Chicago Bears

Random News of the Day: 2010 NFL predictions

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Random News of the Day: 2010 NFL predictions

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010
12:27 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It is said that by the third NFL preseason, you should know a little bit about what you should expect from your favorite NFL team the rest of the season. The fourth game matters a lot less than the others-- look no further than tonight's Bears final preseason game. Jay Cutler won't even take a snap against the Browns. Granted, preseason games aren't completely meaningless, as they serve as slight fodder for wild NFL predictions. NFL predictions have to come from somewhere, right? Here's the bottom line on where each team stands in 2010:

Denotes Playoff Team

NFC EAST

Dallas (12-4): It's time for Romo to lead this team deep into the playoffs. Make the EIU fans proud!

N.Y. Giants (9-7): Perry Fewell-led defense the key to turnaround after a monumental letdown in 2009.

Philadelphia (8-8): Solid defense, but questionable offense and a gritty division scream .500 team.

Washington (7-9): Mike Shanahan looks to get the best out of a very average group, all things considered.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay (12-4): Tecmo Bowl-like offense looks to offset a questionable, sometimes-healthy defense.

Minnesota (10-6): Team AP and AARP, Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre. Can 4 bring it again?

Chicago (6-10): Too many question marks on offense. A tough schedule doesn't help, either.

Detroit (6-10): DT Ndamukong Suh forces other teams not to catnap. A Detroit renaissance: lurking?

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta (11-5): As Hawk would say, "Stretch!" Seriously, Falcons over Saints thanks to their offense and schedule.

New Orleans (11-5): They're the targets now. Look for more 38-35 kind of games. Can pass defense hold?

Carolina (7-9): Great RB tandem in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart try to keep these cats above water.

Tampa Bay (5-11): Swiss cheese run defense looks to improve under Raheem Morris, who turns 34 Friday.

NFC WEST

San Francisco (10-6): Time for perpetual trendy pick to shine; ditto Alex Smith. Samurai Mike gets 'em there.

Seattle (8-8): All eyes on Pete Carroll in the Pacific Northwest. Might even challenge 49ers for West title.

Arizona (8-8): No Warner and it's back to mediocrity for the Cards. WR Larry Fitzgerald keeps them going.

St. Louis (3-13): Always been a baseball town. That will not change this year. Check back in Fall 2011.

AFC EAST

N.Y. Jets (11-5): RB Shonn Greene and a still-tough defense look to put a hard knock on a tough division.

Miami (10-6): New WR Brandon Marshall adds to the attack. And if the defense makes a splash...look out.

New England (9-7): Less than 20 players remain from magical 18-1 team. Glory days over in New England?

Buffalo (4-12): New defensive scheme under Chan Gailey will need to work quickly. Play Bears in Toronto 117.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore (12-4): RB Ray Rice and another stout Ravens 'D has spirits high. 4 of first 6 on the road, though.

Cincinnati (10-6): Queen City could spontaneously combust with TO and Ochocinco looking for same spotlight.

Pittsburgh (8-8): If Big Ben can come back with his team still around the .500 mark, that'll be huge.

Cleveland (5-11): Browns, Indians and Cavs could all finish last this year. Cleveland rocks? Lite-rock, maybe.

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis (13-3): Peyton & Co. still truckin' along in Indy. Until Houston shows up, the South is theirs.

Houston (10-6): '09 passing leader Matt Schaub faces Colts and Cowboys in September. Time to step up.

Tennessee (8-8): RB Chris Johnson is a beast, but QB Vince Young and the defense still have a lot to prove.

Jacksonville (6-10): An average team, a hot-seat coach and a tough division leads to more weak gate numbers.

AFC WEST

San Diego (10-6): Chargers still the class of the division. But in the playoffs? We'll see.

Denver (8-8): Every team in this division could finish 8-8. Totally applies to the schizophrenic Broncos.

Oakland (6-10): Al Davis starring in Weekend At Bernies 3. Coming to a half-empty coliseum near you.

Kansas City (5-11): Still too many question marks for a young offense and a shaky defense.
NFC PLAYOFFS

Atlanta 27 Minnesota 24 (Wild-Card Game)

New Orleans 33 San Francisco 19 (Wild-Card Game)

Dallas 24 New Orleans 23 (Divisional Playoff)

Green Bay 24 Atlanta 21 (Divisional Playoff)

Dallas 20 Green Bay 16 (NFC Championship)

AFC PLAYOFFS

Cincinnati 31, New York Jets 27 (Wild-Card Game)

Miami 22, San Diego 20 (Wild-Card Game)

Indianapolis 38, Miami 17 (Divisional Playoff)

Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 14 (Divisional Playoff)

Baltimore 27, Indianapolis 24 (AFC Championship)

SUPER BOWL XLV

Dallas 31, Baltimore 20

That's right-- the first "home" team to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium! As you know, Cowboys Stadium will be the venue for Super Bowl XLV-- February 6, 2011. You're telling me Jerry Jones won't motivate his own organization into that Caesars Palace-like stadium with every eyeball in America watching? Go on now.

It's time for kickoff!

Or something like that.

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

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AP

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

It's been a while since Devin Hester electrified the city of Chicago with his touchdown returns, but we got flashbacks of that Saturday night.

Deonte Thompson took a page out of the book of arguably the best returner in NFL history by returning a 109-yard missed field goal to the house as the first half expired during the Bears' second preseason game in Arizona.

It gave the Bears a 17-7 lead, and even had John Fox going crazy on the sideline:

Deonte Thompson, you are ridiculous?

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

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USA Today Sports Images

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

1. QB Mike Glennon

The Bears’ first team offense as a whole could be included under this subhead, whether it’s the offensive line creating holes for a running back (Jordan Howard won't play with a minor corneal abrasion) or the receivers creating more separation to get open. But the onus is on Glennon to be better than he was Thursday night and prove that 0.0 quarterback rating was the product of a small sample size and not a sign of more serious issues. On the other side of things, a bad game from Glennon only would lead to further questions about his ability to succeed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. 

“I mean, (this game is) bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.” 

2. WR Kevin White

Cameron Meredith can do a lot to help Glennon’s case, but the Bears have a good idea of what they have in the third-year receiver who’s been one of the more steady performers during training camp. Kevin White is in a different position, having not been targeted at all against the Denver Broncos and still needing to prove plenty going into his third year in the NFL. White’s growth this year may be slow, but he needs to show some signs of that growth during preseason games to build up some confidence for Sept. 10. 

“Anytime you go through some injuries, there’s a whole mental game that plays a part of it,” fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (more on him in a bit) said. “Just talking to him – I think he’s over it. He understands those things are behind him. His confidence is back in his body with the things that he can do. You’re starting to see that out there on the football field. He’s really hitting another gear, catching these balls, going deep down the field and putting pressure on these defensive backs.”

3. WR Victor Cruz

It was a little jarring to see Cruz, a Super Bowl-winning former Pro Bowler, playing until the final snap of Thursday’s game — even if that had something to do with the Bears not having Daniel Braverman available and losing Rueben Randle and Joshua Bellamy to injuries during the game. But Cruz hasn’t seemed to significantly push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 slot receiver job over the last few weeks, and could find himself on the roster bubble by the end of the month. A good showing Saturday night could provide a nice boost to his chance of avoiding that bubble.  

“I've been impressed with him,” Fox said before the Bears’ first preseason game. “He's got a great feel for the game. Sometimes it might not be just how fast they are physically but how fast they play, and he seems to be that type of guy. He's still got plenty of gas in the tank and we're excited to have him.”

4. DE Jonathan Bullard

Bullard is the only player on this list who flashed last Thursday, with an impressive tackle for a loss probably the Bears’ second-best defensive play of the day behind Leonard Floyd’s first-play-of-the-game sack. He’s had a solid camp, too, showing some promising signs after struggling to show much of anything a year ago. For Bullard, Saturday night will be about keeping his arrow pointing up, perhaps to the point that he could start at defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks in Week 1. 

“He’s definitely stronger, faster,” Hicks said. “He was already explosive, right? He has picked up the game to a point where he can play within the scheme now and see things come and be able to predict the play in order to get a step on the guard or the tackle, whoever he’s playing against. Just the things that come with getting more reps.”

5. CB Kyle Fuller

No player may have a better opportunity Saturday night than Fuller, who should be in line to take first-team reps with Bryce Callahan out and Prince Amukamara missing practices this week with a strained hamstring. What Fuller does with this opportunity could be a major deciding factor of whether or not he’s part of the Bears’ 53-man roster — this coaching staff and front office didn’t draft him, and his fifth-year option for 2018 was declined in the spring. 

“It’s a new year,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said earlier this month when asked about Fuller. “We start evaluating guys by what you’ve seen on the field at this point.”