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Article posted: 10/26/2012 5:15 AM

Bears can march through the NFC

By

Excuse me if I call the Chicago Bears team an exciting bunch.

Between points from turnovers and a big-time passing game, they are a team running on all cylinders.

I was skeptical about wide receiver Brandon Marshall, but he has played great football. Quarterback Jay Cutler seems to have command of the offense. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice will be a head coach sooner than later. Matt Forte is as dependable as a running back can be.

But during this win streak, the one major concern has been the offensive line. I had predicted a close game between Detroit and Chicago on Monday night, and I reasoned the Lion's defensive line would beat up the Bears offensive line and they did.

But the Bears line didn't play bad enough to cost them a victory because they came up big at the right times.

The bigger story is the defense. Brian Urlacher is a middle linebacker who actually has played better as he has gotten older. The stud on his left, Lance Briggs, better be a Pro Bowler again this year. I can't imagine another linebacker playing at his level.

The third man in the defense's holy trinity, Charles "Peanut" Tillman, is the best Bears cornerback in history. He's a turnover machine and a solid pro.

Think of all the Bears who started on defense as cornerbacks -- Alan Ellis, Richie Petitbon, Donnell Woolford and a few others were great, but Tillman is the best.

Special teams, with Robbie Gould and Devin Hester, are more than reliable.

The thing I love most is every unit is all business. They play hard and disciplined football. Lovie Smith has improved as a coach and appears calm in the face of a storm. When was the last time you saw a player get in his face like Ahmad Bradshaw did to head coach Tom Coughlin recently in the New York Giants/Washington game?

Smith lets the players play, he doesn't get in the way, and manages the game beautifully.

I said a few weeks back the San Francisco 49ers were getting too much credit, and nobody was talking about the Bears.

There is only one NFC team that can give the Bears a game. Seven weeks into the season, it would be the Giants. I watch a lot of football so I can say after those two teams there is no one else close -- not the Green Bay Packers, not the 49ers or anyone else.

If the Bears want to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, then the road they will have to go through is New York.

Barring injury, the good news is they look capable at least of playing in the NFC championship.

Let's enjoy the ride; it looks like it's going to be a good one.

NFL picks:

I went 1-1 last week. My record is 9-8-1 on the season.

This week, I like Pittsburgh (-5) over Washington. RG3 is playing great, but Pittsburgh wins by 7.

I also like Dallas in a pick 'em game over the New York Giants. Tony Romo out duels Eli Manning in the house that Jerry Jones built.

Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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