This isn’t exactly a historic day, but as some of you know, I have done game previews for absolutely no reason at all since 2010. These previews were typed up along the course of the week leading up to the game and then sent out via text message to anyone who cared to read, and eventually, a few people wanted them every game. It never got big or anything, but I eventually felt confident enough that I looked around to where I could do this publicly. I was fortunate enough for Roy to listen to my request, a request first started among friends. So, this is the first time “The Forecast” is being released to anyone who cares to read.
It seems like this is becoming an every-offseason deal, but the Bears once again made a lot of noise this summer.
Free Agent additions: LB James Anderson, TE Martellus Bennett, T Eben Britton, T Jermon Bushrod, TE Steve Maneri, G Matt Slauson, LB D.J. Williams.
Draft: LB Jon Bostic, LB Khaseem Greene, G Kyle Long, T Jordan Mills, DE Cornelius Washington, WR Marquess Wilson
Free Agent Losses: QB Jason Campbell, TE Kellen Davis (hallelujah), LB Geno Hayes, DE Israel Idonije, G Lance Louis, CB D.J. Moore, LB Nick Roach, TE Matt Spaeth, G Chris Spencer, DT Matt Toeaina, LB Brian Urlacher
The move that everyone was talking about, however, was not retaining Brian Urlacher. Because of this, Urlacher finally realized that it was time to pack it in. Phil Emery didn’t exactly make friends within the locker room with this move, but Jon Bostic’s potential is through the roof and nobody else cared to offer Urlacher what he considered a good deal. Regardless, Urlacher will always be loved by Chicago and rightfully so. He was a great player.
The Bengals had a quiet offseason. They added very little in free agency yet lost Manny Lawson, who had a solid year for them in 2012. As a matter of fact, their replacement for Lawson is former Steeler and longtime asshat James Harrison. The acquisition of Harrison looks good on paper, but he’s never played in a 4-3 scheme and his body as well as his ability is declining, missing 8 games in the past 2 years and putting little pressure on the quarterback in both seasons. Their main acquisitions came via the draft, where they took Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard with their first two picks, respectively. This was in an attempt to help Andy Dalton get over his playoff troubles (0 touchdowns and 5 turnovers in 2 career games). Eifert can be Dalton’s intermediate target to help A.J. Green get some one-on-one coverage. Second year receiver Mohamed Sanu can help with that as well. The former Rutgers standout had a confusing 2012 as 25 percent of his catches went for touchdowns. Obviously, that is skewed due to only catching 16 total passes. He will need accumulate more receptions this season to really help Green and Dalton.
Cincinnati is a scary team. They firmly believe that they are Super Bowl contenders. They have multiple good players everywhere, and they may have the best coaching staff in football.
College Football Recap
Texas A&M continues to win, but I can’t imagine that Kevin Sumlin feels very confident. They’ve soundly beaten Sam Houston State and Rice, but their defense has been getting annihilated. It doesn’t get much easier in 6 days when they host Alabama. Unless Johnny Manziel has an unbelievably great game, it’s going to be tough for the Aggies.
Notre Dame is going to have a challenge getting back to a BCS game. That might be best for college football fans, because they were hilariously obliterated by Alabama last year in one. Seriously though, their defense isn’t what it was last year and Tommy Rees is awful. Speaking of that, did anyone see that awesome Eminem interview at halftime? He talked gambling with Brent Musburger and pretty much told Kirk Herbstreit that he stinks at his job. That whole thing made me so uncomfortable. Good stuff.
Teddy Bridgewater, two weeks in, has to be the favorite for the Heisman trophy. He is going to continue to throw all over teams in a weak conference. Through two games, he has completed 77 percent of his passes and has thrown for 9 touchdowns. With Jadeveon Clowney struggling so far, Bridgewater is also the favorite to be picked number one in the draft.
The Bears always seem to luck out with the weather in opening games. This year, it will be no different. It looks like clear skies with temperatures in the mid-70’s with 12-15 mph wind.
Did you know?
Did you know that Andy Dalton’s career record against teams who didn’t make the playoffs is 17-4, but it’s just 1-11 against teams who did go on to make the playoffs?
As I posted on twitter the other day, my Super Bowl prediction for this year is Atlanta against Denver, with Atlanta beating Dallas in the NFC and Denver beating Indianapolis in the AFC. I like Panthers DT Star Lotulelei to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, Bengals RB Giovani Bernard to win it offensively, Matt Ryan to win the MVP award, and Ndamukong Suh to put his douchebaggery aside and win the Defensive Player of the Year.
Today, I like New Orleans to clip Atlanta, Pittsburgh to smash Tennessee, Indianapolis to pound Oakland, Kansas City to topple the Jaguars, and in an upset, the Jets to beat the Buccaneers.
Players to Watch
George Iloka- George Iloka, in case you’ve never heard of him which you probably have not, is Cincinnati’s starting strong safety. He’s a second year player out of Boise State and was selected in the 5th round last year. This is the position of the Bengals, along with their linebackers, that is their biggest weakness. Iloka has no experience whatsoever. Behind him, they have Taylor Mays, former USC weight lifting champion and Shawn Williams, 2013 third round pick out of Georgia. Without a doubt, Marc Trestman has to realize that they can exploit Iloka, and with the exception of Leon Hall, the rest of Cincinnati’s secondary.
Rey Maualuga- Somehow, Rey Maualuga was retained by the Bengals this offseason. Arguably the worst starting linebacker in the league, Maualuga was given a solid contract for some unknown reason. On top of it, Vontaze Burfict is the future at linebacker in southern Ohio, yet he is being forced to stay outside while Maualuga continues to be anemic in the middle. Like Iloka, Maualuga is a player that Chicago can easily exploit both in the running and passing game.
Jordan Mills- Jordan Mills may as well be the key for the Bears’ offense this whole year, but he must play especially well today. The Bengals’ defensive line is absolutely loaded. Geno Atkins is the best defensive tackle in football, and their other defensive tackle, Demata Peko, is good as well. Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, however, will be the two ends that Mills will have to go against. Johnson recorded 11.5 sacks last year and Dunlap had 6, which may seem underwhelming but he didn’t play very much and missed a few games. They also drafted Margus Hunt who has amazing raw ability. Mills was one of my favorite Bears’ picks this year and has shown promise, but nobody can say that they thought he would be starting in week one. This isn’t San Diego, who will be lucky to win six games this year. This definitely isn’t Carolina, a team with little depth on their defensive line. And, this sure as hell isn’t Oakland, a team who probably couldn’t win the Arena Bowl.
This game is a toss-up. The Bengals have skill everywhere- Dalton, Green, Bernard, Burfict, Hall, Atkins, Johnson, Dunlap, Peko, and Eifert. The Bears do as well- Cutler, Forte, Marshall, Bennett, Jeffery, Peppers, Melton, Tillman, Jennings, Bushrod, and Long. The difference, to me, are the quarterbacks. Jay Cutler now is finally working with offensive minds to go with his talent. He has seemingly bought into what Trestman, Cavanaugh and Kromer are selling. Meanwhile, there is a lot of pressure on Dalton this year from the hundreds of Bengals’ fans who exist. He is going into a tough environment today against one of the best defenses in football, a formula that hasn’t exactly been kind to him in the past. It won’t help that Andrew Whitworth, his starting LT, is out today. Bears 26-20.
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)