The Chicago Bears woke me up with the acquisition of Jared Allen, the defensive end free agent from Minnesota.
Now the Bears have two bookends on defense with the pickup of Lamar Houston and, of course, Allen.
Bears fans talk plenty about the offense and what's wrong with it, but the broken defense was the real problem last season. It was one of the worst ever for the Bears, and the problems needed to be addressed.
If the Bears can stay healthy, I am happy to say they have a much better shot at the playoffs today than they did two weeks ago.
Allen is a stud as a pass rusher, but he is considered weak against the run. When you are trying to rush the quarterback and you are double teamed, some part of your game is going to suffer.
The linebackers are important in stopping the run, especially when they are taking on the offensive line. While I think Allen needs to find some balance in his game to stop the run and the quarterback, he is a step up from Julius Peppers, who slept through most of last year, and was too quiet to be considered a defensive leader.
With the four-year, $15.5 million signing of Allen, the Bears are getting a vocal and spiritual leader.
The Bears didn't have enough attitude on defense last year, and if they did it was passive. That will change with Allen.
Congrats to the Bears front office staff and general manager Phil Emery for swooping in -- seemingly out of nowhere -- to get him.
Bulls can run with Pacers:
The No. 1 seed Indiana Pacers and the No 2 seed Miami Heat game this week was hyped as a big contest.
I have a question for Bulls fans: do you really fear the Pacers? I say you shouldn't. I am grinning if the scenario for winning calls for going through the Pacers.
The other night the Pacers played a physical game similar to what the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons would try against the six-time championship Chicago Bulls. It didn't work then, and it won't work now.
The team with the superstar -- Miami with LeBron James -- will probably win the East. James has been whacked, kicked, punched, tripped and abused, and that will continue into the playoffs, but it won't stop LeBron.
The Heat will prevail -- just like other teams did with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
The common denominator for these champions is obvious -- they had superstars, and the Heat has two with LeBron and Dwyane Wade. If the Pacers had LeBron they would be the best team, as would the Bulls if he was wearing the red and black uniform.
If you're the Bulls, you know you can beat the Pacers, but the Heat are the real question mark.
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• 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.