Greetings, Bears fans! Happy to be back!
A lot has happened since I went on hiatus. Some free agency moves have been made, the draft is done, and guess what? I’m officially excited about football again!
Truly, I don’t know how anyone, besides those who thrive on constant negativity (or those aiming to write for the Tribune), could consider this offseason anything short of a huge success for Chicago. The only move Ryan Pace made that I even slightly disagreed with was not matching the Saints offer for Cam Meredith, but honestly letting him walk is small potatoes compared to all the great additions made in 2018.
Of course there’s still the potential for roster moves and shake-ups (and God forbid, serious injuries) between now and the start of the season. Still, we have a much clearer idea of who the Bears are and what they’re going to look like, and damn it if they aren’t looking pretty, pretty good.
I figured I’d put all this unbridled enthusiasm to good use by making my return to DBB to discuss the four games I’m most looking forward to in 2018:
Week 1: Bears @ Packers
This one is a no-brainer. It’s:
- The first game of the season
- Against our biggest rivals
- Mitch’s first time playing in Lambeau
- A game the Bears have a legitimate shot of winning
We all remember what happened last year in Green Bay (as much as we might want to desperately forget), but I’m very much hoping for this game to be a little more reminiscent of the “Brett Favre Night” game of 2015. After all, it’s another big night for the Packers, the first game of their 100th year in existence, and really what better way to spend a Sunday evening than watching the Bears quiet 80,000 cocky Packers fans? The 2018 Bears are not the 2017 Bears, and the 2018 Packers don’t strike the fear in me that they have in years prior. The Bears could absolutely win this, and I’m going to spend the next four months absolutely believing they will.
Week 7: Patriots @ Bears
Because Chicago has an unfortunately early bye-week this year, this will actually only be the sixth game of the season for them. Still the previous five games should give fans a fair indication of how our decently-high expectations are matching reality.
None of the first five teams the Bears face scare me that much given their current rosters. Not saying they’re garbage teams, they just aren’t the Patriots. Now for all we know the Patriots might not even be the Patriots next year. They lost a few key players in free agency, and there always remains the outside possibility that Tom Brady will start to play like an actual person in his 40s instead of an ageless wonder, but they also had a pretty decent draft, and my philosophy has always been to not doubt greatness until it gives you a reason to. So I’m betting on Brady to be as sharp as ever.
This game should be a litmus test to see just how much the Bears have improved, and it’ll be a fun challenge for Tru going toe-to-toe with the GOAT.
Week 14: Rams @ Bears
Many people are hoping the 2018 Bears will be what the 2017 Rams were: A vastly improved, offensive-minded team with a legitimate young quarterback and equally legitimate young, energetic coach. While the comparisons are overly simplistic, it’s easy to see where they come from, and it’ll be interesting to see how the two teams (and in particular the two young QBs) match up against each other.
It’s also no secret that the Rams went ALL FUCKING IN on 2018 with several huge free agent signings, especially on the defensive end. Whether this pays off for them or not remains to be seen, but on paper, this is probably the best team the Bears play all year. That means this game will be another benchmark in the Bears season to gauge just how well Matt Nagy is implementing his new game plan, and how well Trubisky and co. are executing it.
I also fully believe that the Bears will still be relevant in December which should (hopefully) add even more excitement and intensity to this match up.
Week 17: Bears @ Vikings
The last game of the season that actually meant anything to the Chicago Bears was the last game of 2013, and uh, we all know how that went. (It’s best just to never speak about it here or ever again.) 2014 couldn’t have been over soon enough, and while ‘15, ‘16, and ‘17 weren’t quite as painful, fans were all more than ready for them to end.
I don’t plan on feeling this way at the end of 2018’s regular season. In fact I’m cautiously *repeat very cautiously* optimistic that it won’t be the last game the Bears play this season, which is why I’m looking forward to it.
I know a ton of you are probably rolling your eyes right now, thinking I’m just riding the post draft high and preseason hype, and maybe I am, who knows? But when I look at the NFC North as it currently stands right now, I see a fair amount of parity. There isn’t a team that you can say is without a doubt going to be awful in 2018, but there isn’t a clear favorite to lead the pack, either.
If the Bears beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, and also manage to score a couple of big division wins they’re right in the mix come the end of the season. Is it really that insane to think they maybe, possibly, just might have a chance at doing that? I don’t think it is. And since we have an entire summer to get through until any actual football gets played, why not spend that time feeling a little bit of hope?