By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on July 7, 2014
The Chicago Bears haven't qualified for postseason play since 2010. They're seemingly too talented to miss out on the playoffs a fourth consecutive time. Here are five reasons why Chicago will not only return to the playoffs, but win the NFC North title in 2014.
The Bears' biggest weakness in 2013 was unmistakably a leaky run defense. In fact, no team surrendered more rushing yards last year than Chicago's defense, which was weak on the interior after losing middle linebacker Brian Urlacher to retirement and defensive tackle Henry Melton to injury. Adding defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton during May's draft in the second and third rounds respectively, should help foster improvement in 2014.
Chicago's largest obstacle to claiming the NFC North in 2014 will be the reigning division champion Green Bay Packers. While the Packers enter 2014 as the favorite to win the division for good reason, most namely elite quarterback Aaron Rodgers, their defense remains a question mark. Green Bay addressed several pressing needs during the offseason, but a lot would have to go right for it to boast one of the league's better defenses in 2014.
Nothing new here. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery comprise arguably the most talented wide receiver tandem in the sport. Opposing teams simply don't have the size at cornerback to match up with both. The two's continued dominance will be one of the biggest reasons why the Bears will capture their first division title since 2010.
In addition to struggling to stop the run, the Bears' defense didn't muster up much of a pass rush in 2013. Their 31.0 sacks tied for dead last in the NFL. Enter defensive end Jared Allen, who has been one of the league's most productive pass rushers over the last 10 years. His acquisition alone won't suddenly equip the Bears with a dangerous pass rush, but it sure helps.
Quarterback Jay Cutler hasn't played a full 16-game season since his first year in Chicago back in 2009. He's due for some good health. And a healthy Cutler for 16 games will make the Bears one of the league's most dangerous teams offensively. There's no bigger reason why the Bears will win the NFC North in 2014.
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