The Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears will meet for the 42nd time ever on Sunday. The Colts lead the all-time series 23-18.
The Bears are 6-1 in their last seven home openers. The Colts have lost their last two road openers.
The Bears defeated the Colts the last time the two teams played in 2008, 29-13. In that game, a then rookie Matt Forte ran 23 times for 123 yards, which included a 50-yard touchdown run.
The Bears are coming off a disappointing 8-8 season. They finished third in the NFC North despite posting a 7-3 record after 11 weeks of play. Jay Cutler suffering a season-ending thumb injury plagued the season for Chicago and Matt Forte going down soon thereafter basically ended it right there.
The Colts finished 2-14 with a mixture of Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins and Dan Orlovsky under center.
The Colts are a much different team. They are relying on a rookie QB in Andrew Luck and an up-and-down running back Donald Brown on the ground.
The Bears know they need to pressure the young Luck in order to come away with a good result.
On the opposite end, the Colts defense doesn’t really scare its opponents. With Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis returning as the stars of this defense they will be looked upon to be just that.
The Bears won’t have a tough time moving the ball down the field on this unit. New Bears WR Brandon Marshall reeled in a record 21 catches against the Colts, while playing with the Broncos in 2009, so he knows a thing or two about being successful against Indy.
Brian Urlacher (knee), Adam Podlesh (hip) and Chris Conte (shoulder) all participated fully in practice on Friday and are probable for the game. RB Lorenzo Booker is questionable (head) after missing practice all week.
It will be interesting to see if Podlesh plays or the Bears decide to go with rookie Ryan Quigley. Chris Conte could be tested by the Colts offense at times, so its crucial for him to be comfortable back there or you’ll see a good dose of Craig Steltz sooner rather than later.
I’m glad to see football is back and I’m sure you guys are as well. The first Sunday of football is upon us, that means you should be asking yourself who are we looking for to have big games for the Bears.
Players Who Must Step Up.
1. Israel Idonije- The expectations are high right now for rookie defensive end Shea McClellin, but you can’t expect too much from him in his first NFL game. Israel Idonije has been there plenty of times and knows in order to keep his job he needs to take pressure off of Julius Peppers. Expect Idonije to have a big game whether its from the outside or inside of that defensive line.
Projections: Five tackles, 1.0 sack, fumble recovery.
2. Lance Briggs- The veteran linebacker got the money he wanted in the off-season and is very focused on the goal ahead this season. With Brian Urlacher not at 100%, its up to Briggs to stop the run and control his area of the field just in case something does go wrong. Look for Briggs to play lights out because honestly the Bears are looking for him to step up.
Projections: 10 tackles.
3. Kellen Davis- Davis isn’t the fastest of the Bears 2012 tight end, but he should see some open looks towards the middle of the field with Brandon Marshall getting most of the attention. Don’t be shocked to see him have a pretty good day as well as rookie Evan Rodriguez who should be in as an H-back for parts of the game.
Projections: Five catches, 48 yards.
Final score predictions
Jake Perper: Bears 27, Colts 13.
Matt Eurich: Bears 24, Colts 13.
Weather.com weather forecast:
The lakefront should see partly cloudy skies for most of the day with a high of 70 degrees and a low of 58. The weather shouldn’t be a big factor in this one.
Jake Perper is the owner and head writer for Bearsbacker.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Bears.