either wildly good or wildly bad this year, and the 49ers won 12 games. It's not clear that the strength of schedule made lots of difference. Next season, those slots will be St Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. The NFL's new scheduling formula has a team play the four teams from another division within its conference (NFC) on a rotating three-year cycle, as well as two intra-conference games based on the prior year's standings (two games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two NFC divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season; thus St Louis and Philadelphia as well as the NFC South teams. (By the way, how does Indianapolis wind up in the AFC South and Baltimore in the AFC North, for heaven's sake? I thought the new divisions were supposed to be more geographically based. And why couldn't the NFC Central have kept its name and not been changed to the North; after all, with those teams, it is the old black-and-blue Central division ... um. But I digress. A lot.)Posted by iain at January 10, 2002 04:43 PM