COLUMN: Upcoming season, stats don’t look promising for Monster’s of Midway

By Kyle Betts

For those of you new to campus (and maybe for some of the upperclassmen who haven’t gotten the memo yet), things around here don’t always work out like people say they will.

Here are a few examples:

“Food in the dorms is actually not bad” … unless eating dog food is your thing.

“Lincoln Hall is a safe place to attend class” … if you have a decent insurance policy that covers injuries from falling objects.

“The Compass Web site is easy to use and navigate” … if you happen to be the Ferdinand Magellan of the Internet.

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Now, I’m not trying to say people are purposely lying, they’re just a little misinformed about the truth.

And one of the most misinformed statements you may hear across campus during the fall is people saying, “The Chicago Bears are going to have a great season in 2008.”

I don’t want to be a predictor of doom and gloom (I’ll leave that job to a certain columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times whose name shall not be mentioned), but I’ve been crunching the numbers all offseason, and I just can’t see the Monsters of the Midway returning to glory.

Bears Nation watched in puzzlement during the last few months as Cedric Benson chugged his career away, first-round pick and expected starting left tackle Chris Williams went down with a serious back injury, and Lance Briggs filled the final roster spots on his semi-professional baseball team consisting only of women he has impregnated.

To their credit, though, the Bears were able to re-sign most of their key players and put themselves in position to have an interesting season.

MVP: Tommie Harris

No one is more important to this team than defensive tackle Tommie Harris.

Any kind of success the Bears might have is going to be due to the defense, and Harris is the most important part of that unit.

Lovie Smith better roll Harris up in Bubble Wrap every night if he wants to have any success in 2008.

Rookie of the Year: Matt Forte

When you’ve been anointed “the guy” on offense without ever playing a single snap of professional football, then you’re probably going to have a decent year.

The Bears seem to have one draft pick that plays above and beyond the expectations of a rookie, and it looks like Forte has the best chance of doing that. Also, look for safety Craig Steltz to potentially have a big year.

Biggest Disappointment: Devin Hester

Let’s get one thing straight; Devin Hester is the real deal, so I have tons of respect for his ability on the field.

Unfortunately, I’m finding it hard to believe that any person would be stupid enough to kick the ball anywhere near Hester after what he’s done the last two seasons.

Couple that with the pressure of being the No. 1 receiver, the offense’s lack of a QB and the expectations of his new mega-contract, and this season has all the makings of a disappointing statistical year for Hester.

He’s one of the best playmakers in the league, but it’s hard to get on the highlight reel when the other team won’t let you touch the ball.

Biggest Surprise: Brandon Lloyd

Because most opponents will be double-teaming Hester, there’s going to be an opportunity for another receiver to make plays with single coverage. I’m guessing that’s going to be former Illini standout and circus-catch specialist Brandon Lloyd. No one should expect big numbers from Lloyd, but he could be a solid midrange threat who will make plays on third down.

Biggest Distraction: Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo

The Bears could very easily open up the season 0-4 (if not worse) and the fans are sure to come out firing against Lovie and Angelo for putting together such an incomplete team.

These two guys have gotten a pass from the fans the last few years because of a strong defense and outstanding special teams, but the offense might be too unbearable to take.

Final Record: 6-10

The Bears have the 11th toughest schedule in 2008, which features runs through the NFC and AFC South divisions.

Compiling six wins is probably the most realistic result barring any major injuries to the defense.

If they do better (and I hope they do because I will gladly eat my words), then they have a chance of making it into the playoffs coming out of a Favre-less NFC North.

On the other hand, if they do worse, then the Bears might have an opportunity at drafting, oh, I don’t know … a guy named Tim Tebow. Ever heard of him?

But as we all know, anything can happen in the NFL, and I’m probably just another misinformed person walking around campus.

Kyle Betts is a graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected].