Bears' 2011 schedule about same difficulty as 2010

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Bears' 2011 schedule about same difficulty as 2010

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
12:52 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Winning the NFC North division got the Bears into the 2010 playoffs. That and division finishes elsewhere in the NFC also got them their lineup of opponents for the 2011 season.

The gimmes are the obvious: games home and away against the Lions, Packers and Vikings (against whom the Bears were a combined 5-1 this season).

The divisional cycle has the Bears playing the NFC West, meaning the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All but the Panthers won at least 10 games in 2010 and the Panthers will get the No. 1 pick of the draft.

The rotation also draws the AFC West for the Bears: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego.

And the prize for winning your division is that you play the other division winners, so add Philadelphia and Seattle to the schedule, which looks like this:

Home

Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota
Atlanta
Carolina
Seattle
Kansas City
San Diego

Away

Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia
Denver
Oakland

Looking beyond just the teams, the schedule is about the same difficulty as the 2010 slate, based on opponents records (but not taking the cumulative win-loss total for all, which I think can be skewed for better or worse based on a few seriously awful teams). Consider:

The Bears will have nine games against opponents with 2010 records of .500 or better, up just one from this seasons total of eight (New England, NY Jets, Green Bay and Minnesota twice each, and both Carolina and the NY Giants were .500 teams in 2009;

Seven games are against teams in the 2010 playoffs; the Bears faced eight teams this year which had made the 2009 playoffs (Dallas, Philadelphia, New England, NY Jets, Green Bay and Minnesota twice each)
Bettin time

Theres no shortage of betting lines, odds, tips, touts, whatever on the playoffs but Bodog.com weighed in with the Seattle Seahawks at 100-1 odds for winning the Super Bowl. Players dont play based on odds but they may prepare just a little harder if theyre mad, so heres guessing Pete Carroll has let his lowlies know what the wagering world thinks of them.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.” 

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

In this edition of the BearsTalk Podcast, JJ Stankevitz and Chris Boden discuss what should be a strength - the offensive line, and one member who has a lot on the line this season.

Plus, the guys pick some numbers for the 2017 season and predict whether or not the team or individuals will fall short or exceed them.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: