When a team's defense features stars like Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, and Akiem Hicks, it'd be foolish to suggest it won't be one of the top units in the NFL.

That's why The Athletic got it right in their recent ranking of all 32 defenses entering the 2020 season. The Chicago Bears check-in at No. 5.

5. Chicago Bears
Last year: 8th

They have the potential to produce the best pass-rushing defensive line in the league. The combination of Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn on the edge will be as tough to block as any in the NFL. And Akiem Hicks (missed 11 games last season) is one of the league’s most disruptive interior linemen. On the back end, the Bears need second-round pick Jaylon Johnson (or someone else on the roster) to be a competent number two corner opposite Kyle Fuller. They have Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson, and Tashaun Gipson could prove to be an upgrade over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. A couple things need to fall their way, but this group has a high ceiling.

Having a high ceiling is putting it lightly. The Bears have a chance to regain their standing as the most feared defense in the NFL, especially if players like Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan play a full 16 games. Remember: Smith and Trevathan have the potential to be the best inside linebacker duo in the NFL. We had a taste of their upside in 2018, Smith's rookie season, but 2019 was a year to forget. Smith missed four games while Trevathan missed seven. 


As for the rest of the NFC North, the Vikings rank 11th, the Packers are 13th and the Lions checked-in at 28th.

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