Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
I was somewhat surprised that Jay Cutler didn't make the Pro Bowl since most of the quarterbacks selected weren't able to play in it. Do you think it was a snub and that he deserved to play in it over guys like Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater?
I'm obviously not impartial, but I do think that Jay Cutler deserved to go to the Pro Bowl ahead of some of the replacements who were selected at quarterback. His 92.3 passer rating in 2015 was higher than three of the quarterbacks who will be playing in the game in the Raiders' Derek Carr (91.1), the Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater (88.7) and the Buccaneers' Jameis Winston (84.2). Cutler didn't throw for as many yards (3,659) or touchdowns (21) as Carr (3,987 and 32) or Winston (4,042 and 22), but they were significantly more than Bridgewater (3,231 and 14). Cutler also reduced his interceptions from 18 in 2014 to 11 in 2015. Given how he performed in a new offense with an injury-depleted receiving corps, I feel that Cutler should have been named to the Pro Bowl at least as a replacement this season, especially with five of the six quarterbacks originally selected unable to play in the Cardinals' Carson Palmer, the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, the Panthers' Cam Newton and the Patriots' Tom Brady.
It seems like the Bears have a much easier schedule in 2016 than they had in 2015. Where do they rank in terms of strength of schedule?
Based on 2015 records, the Bears will have the second easiest schedule in the NFL in 2016, facing opponents that combined for a .461 winning percentage (118-138). The Packers are the only team that will have an easier schedule, with a slate of opponents that went 117-139. That's a little misleading, though, because it obviously accounts for the two games between the Bears and Packers in 2016 and the fact that the Bears went 6-10 and the Packers were 10-6 in 2015. Bears opponents in 2016 had a point differential of minus-502 in 2015, by far the worst in the NFL.
I know this isn't Bears-related, but what's your prediction for the Super Bowl?
Des Moines, Iowa
I'm going to say the Panthers win 34-17. I think Carolina and quarterback Cam Newton will continue to perform at a high level and I see the Panthers defense forcing Peyton Manning and the Broncos into some costly turnovers. I also think that Carolina will have a much better plan to protect the quarterback than the Patriots did in the AFC Championship Game.