Chicago Bears: Are they pretenders or contenders?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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Khalil Mack Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The case for being contenders

The reason why this Bears team could legitimately contend for the NFC North division crown is simple: The defense is elite.

Khalil Mack is obviously a one-man wrecking crew. At the moment, he has 15 quarterback pressures by himself through three games — the same amount as the entire Oakland Raiders defense.

Yeah, I had to throw that in there.

Mack is second in the NFL in total pressures (min. 60 snaps) and has at least one sack and a forced fumble in every game this season. The last player to do that?

Mack in 2016. Are you sensing a theme, here?

This guy has absolutely taken hold of the defensive unit and is leading them into elite territory.

Mack has helped this defense reach new heights, and his crew put the Cardinals to bed after giving up 14 quick points. Not only did the defense take the ball away in every second-half series against Arizona, but after they went down 14-0, here is a recap of each Bears defensive series:

  • Punt
  • Punt
  • Punt
  • Interception
  • Interception
  • Fumble Recovery
  • Interception

The defense is what’s going to keep the Bears in every game this season. Offensively, the Bears can do enough to put points on the board. It all starts with the run game. Howard had 24 carries in Week 3 for only 61 yards.

But here’s the point: He had 24 carries. Nagy did not shy away from the run, no matter how bad being down 14-0 might have felt. That’s a sign of a smart coach. Not abandoning the run, especially with a young quarterback, is going to be essential in every single game this season.

The run game opens up a lot of things offensively, which will really help Mitch Trubisky. While Trubisky has his flaws, he does excel when out of the pocket. Running the ball will open up play-action, enabling Trubisky to roll out at times and scan the middle of the field.

That’s another area Trubisky is above average. We’ll get to the downfield stuff later, but when he’s working the middle of the field, he’s looked most comfortable. Running the ball, getting passes away quickly or running play-action are all going to come into play when trying to assist in developing this young, still-raw quarterback.

If the defense can continually hold opponents under 20 points and create turnovers at this rate, the offense will be able to do enough.