Winning season follows when Bears open with a win
The Bears enter Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts with a 4-4 record in season openers under Lovie Smith.
Their fortunes have, for the most part, followed their performance in Game 1.
Since Smith took over in 2004, the Bears have never had a losing record after winning their opener, going a combined 41-23 in the four seasons they began with a victory.
When they lose Game 1, the Bears have finished with a losing record three of four years, going a combined 30-34.
"That first game, you just can't wait to get to it," Smith said. "I love playing the first game at home, getting the crowd into it."
It would have been difficult for Smith to come up with a more advantageous scenario to start the season, even if he were the NFL's schedule-maker.
The Bears are 10-point favorites over the Colts, who are coming off a 2-14 season and will start rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in this year's draft. Luck finished the preseason with an impressive 89.3 passer rating, completing 62.1 percent of his passes.
"Luck is a heck of a player," said Smith, who was asked if his team would show Luck a few things he didn't see in the preseason.
"That is probably safe to say," the Bears' coach said.
Luck was sacked just three times in the preseason, but the Bears will make more of an effort to get to him than they would a veteran quarterback.
"The preseason is not as fast as the regular season," said Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who plans to play the entire game after missing the preseason with a knee injury.
"I think a lot of quarterbacks might get used to that preseason speed, especially young guys, and Luck has never played in a regular-season game before. Once you hit the regular season, it speeds up a little bit."
But the Bears aren't expected to radically change the way they play defense. Their belief is that they have the talent and the scheme, if played properly, to go a long way without resorting to gimmicks.
A victory over the Colts would be a start, but they expect to accomplish a lot more after that.
"I think the talent is definitely there," said nine-year veteran defensive end Israel Idonije. "The potential is definitely there. But at the end of the day, all that doesn't matter. It comes down to what we're able to accomplish not just this Sunday but for the next 16 games.
"That's the focus. We do have the ability, the talent, all those things. Now it comes down to putting it together -- offense, defense, special teams -- and just taking it one step at a time."
Against the Colts, the Bears have an excellent opportunity to get off on the right foot.