Ah yes, the college and NFL teams are reporting for training camps and the football season has officially begun. This Sunday night kicks everything off with the annual Hall of Fame Game from Canton, marking the beginning of the NFL pre-season. It's a time of optimism and excitement. Sure, some teams have higher expectations than others, but last season the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins proved that a poor team can become a very good team over the course of one off-season. Make the right moves and suddenly the playoffs become very achievable.
Heck, if the Arizona Cardinals can make it to the Super Bowl then I'm pretty sure just about anything's possible.
I'm still smiling that my Bears stole QB Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos during the off-season, and I'm bigtime jazzed to see how the Bears do with an actual NFL-caliber QB running the offense. Yeah, the Chicago Bears will always be known for defense and running the ball, but having a quarterback that can threaten the opponent's defense will really open things up. Even just the threat of Cutler throwing deep to Hester should create opportunities for guys like RB Matt Forte and TE Greg Olsen.
Every year I mean to drive over to Bourbannais and see the Bears pre-season training camp, and every year I never actually get it done. I've always wanted to see how a pro team runs their practices, so maybe with the excitement surrounding this year's team I'll finally get motivated and hop in the truck to go check things out at the Bears camp. (Probably not though, and I'll just wind up writing this very same paragraph for next season.)
Looking around the NFC North, I have to say that the Bears should be favored to win the division.
The Detroit Lions are, well, still the Detroit Lions. Keep top draft pick QB Matt Stafford in your prayers. He'll need them to survive if the Lions decide to play him right away.
The Green Bay Packers have had troubles on defense, and to combat those they've decided to switch from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4. Uh, maybe it's not about how they line up, but actually about players making plays? Anyways, the Packers still look to be vulnerable on D.
The Minnesota Vikings missed out on a helping of Favre Beans as the Holy Brett will actually stay retired and throw passes to high school kids in Mississippi. Shortly after that little bit of news, possible starting QB Tav Jackson came up lame in an early practice with a sprained knee ligament. Talk about adding insult to injury . .. or is it injury to insult? Either way, the Vikings have serious quarterback issues.
Never thought I'd be writing that about a team other than the Bears!