Artificial Advantage

This season, the Bears will be playing sixteen road games. Eight will be in various U.S. cities, while the other half will be played in downstate Illinois.

The University of Illinois will be the new home of the Chicago Bears, a two and a half hour drive from Chicago, and a about a three hour drive from the Bears practice facility, Halas Hall.

The Bears can take comfort in the fact that they are not the first team to play their home games in a city other than their own. The Tennessee Titans played their 1998 home schedule in Memphis, Tennessee while practicing at their Nashville, Tennessee facility. Their current home, Adelphia Coliseum was still under construction at the time, therefore the Titans were forced to play their home games 210 miles away, about a three and a half hour drive.

What the Bears should not take comfort in was the fact that the talented Titans went just 8-8 and went 3-5 at "home" that year. Many Titans players admitted they became tired of the traveling every weekend, whether they were the home team, packing up that suitcase every Saturday night started to become a hassle.

Though the Titans struggled, hopefully the Bears will be able to learn from their mistakes and continue their winning ways of last year. Chicago will face the challenges of a first place schedule, and constant travel. Despite all this, there is a positive. The Bears will be playing at the University of Illinois, which has an artificial surface turf. Last year on turf, the Bears went 3-0 as their defense led the way giving up just nine points in three games. This year the Bears will be playing 13 of 16 games on turf. Bears defenders seem to be more effective in coverage with less slippage ultimately taking advantage of the overall team speed, especially at the linebacker position. The Bears 2002 season will be a bumpy one full of obstacles, a true test for an up and coming team.


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