Whether it be preseason or regular season, a team is subservient to the expectations table. When a team has expectations above their talent level, big trouble. When a squad has expectations below what their actual talent dictates, great things can happen.
Two teams that illustrate this factor meet tonight at Giants Stadium when New York hosts the Chicago Bears. Last year, the Bears were coming off four straight last place finishes in the NFC North Division. Even after the team acquired defensive standout Khalil Mack just before the regular season kicked off, fans were in a wait and see mode.
But, after vaulting the rest of their division to go from last to first, Chicago fans were out in spirited fashion as if it was 1985 all over again. When they opened the playoffs at home against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Bears were favored. When a medium distance field goal, 43-yards, is all that stood between them and advancing to the Divisional round of the postseason, the crowd at Soldier Field was on their feet.
Then, the kick missed, and the Bears 12-4 regular season ended with a Wild Card playoff game loss.
But, fear not, the success of last season, the addition of a couple key players, and the continued development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, has Chicago fans expecting this to be a big year.