Literally, what could go wrong? Each season, all the 32 NFL teams will face obstacles such as injuries, suspensions and outright poor performance as they try and fight their way to the finish line. With that being said, what hurdles stand in the way of the Chicago Bears becoming Super bowl champions this year? Let's take a look at some scenarios.
1. Jay Cutler just doesn't deliver the goods. However unlikely this might seem, given that he is being afforded every opprtunity to deliver, this is still a possibility. For whatever reason, Cutler just might not be the type of quarterback we all think he will be this year. Whether that is due to poor play from the offensive line, or Cutler not gelling with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery et al.
A poor season from Cutler would almost certainly spell disaster for the Bears. Lester has already highlighted the fact that the Bears passer is the most important man on the team this year. The pressure is certainly on Cutler to show the fans and the rest of the team that they are right to believe in him, and he is the man to take us all the way.
Hopefully, he won't have to carry the entire team on his back. We expect good performances from the running backs, and the defence is looking strong.
It can begin to feel like now or never for the Bears and especially Cutler. General manager Phil Emery and the coaching staff have put together one of the best looking Bears teams in years. Let's just hope it looks as good on the field as it does on paper.
2. The offensive line crumbles (again?) Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been sacked 75 times in the last two seasons alone. And while not every sack can be attributed to the play of the offensive line, it doesn't point to the Bears delivering good protection. Things just have to improve.
Hopefully, under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, we will see a marked improvement. Lovie Smith has remained positive about the line (would you expect anything else), but SB Nation has the unit ranked 29th overall, which, if it turns out to be true, would definitely be a stumbling block as the Bears race to the playoffs.
One positive is that Chicago will finally get to see what last year's number one draft pick, Gabe Carimi is all about. After playing just one game last season before getting injured, he is essentially still a rookie, but nothing but good things are expected from the offensive tackle. Although not quite fully recovered from his season ending knee injury, the outlook is positive. He recently said:
"I don't think I have any concerns," Carimi said. "(I'm) just ready to go. I haven't put on pads since I got injured (on Sept. 18). I have to see how that all pans out. I felt good in camp; was moving around, staying around people when they made their inside move. But you don't actually know if you're going to be able to engage and slow them down. It's a whole different ballgame once you put on the pads. So we'll wait and see."
It remains to be seen how the rest of the line perform, but can it get any worse. A recent poll on Windy City Gridiron saw the majority of people thinking that the Bears starting left tackle will be Chris Williams and not J'Marcus Webb, who has faced some criticism.
Without a strong showing from the offensive line, Chicago's run game will suffer and of course Cutler won't be able to perform to the best of his abilities. It is of paramount importance that the big guys up front get the job done this year.
3. Brandon Marshall fails to live up to the hype. It is a hype that has been created by the media and definitely the fans, and not necessarily anything Marshall has said or done. But people are excited. For the first time in what seems like an age, the Bears have a legitimate number one receiver. He is a threat to any defence, and being reunited with Jay Cutler can only be a good thing.
But what if it doesn't quite work out? What if the match made in heaven just sort of fizzles out, and Cutler and Marshall don't connect in the way we all hope/think they will?
I think the Bears will suffer. Of course, there is still the reliable Earl Bennett, the explosive Devin Hester and promising rookie Alshon Jeffery, amongst others, but a poor season from Marshall could see the Bears struggling.
Of course, there is no reason to think he won't have a good year. And a productive season from Marshall opens the door for the other receivers as well. If Marshall commands all the attention from opposing defensive backs, the other Bears receivers could also find themselves putting up nice looking numbers.
I hope Marshall is able to live up to the hype that seems to have been thrust upon him. If he does, then it makes Chicago's job a whole lot easier.
4. Injuries. We saw last year, how injuries can have a devastating effect on a team's fortunes. The Bears were looking good until Cutler went down, and then losing Matt Forte didn't help matters.
This year, Chicago seem much better set in terms of their backups. Quarterback Jason Campbell is an improvement over Caleb Hanie, and if he has to step in, it shouldn't disrupt things too much.
And although it looks like running back Michael Bush will see a good amount of playing time this season, if he had to carry the full workload, I think he would be more than capable.
You can never predict when an injury might occur, but the Bears have good depth and barring any disasters like we saw last season, Chicago should be well placed the deal with any cards they might be dealt.
So, what do you think? Let us know what stands between the Bears and a trip to New Orleans at the beginning of 2013.