For the past two seasons, three now with 2012, CSNChicago.com has forecast a "10-6 or better" finish for the Bears. That target was missed last year when 7-3 turned sour after the Jay Cutler injury and beginning of the Caleb Hanie Experience, but the point was quite clear at that point:
The Bears were actually a very good team, the one in fact that had pulled past the Detroit Lions and was being talked about at the time as the biggest concern for the Green Bay Packers.
One of the top NFL commentators has advanced that same outlook for the Bears - for 2012. Clark Judge, senior NFL columnist over at CBSSports.com, says flatly that the Bears are the Packers' biggest worry.
I cite Clark not because he agrees with me, or because he and I go back a long time and I hold his work in nothing short of the highest regard - but because he is the first observer in my 2012 experience to talk about the Bears without the clichd concern about the offensive line.
One of Clark's key points is the backups to Cutler (Jason Campbell) and Matt Forte (Michael Bush), which were not in place when 2011 collapsed. Another is that Detroit has talent but the Bears even with concerns on defense were 14th in points allowed, the Lions 23rd.
Point is, the Bears took a number of significant steps forward this offseason - Brandon Marshall, a draft with potential impact players at pivotal spots (DE Shea McClellin, WR Alshon Jeffery), Bush and Campbell - and took no significant steps backwards. (Losing DT Amobi Okoye to Tampa Bay does not qualify as "significant.")
It's all just analysis right now. Training camp doesn't begin in earnest until Thursday and with pads until Saturday night. But Clark has nailed the main reasons why the Bears and not the Lions, with their miscreant ways, are the Packers' biggest cause for concern.