The Indianapolis Colts will travel to Soldier Field for the first time since November 21st, 2004 when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears 41-10. This time, the Colts and Bears will meet in the regular season opener for the second time in five years as the Bears upset the Colts 29-13 in the first game of the 2008 regular season. That game also happened to be the opener of Lucas Oil Stadium and the coming out party for running back Matt Forte as he torched the Colts defense.
This year, the Colts have a totally different team than that of the 2-14 season they had last year. Gone is the entire coaching staff, front office, and many of the starts the Colts grew accustomed to. Now, the Colts move to a different defensive look from a Tampa 2 base 4-3 scheme to a hybrid base 4-3 scheme. The Colts will play more tight man coverage and bring more pressure to the quarterback than in years past.
The offense now will no longer be one-dimensional centered around the right arm of Peyton Manning. The Colts drafted Andrew Luck with the top pick in April’s draft and will now try and not only utilize his strengths, but establish a smash mouth running game.
The Bears on the other hand will basically be the same team they were last season. The defense ranks 17th overall in 2011 and gave up 21.3 points per game in 16 contests. The offense had somewhat of a disappointing season as they ranked 24th in the league in average 22.1 points per game and gaining just over 314 yards per game.
I’d expect both sides of the ball to be better for Chicago this season with the offense being the most improved of the two. The Bears added running back Michael Bush from Oakland and reunited Brandon Marshall with Jay Cutler. I think both will help this offense tremendously and could make give them a force to be reckoned with on offense.
As far as this game I think Chicago will be a bit too much for Indianapolis and pull this one out. Chicago’s offense will be too tough to stop and I don’t think it will put the Colts offense in good situations.
Chicago is good against the rush and the Colts struggled to establish a consistent running game this preseason. I think Luck will do a good enough job managing the offense and not turning the ball over, but I think the Bears will force a lot of punts instead.
The Colts defense is banged up and I think could hold their own for a while against Chicago, but I think there will be too much Matt Forte on early downs, and Michael Bush will be too tough to stop on short yardage and redzone stands. I like Chicago in this one.
Prediction: Chicago 27 Indianapolis 20