It comes as no surprise that the Bears will begin the 2009 season on the road considering the report that U2 is to hold a concert at Soldier Field the day before the first Sunday of the NFL season. What is disturbing, though, is the number of consecutive seasons the Bears have begun their season on the road: five. Somebody in the NFL office doesn’t like the Bears. Although, all things considered, I’d rather the Bears finish the season at home than begin it there, and the Bears have done that three out of the last five seasons.
It’s important that the Bears get off on the right foot, though, particularly when they play a divisional opponent in prime time as they will do this year against Green Bay on Sept. 13. Last year, the Bears set the tone for their season by upsetting the Indianapolis Colts in prime time in front of a national audience and will look to repeat that performance in an even bigger contest this year.
The last time the Bears played the Packers on the opening weekend was in 2006 when they shut them out, 26-0, en route to a Super Bowl appearance that year. I wouldn’t expect to see a repeat of that performance against what I consider a better Green Bay team than the 2006 version, but they’ll need to make a statement early. Although Lovie Smith is 4-1 at Lambeau Field, his past two trips to the stadium weren’t very convincing. Last season, the Bears were trounced, 37-3, in Lovie’s most lopsided loss as a head coach. Two years ago, also on a Sunday night, it took an incredible second-half performance to complete a come-from-behind victory. If it hadn’t been for Mike McCarthy’s horrible coaching in the second half in which he took his foot off the pedal, the Bears likely would have lost that game.
But even in 2007, when the Bears played against the Chargers in San Diego, they still looked good for most of the game, so playing the season-opener on the road can not be used as an excuse for a poor performance.
Beginning the season 1-0 is a lot better than starting 0-1, that’s for sure.