The 2012 NFL season kicked off last night, but for Chicago fans it's all about Sunday. With an intriguing schedule and a talented team, this could be a special year for the Bears.
Sunday's home opener will mark the regular season debut of the league's top overall draft pick (and the heir to Peyton Manning's throne in Indianapolis) Andrew Luck. The Bears will turn around on a short week and play at Green Bay in a nationally featured, Thursday night game between heated rivals (September 13).
The Packers and Lions return some of the league's most prolific offenses. The NFC North had two of the better scoring teams in the NFL a year ago. After an offseason filled with surprises, which included a new general manager, the Bears should join those two among the game's elite scoring teams.
At least on paper, this could be the most talented offense in the history of the organization.
Brandon Marshall, one of the better receivers in the game, was acquired from Miami. He had great success in Denver as the number one target for then-Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. The two have already displayed some incredible chemistry during the preseason.
The Bears also added another big, talented receiver in the draft when they selected Alshon Jeffery out of South Carolina. Adding Marshall and Jeffery to Earl Bennett and Devin Hester gives Cutler more weapons than he's ever had at the receiver position.
Matt Forte will be complimented in the backfield by Michael Bush, who ran for nearly 1,000 yards in a limited role with Oakland last year. Quarterback Jason Campbell will serve as a good, experienced back-up to Cutler.
In all, the Bears offense will be dangerous this year.
On the other side of the ball, linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs return as the heart and soul of a very good group. Julius Peppers will be joined on the defensive line by Shea McClellin, the team's first round draft pick. Charles "Peanut" Tillman will once again lead the secondary.
The defense will have their hands full this year, as Bears fans will have the opportunity to see some of the game's elite players at Soldier Field.
In addition to Luck's Colts in Sunday's opener, also on the schedule to appear in Chicago this year are running back Arian Foster and the Houston Texans, superstar quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers and the usual highlight-producing stars from inside the North division, Calvin Johnson in Detroit and Aaron Rodgers with Green Bay.
This could be a thrilling year at Soldier Field. Will you be there?
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