Around the NFC North and the Bears' 2013 schedule

Around the NFC North and the Bears' 2013 schedule
February 10, 2013, 10:30 pm
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The Bears have yet to make moves on significant offseason personnel questions such as retaining linebackers Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach. But their division rivals and other opponents on the 2013 schedule have been busy with steps that project to have some trickle-down effect on what the Bears see starting in September:

Around the NFC North

I previously cited the anticipated departure of wide receiver Greg Jennings from the Green Bay Packers, less of a hit than it might have been several years ago when Jennings was at the top of the WR depth chart. But now the prospect of tight end Jermichael Finley going has reached the “handicapping” of 50/50, by Finley’s own accounting.

His cap ticket for 2013 will be $8.75 million as it all stands, so Green Bay has finances to consider. But Finley put up a career-best 61 catches in 2012 and, more to the point, in the last five games against Bears he has 28 catches and four touchdowns. The Bears would be fine with a Finley exit.

And the other major decision to track up north is what the Packers do with Charles Woodson, who turns 37 this season and has been a linchpin of that defense. Tyler Dunne up at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel lays it all out in thorough detail and it could be another departure with significant implications for the Bears.

The Detroit Lions already have shed their offense of wideout Titus Young and guard Stephen Peterman along with defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. ProFootballFocus.com assessed that Peterman allowed more pressures than any other NFL guard. But he also has started all 48 games the past three seasons, so whatever else the Lions had, it wasn’t better than Peterman….

The Minnesota Vikings? The quiet around Leslie Frazier’s group, a surprise playoff team from a 3-13 mark in 2011, is more than a little interesting. The one major ripple there concerns a huge part of an emerging offense, the fate of receiver/returner Percy Harvin.

Mike Florio out at ProFootballTalk.com chronicles a KFAN-AM interview of Vikings GM Rick Spielman that leaves the situation of one of the most dangerous players in the NFC North decidedly in question. Again, a huge variable to a team the Bears face twice a year.

Around the schedule

The Baltimore Ravens will come to Soldier Field sometime this season. While the Bears probably will be dealing with Jay Cutler’s future at that point, the Ravens are grappling with the contract crisis of the 2013 offseason: Joe Flacco.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin told CSNBaltimore.com flatly that he will never put on another uniform, to the point that he said he will retire a Raven, period. But Flacco had a chance last offseason to take a long-term deal at the team’s price and turned that down in what was a an excellent gamble on himself. Mike over at ProFootballTalk.com has mused about the prospect of someone like the Cleveland Browns making an offer for Flacco that the cap-tight Ravens would be unable to match. Without Flacco and Ray Lewis, that would not be the defending Super Bowl champions coming to Soldier Field.

Add to that the prospect of the Ravens not holding onto edge rusher Paul Kruger and the team the Bears face this season could be substantially different from the one the San Francisco 49ers dealt with a little over a week ago.

And how different with the New York Giants be without running back Ahmad Bradshaw, linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty? Bradshaw was the Giants’ leading rusher (1,015 yards), Boley was their No. 3 tackler and Canty, limited to nine games, finished with three sacks.

The last time the Bears played the New Orleans Saints they lost tackle Gabe Carimi to a knee injury and receiver Earl Bennett to a chest injury. Some suspicion eventually existed that at least Bennett was a Bounty victim. In any case, when they see the Saints this season, Gregg Williams won’t be the New Orleans defensive coordinator; Rob Ryan will, having been hired last week to replace Steve Spagnuolo.

Considering that the Bears put 27 and 34 points on the Dallas defense the last two years when Ryan was Cowboys D-coordinator, and 30 on Ryan’s Cleveland defense in 2009, this would appear to be a positive for the Chicago offense.