Week 1: Chicago Bears Vs. Indianapolis Colts
- QuarterbackJay Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the NFL and he appears more mature and focused than he has been at any point in his career. His quick release and mobility are big positives.The first game of No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck’s career is not so much a huge event but the first step of a long journey. His intelligence and know-how will give him a big edge as he gets experience, but he will have rough spots along the way.
- OffenseThe big move of the offseason was acquiring big-play wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who gives Cutler a big-play specialist. Running back Matt Forte is a solid runner and receiver, but the Bears still have question on the offensive line.Donald Brown is a solid running back who should be able to take some of the pressure off of Luck. While the Colts are rebuilding, they retained wide receiver Reggie Wayne because he knows how to get open and he will not drop passes he can reach.
- DefenseThe Bears have one of the best all-around defensive lineman in Julius Peppers, who can rarely be blocked by one offensive lineman. Brian Urlacher begins the season with a balky knee, so that means Lance Briggs can’t afford any let down. The Bears have a solid defense, but age is a concern.Chuck Pagano takes over as the Colts’ head coach after a successful run as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator and he will use a 3-4 attack defense that will bear no resemblance to the Colts’ old Cover-2. Robert Mathis must be at his best as a pass rusher for this defense to have a chance.
- Special TeamsThis has been one of the Bears’ biggest edges for years, but punter Adam Podlesh (hip) may not be able to go. Robbie Gould is an accurate kicker and Devin Hester is the most dangerous returner in NFL history. He may not get a lot of play in that area this year.The Colts seem to be well-stocked in all areas of special teams. Placekicker Adam Vinatieri is one of the best ever and punter Pat McAfee averaged 46.6 yards per punt last year. The return games can be explosive.
The Bears have designs on pushing the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title and making a solid run at representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. While they have more big-play options on offense, the offensive line is questionable and the defense is getting older. The Colts will probably be much better in the second half of the season than they will be in the first. The Bears get the victory.