Now that NFL training camps are open across the league and football talk has moved from transactions to on-field practices, the narrative around the Chicago Bears is becoming slightly more pessimistic.
In a recent poll of NFL analysts, not a single vote was cast for the Bears to win the NFC North. Instead, of the eight analysts polled, five voted for the Vikings and three chose the Packers.
"The Vikings were dominant on defense last year and will be again in 2018, but now the offense will be as impactful with Kirk Cousins at quarterback and Dalvin Cook healthy at running back. The Vikings will do more than win the NFC North; they should be a favorite to challenge to win the whole conference."
Those are some lofty expectations for Minnesota and a big leap of faith to make in a quarterback who has yet to prove in his career that he's capable of winning a Super Bowl. Sure, Cousins is playing with arguably the best supporting cast he's ever had, but his addition isn't an automatic ticket to the big dance.
The Packers will always be a contender as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, and always have to be considered a favorite in the division, but the Bears represent the young, up-and-coming club that the bullies on the block need to get ready for.
It's certainly too soon to expect Chicago to be in the mix for a division crown this year, but stranger things have happened. Just ask Jared Goff and the Rams.
The Chicago Bears have a favorable matchup Monday night against the Redskins in a game that could be just what the offense needs to get back on track. Washington will be the worst defense Mitch Trubisky has faced (by far) this season and should present opportunities for big plays in both the passing and running games.
But as is the case every week in the NFL, injuries could play a part in the outcome. And the Bears have a few notable names on their injury report.
The most notable is DL Bilal Nichols, who's expected to miss the game with a broken hand. Trey Burton was limited in practice once again with a groin injury, but he should be good to go Monday night. He returned to action in Week 2 and played 26 of 60 snaps on offense.
Kyle Long (hip), Eddie Jackson (shoulder) and Eddie Goldman (oblique) were also limited Thursday, but none appear at risk of missing the game.
The long week should help the Bears climb closer to full health with the exception of Nichols.
It's early—very early—in the 2019 season, but there are a few Chicago Bears players who've quickly established themselves as critical pieces to whatever success this team will enjoy. Obvious names like Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks are irreplaceable parts on defense, but what about HaHa Clinton-Dix? The Adrian Amos replacement has emerged as one of the team's best all-around performers through two games.
A glaring name missing from Chicago's best of the best this week is QB Mitch Trubisky. He'll need a big game against the Redskins on Monday night in order to silence his critics and climb back into the who's who list on this roster. No position is more important to a Super Bowl run than the quarterback, so for Trubisky not to be among the Bears' best right now is somewhat concerning.
And how about that kicker? Eddy Pineiro is on the verge of becoming a household name because of his journey to the Bears' starting job and his clutch 53-yard game-winner against the Broncos in Week 2. He earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors because of it, as well as a spot in this edition of the Power Rankings.
Here are the top-10 Bears heading into Week 3.