By Doug Halberstadt
The Chicago Bears have reached the halfway point of their 2009 season. They have four wins and four losses. As optimistic as I was at the beginning of the season, I thought they would be at least 6-2 when they reached this point in the schedule.
I had them winning the season-opener against Green Bay, and I figured them for wins against Cincinnati and Atlanta. The game I thought they’d lose and they managed to win was against Pittsburgh. After watching the first half of the year, I now realize I was giving them way too much credit. They are not that good of a team this year.
Their offensive line has as many holes as an aged block of the finest Swiss cheese money can buy. Their defense doesn’t seem to be able to stop a Pop Warner team. Their supposed savior, Jay Cutler, has thrown more than his share of interceptions. The wide receivers might as well have their photos on milk cartons. The only real bright spots so far in the first eight games is the play of rookie Johnny Knox and the production they are getting out of their tight end Greg Olsen.
The bad news for Bears fans is it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better anytime soon. They play the 49ers Thursday (Nov. 12) in San Francisco. I don’t see them getting a win out there. Then, after a nine-day rest, they face Philadelphia at home. And the following week, it’s up to Minnesota to face the rejuvenated Brett Favre in the dome. That could equate to three more losses and a 0-4 November. Precisely the month that Head Coach Lovie Smith has emphasized as the time they need to be playing their best ball.
They open the month of December against the St. Louis Rams. I would hope the Bears are a better team than the Rams and can at least pull out a home win to start the month off on the right foot. The following week, Green Bay makes their annual trip to Soldier Field. Depending on the weather, that game could go either way. The Bears’ final road game of 2009 is in Baltimore. The Ravens are a very tough team to beat on their home turf.
Minnesota is at Chicago for a nationally-televised Monday night game Dec. 28. The Vikings should have the NFC North division championship clinched by that game. Depending on whether Minnesota decides to play their starters the entire game, or they choose to sideline them in an effort to keep them healthy for the playoffs, could determine the outcome of that division game.
The Bears have one final game, Jan. 3, 2010, in Detroit. I would hope coach Smith will have made a New Year’s resolution that has the words “winning football games” in it.
By my calculations, the Bears will be fortunate to finish this season at, or above, .500. The good thing is there are still eight games remaining and, as they say, “On any given Sunday… .” But, I’m still not going to hold my breath expecting great things during the next eight weeks. I hope they prove me wrong, and I have to end up eating all 543 words in this column.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the November 11-17, 2009 issue