The boss ordered it up—the annual forecast of wins and losses that comes along with the release of the NFL schedule. In the midst of negotiations for an expense-paid trip to the 2009 Pro Bowl, I was in no position to beg off.
I’m not sure if I have ever been within a few games of actually being correct when it comes to this. So much can change between now and training camp, let alone the beginning of the season, and for the Bears’ sake they better hope there is some change.
The NFC North would appear to be at least somewhat up for grabs following the retirement of Brett Favre in Green Bay and his follow-up comments to that in which he asserts he’s done playing. Never say never. The Packers still have some developing young talent and they didn’t win 13 games by mistake in 2007. The Vikings have a fabulous running back in Adrian Peterson, a dominant offensive line, a deep threat in Bernard Berrian and an improving defense led by Leslie Frazier. It’s up to quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and the offensive guru in Brad Childress for them to take the next step. Rod Marinelli is finishing his work with the push broom in Detroit, reshaping the roster from top to bottom. Somewhere, quarterback Jon Kitna certainly is talking about 10 wins, right?
Predictions by colleagues Mike Mulligan, Jay Mariotti and Rick Telander will appear in Wednesday’s edition. Here is my haphazard effort:
Sept. 7 at Indianapolis, Loss. If Rex Grossman reclaims the job in training camp, it will mark the 34th change in starting quarterbacks in a span of 140 regular-season games. That doesn’t mean we’re counting out Kyle Orton in this space, however.
Sept. 14 at Carolina, Loss. Muhsin Muhammad ought to be able to find a quarterback to blame on this day, right? Since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, 234 teams have started 0-2. Of those, 27 have gone on to reach the playoffs (11.5 percent). You say the odds are daunting. I say the Super Bowl champion New York Giants lost their first two games last season. Of course, nine others began 0-2 and look where that got Atlanta, Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, the New York Jets, Oakland Philadelphia and St. Louis. Nowhere.
Sept. 21 TAMPA BAY, Win. Not sure what the Bucs are doing collecting quarterbacks and wide receivers this offseason. The aging defense needs help from a running game.
Sept. 28 PHILADELPHIA, Loss. No Brian Griese. No headset malfunction. No fun.
Oct. 5 at Detroit, Loss. The Lions could still be finding their way under new offensive coordinator Jim Colletto but there is life after Mike Martz.
Oct. 12 at Atlanta, Win. Mike Vick’s flag football team in Leavenworth, Kan., could be more compelling by Week 6 than the Falcons.
Oct. 19 MINNESOTA, Loss. Adrian Peterson’s romp through Soldier Field last season was an example of what happens when the weaknesses of the Tampa Two are combined with bad tackling, really bad tackling.
Nov. 2 DETROIT, Win. Being swept by the Lions isn’t an option, is it?
Nov. 9 TENNESSEE, Loss. Without a very potent running game, and with Justin Gage as the Titans leading receiver, this bunch made the playoffs in 2007.
Nov. 16 at Green Bay, Win. How many more wins will it take for Lovie Smith to get a street named after him in Title Town?
Nov. 23 at St. Louis, Win. In a normal year, the Rams’ 2007 effort merits the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Nov. 30 at Minnesota, Loss. Don’t laugh. Gus Frerotte could be piloting the Vikings in time for the holidays. Minnesota has won seven of the last 10 at home against the Bears and Peterson might be the new Randy Moss when it comes to playing the Bears.
Dec. 7 JACKSONVILLE, Loss. Yes, the Bears liked David Garrard when he came out of East Carolina in 2002 as a fourth-round pick. Yes, Garrard’s name surfaced in trade talks a few years ago. The Jags were pretty smart to keep him.
Dec. 11 NEW ORLEANS, Win. Bear weather and the Saints just don’t mix.
Dec. 22 GREEN BAY, Loss. A win here and the Bears split their divisional games. A loss at the end of a season of disarray, and change will be afoot.
Dec. 28 at Houston, Loss. The Texans have quietly done a credible job of rebuilding in the post-Dom Capers era. Remember, the Bears couldn’t beat them when they came to Soldier Field in the freezing conditions in 2004. That was a bad Texans team they faced that day.
Based on past prognosticating efforts five months before a season begins, it promises to be within six or seven games of being accurate. If it doesn't, I'll surely be hearing from the man in charge and he's liable to rename this little outpost on the World Wide Web "Outside the Bears."