Bears

NFC North ranked 2nd-toughest division in NFL

NFC North ranked 2nd-toughest division in NFL

Every team in the NFL starts the regular season with playoff aspirations. It's no different for the Chicago Bears in 2018, but their road to the post-season may be a little more difficult than most.

According to NFL.com, the Bears play in the second-toughest division in the NFL.

2) NFC North: Vikings, Lions, Packers, Bears

This is no longer the Aaron Rodgers Invitational. The Vikings kept all the best parts of their NFC title game squad while upgrading at quarterback, defensive tackle and the No. 3 receiver spot. Matthew Stafford has the perfect combination of scheme continuity, weapons and a bolstered offensive line to enjoy a career season. Rodgers is due for another MVP campaign that reminds everyone he might be the most talented ever at his position, while the Bears finally look interesting again.

Chicago's anticipated revival is the key. I don't need to watch another six-minute montage prior to a Bears-Packers national television game calling it the sport's greatest rivalry before another 38-13 target-practice sesh for Rodgers. If the Bears' hype pans out, the NFC North has the highest ceiling of any division: Two true title contenders and two dreaded "teams no one wants to face."

The Bears don't want to just be a team that no one wants to face. They want to be contenders, and the NFC North will be the ultimate test for coach Matt Nagy and QB Mitch Trubisky on the path to contender status. 

Former coach Mike Ditka offered his opinion on the NFC North in a recent sit-down with NBC Sports.

"In the National Football League you have to look at your division, that’s where it all starts," Ditka said. "You got Green Bay, you got Detroit, you got Minnesota, you got Chicago. Now Chicago has to understand they got to come out of the six games with Minnesota, Detroit and Green Bay with at least four wins. At least four. If you come out 5-1 or 6-0, fantastic, but that’s going to determine how you play the rest of the league."

No one is expecting the Bears to finish 5-1 or 6-0 in the division this year. They only won five games, total, in 2017.

A more reasonable expectation for Chicago is a 4-2 finish in the North. If they can sweep the Lions while splitting with the Packers and Vikings, meaningful games with playoff implications will be in the cards for December.

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

clinton-dixthumb.jpg
USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

It's been a almost a week since the Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix signing and it's still looking like a total win for the Bears. JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan on why the Bears appear to have gotten a bargain (1:00) , how Dix could be the perfect fit for this defense at this time, and the chemistry he'll have with former 'Bama teammate Eddie Jackson. Plus probably too much punter talk after the Bears bring back Pat O'Donnell (9:30), and some more edge rusher possibilities in the next wave of free agency (14:00). And of course an update on the Chicago Football Madness as 7-seed Alex Brown makes a desperate attempt to launch a comeback and avoid an upset against 10-seed Robbie Gould (22:10)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

NBC's Chris Simms has Bears as #1 seed in NFC bracket

simms_tb_08-31_640x360_1037188163530.jpg
USA Today

NBC's Chris Simms has Bears as #1 seed in NFC bracket

It's Bracket SZN. 

There are so many fun brackets to choose from right now. There's your standard NCAA bracket, our Chicago Football Madness bracket, and apparently NFC brackets? 

Chris Simms is doing them, at least, and the good news is that it's an excuse to write that someone thinks the Bears will be good! 

And just for good measure, here's Simms talking with Bears fan and fellow NBC analyst Roger Bennett: