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2013 NFL Preview: NFC North

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Aug 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) is defended by Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) on a 32-yard touchdown reception in in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears

2012 Record: 10-6; 3rd Place

2013 Prediction: 10-6

Confidence in Pick: 30%

Losses: Brian Urlacher, Lovie Smith

Pickups: Marc Trestman, Martellus Bennett, Jermon Bushrod, Kyle Long, Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene

Reasons for Optimism:

The “Good” Jay Cutler – This is the Jay Cutler that has football “experts” oozing each year because of his strong arm, gun slinger mentality, ability to “make all the throws,” etc. It is the Jay Cutler who shows up a few times a year and looks to be a top 5 QB in the NFL. Cutler can make all the throws, he does have the physical tools to be a great QB, and he has the weapons to be dangerous. If he can ever be this guy from week to week, the Bears could dust off the Super Bowl shuffle under Cutler’s leadership.

The “Good” Brandon Marshall – Like Cutler, Marshall has the physical tools to be one of the best at his position. Like Cutler, there is a lack of consistency in his game, some maturity issues, and a big question mark between his ears.

Improved O-Line – The Bears O-Line was dreadful in 2012; so bad Cutler began assaulting his own lineman mid-game. While I am not designating this revamped O-Line to be a top 10 line, they should be better than their 2012 counterpart, and despite the lines’ struggles in 2012, the Bears did still finish 10-6. If the 2013 line can keep Cutler alive and upright, this team could be tough.

Matt Forte – One of the best RBs in the league and a RB I feel was greatly underutilized in 2012. With an improved O-Line, an offensive-minded coach, and an improved passing attack, Forte may be poised for a big year in 2013.

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