When it comes to blending excitement with gloom over sports teams, no place does it better than Chicago.
So our town is in somewhat of a frenzy over the start of Bears' camp Friday at Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais, which most apparently expect to lead to a mediocre season — at best.
Some might have a hard time understanding this because it's a bit puzzling there are not higher expectations for this team.
The Bears won 10 games one year ago.
They improved the most significant problem area with the addition of a Pro Bowl left tackle, a first-round draft pick and a gutsy veteran to the offensive line.
They brought in another playmaker in the passing game to detract attention from Brandon Marshall and create matchup problems.
Yet the Bovada betting website has the over/under victory total for the Bears at 81/2. The over/under victory total for the Lions, who won six fewer games than the Bears last year, is 8.
The Bears' record in 2012 was as good or better than that of 24 teams. Yet only 20 teams have been given longer odds to win the Super Bowl than the Bears' 28-1.
Tribune Newspapers NFL reporter Sam Farmer rated the Bears 12th out of 16 NFC teams, behind one nine-win team (Giants), one eight-win team (Cowboys) and three seven-win teams (Bucs, Rams and Saints), among others.
There are three primary reasons why there are doubts about the Bears.
Doubting Trestman is fear of the unknown.
Smith was like a familiar old house. We knew every nook and cranny. There were absolutely no surprises with Smith, ever.
Trestman is new construction, and many fans feel they don't know what's behind the drywall. We might have known who Trestman was as an offensive coordinator and as a Canadian Football League head coach. But no one really knows who he will be as an NFL head coach.
The second reason is the defense is getting gray as steel. The three most established playmakers on the Bears defense are 32 or older. At some point, those years are going to take away just enough ability to become a problem.
And on the subject of taking away, last season this defense was all about interceptions and fumble recoveries. If the takeaways don't keep coming in waves, the defense is likely to decline.
The third reason you can doubt the Bears is they play in what I believe is the NFL's best division, the NFC North. They can be a better team than last year and have worse results if the Packers, Vikings and Lions make bigger gains.
But there are some things I really like about this Bears team.
The first is the Bears have Jay Cutler exactly where they want him — on the last year of his deal. If he doesn't get in line and stay in line, he is gone, as is his chance to be one of the better-paid players in the league. If he plays as well as he can, both he and the Bears win big.
And Cutler has a lot of company in the "prove it" camp. Among others who will be in the final years of their contracts are James Anderson, Sedrick Ellis, Roberto Garza, Robbie Gould, Kelvin Hayden, Devin Hester, Tim Jennings, Henry Melton, Matt Slauson, Tillman, J'Marcus Webb, D.J. Williams, Corey Wootton and Major Wright.
So there will be no lack of individual motivation on this team.
There also should be no lack of a running game.
Not much attention has been paid to it, but it's one area in which the Bears should be better. They weren't bad running last year, as their 1,970 ground yards ranked 10th in the NFL.
But they left a lot of rushing yards on the field, and they should leave fewer now. Michael Bush won't be playing with a broken shoulder anymore. And the interior of the offensive line appears physically more powerful that it did at any time one year ago with the additions of guards Slauson and first-round draft pick Kyle Long.
And there is one more reason for optimism. Just as there is reason to suspect some of the older players could slip, there is reason to believe some of the younger players could step up. Among those who could take their games to another level are Chris Conte, Alshon Jeffery, Shea McClellin, Wootton and Wright.
So ultimately, the 2013 Bears may be getting sold a little short. Not that you should be more excited or anything.