With Super Bowl Sunday having come and gone, Chicago will spend the days ahead wondering when the locals might make another appearance in the biggest game of all.
And it could be within a couple years.
You can't make the playoffs without an offense. You can't have an offense without a successful quarterback. And you can't have a successful quarterback without an offensive mind on staff.
The Bears finally have all three.
They have put together an attack worthy of winning big and need only to put a decent defense on the field in order to reach the NFC title game, maybe as soon as next season.
Now, much would have to go right in the next few months, but if they can find a major presence inside on the defensive line, an edge rusher and a play-making safety, the Bears could go from horrific to mediocre on defense in a hurry.
The wiseguys, despite the Bears' 8-8 record, have taken notice, and only nine teams have better odds than the Bears to win the Lombardi next year. All made the playoffs except for Atlanta, which went 4-12 after suffering injuries to its two superstar receivers, top running back and left tackle.
So much for your offense.
This is a cautionary tale as well. The Bears made it through the season healthy on offense -- outside of QB Jay Cutler -- and they'll need some help next season as that kind of luck can't be counted on again.
So, yes, the defense is a priority. If you can't get off the field on third down defensively -- the Bears were 25th this season -- it's tough to go far in the postseason, and much of the Bears' off-season will be devoted to rebuilding that side of the ball. But the Bears can't assume they'll be as fortunate without depth on offense.
The Atlanta Falcons, only 10 yards away from reaching the Super Bowl one year ago, can testify to that.
The Bears have work to do, but for the first time in a long time that light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train.
Odds on winning the 2015 Super Bowl: Denver (7-1), Seattle (7-1), San Francisco (8-1), New England (15-1), Green Bay (20-1), New Orleans (20-1), Atlanta (25-1), Carolina (25-1), Cincinnati (25-1), Bears (30-1), Arizona (30-1), Indianapolis (30-1), Kansas City (30-1) and Philadelphia (30-1).
While Illinois politicians -- namely the governor -- fiddle, gambling is on fire in neighboring states at racetracks that flourish with slots in the face of dying Illinois plants.
Those against it continue to argue that an expansion of gambling means an expansion of losing, which is absurd because people who want to gamble will find a way to spend -- and lose -- their money somewhere.
Just as an example, $100 million was bet legally on the Super Bowl last year in Las Vegas, while the total bet illegally in the U.S. was thought to be 10 times that much. No oversight, no tax and no revenue on that action.
A study in 2012 estimated that nearly $400 billion was wagered illegally on sports in the U.S., while $3.45 billion was legally bet in Nevada.
So while the politicians debate and stall, the money is being spent at a time when states like Illinois have never been more desperate for revenue.
Good luck trying to understand the logic.
Can't think of a more worthy man than Charles Tillman, who was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in New York on Saturday and lauded with an on-field ceremony before Sunday's Super Bowl.
Tillman's Cornerstone Foundation and its many programs, including Charles' Locker and the Tiana Fund, have distributed more than $1 million to at-risk and in-need families. Tillman and his wife, Jackie, also contribute their time and resources to local, national and international organizations.
Truly a well-deserved honor for quite an honorable man.
According to ticketcity.com, the March 1 contest at Soldier Field between the Blackhawks and Penguins will be the most expensive ticket of the Stadium Series, more than twice the Dodger Stadium game and the most expensive regular-season Hawks game ever.
With demand extraordinarily high, the average ticket on the secondary market is going for about $300, more than the Western Conference finals last year and about half what it would have cost to secure a seat to the Stanley Cup Final last June.
Freedom of speech
What we learned last week in New York from the pundits is that Richard Sherman talks too much and Marshawn Lynch doesn't talk enough. Make up your mind.
On the other hand, any time Brian Urlacher wants to stop talking -- really, any time at all -- is probably just fine with most of the planet.
Miami Herald's Greg Cote: "As spring training nears, a friend of Jeffrey Loria's said the Marlins owner has adopted a less meddling, more laid-back management style. An angry Loria immediately demoted the man from friend to acquaintance."
And finally …
This tweet from @TheFakeESPN: "Roger Goodell says medicinal marijuana will be evaluated, followed by an evaluation of all available flavors of Doritos Locos Tacos."
Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.