I’m continuing my division-by-division predictions of the 2011 season with the NFC North. I’m a Detroit Lions fan and, while I expect big things this season, I will keep my predictions for them realistic. Also, check out my predictions for the AFC West, AFC South, NFC West and NFC South if you missed them earlier.
But on to the NFC North. I love playing the “what-if” game and today we are going to play it with the Chicago Bears. In the very first week of last season, the Bears defeated the Detroit Lions after a game-winning Calvin Johnson touchdown catch was overturned. The play was controversial and many believe the officials got the call wrong when they overturned it. So I am proposing the following “what-if” question: What if the play was called a touchdown and the Lions won? It was a week one game and the Bears went on to win the division. They also secured a first round bye in the playoffs with the second best record in the NFC. Well, had they lost that game, the Bears would have missed the playoffs.
If they lost that game to the Lions, the Bears would have finished 10-6, tied with the Packers atop the division. Due to the “best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference” tiebreaker, the Packers would have won the division. That would have left the Bears tied with the Giants and Buccaneers for the last wildcard spot. Both of them had a better win percentage in games played within the conference, meaning the Bears would be out. The Giants would have taken their place in the playoffs as they had a better win percentage in common games with the Buccaneers. At this point, you are probably wondering what this has to do with this season. Well, my point is that the Bears aren’t as good as they seem. Sure, they were one win away from being in the Super Bowl, but they were also one loss away from not even making the playoffs.
I’ve written in the past about how much I dislike Jay Cutler and how I think Mike Martz is a terrible offensive coordinator. Last year was a fluke and the Bears will not be in the playoffs again this season. The Packers are going into this season healthy and will win the division, finishing 12-4. The Detroit Lions will improve on last season and surprise many by finishing 10-6, just missing the playoffs. The Chicago Bears? Well, they’ll play like I expect them to play and finish 8-8 and Donovan McNabb will lead the Vikings to a 6-10 season.