The Bears may have a fearsome run defense and an unpredictable offense for the playoffs, but they are lacking in one major area -- experience. This is particularly true on offense, where Chicago skews toward the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. Seven starters, including Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox, will be playing their first post-season game on Jan. 16.
The role of experience cannot be discounted in the playoffs. Of the last five teams to win the Super Bowl, four had been to the playoffs in the previous year. The last time the Bears went to the Super Bowl, they had been in the playoffs the year before. The speed of the game, crowd noise, stakes, media obligations and just the spotlight put on the team will be at a level most of the Bears have not seen.
The Bears are in the position of a recent college graduate. They need experience to win, but they have to win to get more experience.
Chicago's defense, on the other hand, has plenty of experience. Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher have 17 playoff games under their belt. In fact, all three have played in the Super Bowl. Chris Harris, Israel Idonije, Charles Tillman and Danieal Manning were all on the last Bears team to make the playoffs.
As they've done all season, it will be the defense's role to lead the offense in how to handle the postseason. If the offense listens to the D, then they'll rack up plenty of postseason experience in 2011.