The thing I hate about the Chargers playing the NFC North this season is that it's one of, if not the, coldest division in football late in the season. Whether or not anybody will admit it, there's always some concern about whether the Chargers can play well in cold weather. I know some people that are still convinced that the weather played a big part in the Chargers shocking loss to the Bengals late in 2010, the game that derailed a team that seemed destined to make the playoffs. A December game in Chicago would be a scary proposition.
2010 Record: 11-5, 1st in NFC North
Playoff Outcome: Lost in NFC Championship to the Green Bay Packers
Key Free Agents
Key IR Returns
The big story of the offseason is Jay Cutler, obviously. Again Jay's career path has met back up with Philip Rivers, after he spent the second half of the NFC Championship Game on the sidelines when Rivers spent the AFC Championship Game playing through an even worse knee injury. The comparison was too easy to make, and now Cutler is going to have to prove himself to be a tough leader after proving that he could be a decent QB under Mike Martz. The Bears will start 2011 much the same way they did 2010, with a hated QB and a hated Offensive Coordinator. The difference this season might be where that disapproval is coming from, Chicago or elsewhere.
The thing people overlook with the Bears is that their defense in 2010 was one of the league's best, and they got ridiculously lucky with injuries (a big reason for the improvement from 2010). The only really important players on that free agent list are Olin Kreutz, Anthony Adams and Danieal Manning, and the Bears could honestly probably live without those last two as well. However, chances are that the Bears won't have the same luck with health in 2011. If they can come close to it, this can be a very dangerous team.