The Bears' 2009 season was unremarkable.
The first game of the season set the tone - that's when Brian Urlacher left the nationally televised game with an injured wrist, which the next day was revealed to be dislocated.
Unceremoniously, Urlacher's season was over, and the Bears never seemed to recover from the loss of their defensive leader.
They played their way to a 7-9 record in uninspired fashion.
That mediocre 2009, though, might have given the Bears an edge in 2010. The Bears, like the Vikings and Packers, the two main contenders in their division, play the AFC East and the NFC East this season. But Chicago might be able to pick up two pretty important games on those two rivals when their two extra games (by virtue of a third-place finish) pit them against Seattle and Carolina. The Packers get likely division winners Falcons and 49ers, while the Vikings get the Saints and Arizona. That might swing some divisional momentum the Bears' way.
The Bears have taken steps to improve themselves this season, the last in head coach Lovie Smith's contract. I'm not exactly buying into Julius Peppers making a great impact on their defense - when he was being shopped around a couple of years ago all the talk was how he doesn't play to his potential all the time. He'll help them, but he's not the be-all, end-all. The Bears will benefit more from Urlacher's return.
Another interesting addition is offensive coordinator Mike Martz. He hasn't done much since the success of his Rams' 'Greatest Show on Turf', but Chicago's chances will skyrocket if he makes a connection with quarterback Jay Cutler and gets similar yardage and touchdown numbers from him as last year (3,666 yards with 27 TDs), but less interceptions (26). The Bears' backfield is a good one, where Chester Taylor was added to share Matt Forte's workload.
If the Bears get all of their new pieces to click, their 2010 season just might be remarkable.
2010 Prediction: 12-4, tied for 1st in NFC North (Wild Card, lose division on division record tiebreak)