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Bet on the NFL With the Bears coming off of a tough loss to the Green Bay Packers this past weekend, the Chicago team is looking to the future.

Despite the 21-14 loss over their archrivals from Wisconsin, the Bears are looking to lock in Lovie Smith as head coach and continue his contract, along with much of his staff.

Smith has a record of 63-49 as the head of the Chicago Bears. The most astounding fact of this year for the Bears is the low -- almost nonexistant -- expectations that were held for the team at the beginning of the NFL season. Many predicted the team would not even make it to the playoffs in 2011. Some famous forecasts even called for the Chicago football team ending the season with a record of 1-15, or equally abysmal numbers.

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The Bears defense carried the team throughout the year, focusing on All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers. Linebacker Brian Urlacher also contributed to the Bears defense, making the team very effective at shutting down opposing football squads. This defense carried the team through the regular season, playoffs, and to within one game of the 2011 Super Bowl.

This would have been the first time since 2007 that the Bears had shown up at the Super Bowl. In 2007, the Bears were crushed in Super Bowl XLI by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, whose head coach was Tony Dungy. This was the first year that any African-American head coach had made it to the Super Bowl, and both teams had African American head coaches.

So what's next for the Bears? After overcoming all expectations in 2010-2011, the plan is obviously to keep Lovie Smith in his position as head coach and try to build upon this years successes. Because the Bears are the Bears, they may be chronically underranked in preseason football odds. But as this most recent season has shown, even the underappreciated Chicago team may have a few surprises for everyone in the years ahead.


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