Bears are Super Bowl contenders

Five reasons Chicago is a serious contender to reach New Orleans

Originally Published: August 14, 2012
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Jay Cutler and Brandon MarshallJerry Lai/US PresswireJay Cutler, right, and Brandon Marshall give the Chicago Bears a dynamic QB-WR combo.

Teams normally shy away from predicting Super Bowl success in the preseason, but that usual admonition didn't prevent Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall from telling fans at a recent scrimmage that the Bears will go to the Super Bowl.

One might think Marshall would face some backlash for making a vocal declaration of that caliber about a team with only one playoff win and two winning seasons since 2007.

The reason Marshall hasn't received any push-back is that he is spot-on in his assessment. A variety of metric and scouting elements show that Chicago has done a superb job of setting itself up to be a Super Bowl contender.

Jay Cutler and Marshall give Chicago a great 1-2 passing punch

Not since the 1985 Bears tandem of Jim McMahon and Willie Gault have the Bears had a quarterback/wide receiver combination the caliber of Cutler and Marshall.

This passing offense's performance also was close to topflight on downfield throws last season. That Cutler ranked 11th in vertical yards per attempt (VYPA, which measures productivity on aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield) with a receiving corps largely consisting of Johnny Knox, Roy Williams, Dane Sanzenbacher, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett speaks well to his downfield passing prowess.

In the past, there might have been a question about Marshall's ability to improve a team's vertical production, because his 8.5 VYPA over the 2008 and 2009 seasons ranked 52nd out of 57 receivers who saw 48 or more targets in that time frame.


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