Running down the Bears' 2013 opponents

Running down the Bears' 2013 opponents
April 18, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Week 1: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
Andy Dalton has become the poor-man’s Joe Flacco, getting the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, albeit yet without a playoff win. What the Bengals have done quietly, however, is become a formidable defense, ranked eighth in scoring last season and ninth in 2011 while finishing Top 10 in yardage as well. The Cincinnati pass rush was third in sack percentage last year. The Bengals won seven of their last eight games last season and two of their last three in ’11 (both wins vs. NFC teams).
Moon predicts: Loss

[MORE: Bears unveil 2013 schedule]

Weeks 2 (vs.), 13 (at): Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
The Vikings went from doormat to playoff team in one season. Now they will be without Percy Harvin (traded to Seattle) and Michael Jenkins (free agency), who combined for 102 catches and five TDs last year, with Harvin returning kickoffs an average of 35.9 yards per. The addition of Greg Jennings from Green Bay restores some receiving firepower for QB Christian Ponder, who is going into Year 3 with Matt Cassel signed as a backup. And there is always the matter of AP. … The Vikings won the NFC North in 2008-09 and Leslie Frazier has them on the cusp of making a surge if the Packers and Bears stumble.
Moon predicts: Win in Chicago; loss in Minneapolis

Week 3: at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Losing Mike Wallace takes a premier deep threat out of the offense and running back Rashard Mendenhall leaving creates a question. Whether coordinator Todd Haley and QB Ben Roethlisberger can get along is another “TBD,” and the dependable defense will be without feared LB James Harrison after a contract disagreement. Getting ex-Giant Ahmad Bradshaw is intended to address the RB situation, but this is a team that depends on getting a lot from its run offense to complement Roethlisberger.
Moon predicts: Loss

Weeks 4 (at), 10 (vs.): Detroit Lions (6-10)
Any remaining bloom should be gone from the Jim Schwartz rose after the Lions lost their final eight games and now have had one winning season -- one year with more than six Ws -- in Schwartz’s four. The addition of Reggie Bush puts dangerous speed back on Ford Field’s artificial turf. But losing Cliff Avril from a pass rush that was already 20th in sack percentage bodes ill for a chronically underachieving team. The Lions lose an aged -- but solid -- Jeff Backus retiring from left tackle and also saw right tackle Gosder Cherilus sign with Indianapolis so a lot rides on ’12 No. 1 pick Riley Reiff on the O-line.
Moon predicts: Wins in Chicago and Detroit

Week 5: vs. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Getting their head coach back from suspension is a positive but whether Sean Payton can make up for losing an O-line coach (Aaron Kromer) and left tackle (Jermon Bushrod) to the Bears creates voids in key areas. The Saints aren’t likely to start 2013 as they did ’12, losing four straight or finish as they did, losing four of their last six. But the first challenge is to establish that the Bountygate turmoil is indeed all behind them.
Moon predicts: Win

Week 6: vs. New York Giants (9-7)
The Giants winning two Super Bowls overshadows the fact that they have reached the playoffs just three of the last six years in a suspect NFC East. This year they lost tight end Martellus Bennett to the Bears, and released veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw and linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty from their defense, along with defensive end Osi Umenyiora, safety Kenny Phillips and LB Chase Blackburn. The “R” word (“rebuilding”) is being heard in New York. But they also managed to hold onto two of their best O-linemen who take good care of QB Eli Manning.
Moon predicts: Win

Week 7: at Washington Redskins (10-6)
One of the better turnaround stories in recent history but the state of Robert Griffin III’s knee was a major issue even while he was trying to play through the injury. The Redskins were fifth in total yardage and fourth in scoring but relied so heavily on RGIII’s mobility that until that is clearly back, the future is uncertain. As of late last March the Redskins had re-signed more of their own free agents than any other team but need to shore up a defense that couldn’t stop the pass and was 22nd in points allowed.
Moon predicts: Loss

[RELATED: Moon predicts Bears will finish 10-6 in 2013]


Weeks 8 (at), 17 (vs.): Green Bay Packers (11-5)
Green Bay has lost a combined three division games over the last three years. The future isn’t a lot brighter for the Bears -- Aaron Rodgers has a new contract and the Bears are 2-7 against the Packers since he became their starter. Worse perhaps, the Bears behind Jay Cutler have not scored more than 20 points in the last four years against Green Bay. The significance of releasing Charles Woodson is Green Bay’s loose equivalent of Brian Urlacher; as long as developing players continue to do so, and the draft delivers as it has, the Packers can maintain.
Moon predicts: Win in Chicago; Loss (in Green Bay)

Week 11: vs. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Joe Flacco has gotten the Ravens to the playoffs in all five of his NFL seasons but that may be a challenge this year after his contract and player exits made for a difficult offseason. Losing Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbee takes a huge chunk out of a defense that was no longer elite but still ranked 12th in points allowed. The Bears scored seven, 10 and six points the last three times they faced Baltimore going back to 2001. They should do better even with the replacements (Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty) plugged in by GM Ozzie Newsome to the defense.
Moon predicts: Loss

Week 12: at St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
Jeff Fisher turned a doormat into a danger in his first season despite trouble scoring points (25th) and now goes forward without receiver Danny Amendola (to New England) and running back Steven Jackson (Atlanta). The Rams have picks No. 16 and 22 in the draft and 14th in the second round so the opportunity is there for impact additions to go with tight end Jared Cook from Jacksonville and left tackle Jake Long from Miami. The Rams won four of their last six in ’12 and posted a win and a tie vs. San Francisco while splitting with Seattle in a very strong division.
Moon predicts: Loss

Week 14: vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
A Monday night game at Dallas last season seemed to launch the Bears on that 7-1 run through the first half of their season. But the Cowboys have made the playoffs only as often as the Bears (once) over the past five seasons and have been the poster team for underachievement. The defense is abandoning the 3-4 that finished 24th, 16th and 31st in scoring the past three years and going to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin, 73, and D-line coach Rod Marinelli, 63, which is some pretty sage leadership.
Moon predicts: Win

Week 15: at Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Cleveland’s quarterback turmoil continues to stunt any growth and the situation in such that signing former Bears backup Jason Campbell created a buzz, something Brandon Weeden has not. The Browns lost their final three after a rebound from an 0-5 start and jumped at bringing in Rob Chudzinski for their third new head coach in four years. No Browns head coach has had a winning record since Marty Schottenheimer in the mid-‘80s, so good luck to Chudzinski. Outside of left tackle Joe Thomas the Browns don’t do anything especially well, which is how you earn top-seven picks in three of the last four years.
Moon predicts: Win

Week 16: at Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
The end finally came to Andy Reid’s tenure and what was supposed to have been a “Dream Team” a couple of seasons ago. Chip Kelly will have some adjusting to the NFL and vice versa but it is uncertain how well the Oregon offense will translate into the NFL, and Philadelphia has a looming QB issue between increasingly damaged Michael Vick and unproven Nick Foles. The Eagles sent away defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins in a salary-cap purge, but those “losses” were to a defense tied for 29th in points allowed. The Bears have won four of the last five vs. Philadelpia but none by more than six points.
Moon predicts: Win