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Fair look at the Bears

I don't have much of a history when it comes to articles written by Mike Nadel of the Surburban Chicago News, so if he is a flip flopper like the the sportscaster that shall not be named, then I apologize, but this sounds like a reasonably fair take on the Bears.

Halfway through the season, the Bears already have won as many games as they did all last year. Credit coordinators who apparently know how to coordinate, players who make just enough big plays and a confidence level befitting a first-place team.

The Bears are good enough to beat most opponents but not so good that victory over even NFL dregs can be assumed, and they will win the NFC North -- probably handily -- because they realize those things are true. Credit coach Lovie Smith with keeping them grounded and prepared.

On the surface, Sunday's ragged 20-17 victory over a bad New Orleans Saints team was nothing special. There's a lot bubbling below the surface, however.

The Bears have won two consecutive road games despite not playing their best. After a 1-3 start, they are 4-0 overall despite having a rookie at quarterback and injuries to several important players. Credit GM Jerry Angelo, a frequent target of this cynic, for improving the team's depth and finding some playmakers.

So how good are these Bears? "I don't know," defensive end Alex Brown said. "You tell me."

OK, let's try this: Pretty good but not great; dangerous and getting better.

"Last year, when we didn't play our best, we didn't have a chance to win," linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "Now, we didn't play our best and still got a win on the road. We're 5-3, we've got four in a row, we're going home for two games (against San Francisco and Carolina) and we're in great position."

The truth of it is we are right in between the extremes you keep reading about.  We are not as good as some of the severe homers think, but we are not as bad as most non-Chicagoans keep telling us.  We will make the playoffs.  Our defense is dangerous enough that it could give some teams fits and if our offense continues to progress and we catch a team on the right day, we could take somebody more favored out.