This smoke hurts my eyes! These cheerleaders are distracting! Waaahhh!
We're halfway through the season in Bear country, and while 5-3 and third in the division isn't ideal, we've definitely seen enough in the first nine weeks of the season to have optimism for the second half of the year. That being said, lets take a look at some stats and make some (possibly) informed predictions on how the rest of the season shakes out. Throw another Lion on the barbie!
First off is the Bears' final regular season record - right now 5-3 is good enough (with tiebreakers) to eek into the playoffs as the number six seed, but Sunday's game will either put us in a great position for a playoff run or leave us praying week-to-week that things work out in the end.
Regular Season Record Prediction: 11-5
I see wins against every team but the Packers and the Raiders, even though the schedule definitely isn't going to be a cakewalk. Detroit and San Diego both come to Chicago, but those are far from gimmes, while the Chiefs and Seahawks home games should be a bit easier wins for the Bears. Traveling to Minnesota and Denver are worrisome mainly because they're road games against teams that could be showing considerable improvement by then, and for some reason, that west coast game against the Raiders just seems like a hiccup for us.
Total Sacks Allowed: 37
We're at 21 halfway through the season, and have only allowed three sacks in the last three games, so I'm hoping this number is a bit high. As Wiltfong pointed out, the Bears are now only allowing the tenth-most sacks, but we'll see enough aggressive defenses in the second-half of the season to bring that number up. Still, that number would be way better than the 2010 Bears giving up 56 sacks on the year.
Cutler Passing Yards, Touchdowns and INTs: 3,855 yards, 25 TD, 14 INT
Did you know Jay Cutler is almost on pace for a 4,000 yards season (his career high is 4,526)? I don't think he hits 4k this year, mainly because of the expected weather issues we see in November and December, but he'll come close. Right now his TD/INT are 11/6, so I expect those numbers to rise thanks to a few (hopefully short-term) Mad Martz moments and teams keying more and more on Forte.
Matt Forte rushing/receiving yards: 1,436 rushing, 745 receiving
He's on pace right now for 1,610 rushing and 872 receiving yards, but I just don't see him keeping up that ridiculous pace (close, but not quite). We face some stiff run defenses (Oakland, Green Bay) and incliment weather, and you have to think teams will stack the box more often as the weather turns gawd-awful. His receiving numbers per game have been steadily declining from amazing to ho-hum, so he may hit 2,000 yards, but not the 1,000 each that I hoped.
Roy Williams receiving numbers: 38/583/4
Look, we can all acknowledge Roy E. isn't our best receiver, but he remains an important piece to the puzzle in the passing game because of his size. Through eight games his numbers are 16/236/1, and I think he'll get more looks down the stretch the more comfortable he is (maybe now he's finally in playing shape).
Bears Defensive Rankings: 21st in yards allowed, 23rd in passing yards, 8th in rushing yards
Right now the Bears are 23rd in yards allowed, in part because of "bend, don't break," and in part because of their record. The Bears pass defense (26th overall) isn't great, but we've had enough leads that teams have been forced to throw more often, and our rush defense (11th overall) is back to being one of the best in the league (ok, top-third).
Number of Robbie Gould missed field goals: 3
The man is just fantastic at what he does. He's 17/18 this season so far, including two 50+ kicks, and he's actually perfect on this continent (stupid Wembley). Gould's leg strength and accuracy have improved during his career in Chicago, and his field goal miss totals for each year are: six, four, five, three, four, and five. He's actually had a kick blocked in each of the past five seasons, so I assume he misses one in foul weather and gets one blocked at some point.
So, those are my predictions, feel free to include your own and/or pick apart my precognitive abilities.