While the Chicago Bears are on a bye-week, the team is being evaluated through their first eight games of the season. The Bears had arguably the toughest opening half in the NFL playing elite teams including the Falcons, Packers, Steelers, Panthers, Vikings, and Saints. Not predicted to be contending this year, the Bears sit at 3-5 with a few games they lost but could have won. Overall they have been competitive, and much of that can be attributed to their strong defense.

Akiem Hicks is among the strongest on the defensive side of the ball and has arguably been the team's MVP.

Hicks in his second year with Chicago has made the most of his playing time on the defensive line. His contributions have helped lead the front seven in constantly putting pressure on the other team's quarterback and holding opposing teams under 25 points five of the last six games.

Hicks' contributions

Hicks (27) has played in all eight games so far and has recorded seven sacks, 20 solo tackles, six assists and one recovered fumble. He is averaging 2.5 tackles a game on the line and is averaging about a sack per game. His seven sacks through eight games have already tied his career high in a season as he recorded seven in all 16 games last season. If he keeps this pace, he could very well pass his career high in solo tackles (36) as well this season.

Staying healthy and keeping Pace should absolutely result in Pro Bowl honors.

It was just before the season started when Hicks got a big four-year, $48 million contract extension with the Bears. He will be under control in Chicago for more seasons to come, and so far he is proving to be worth every penny. At the age of 27, Hicks brings a veteran experience while still being young enough to have plenty in the tank.

The Bears are getting him in his prime years.

Bears bye-notes

The Bears will prepare to face the rival Green Bay Packers next week at Soldier Field. However, with Aaron Rodgers on IR, he will not be playing in next week's game. Mitchell Trubisky will face the Packers for the first time in his career, and will finally have receiver Dontrelle Inman to throw to.

The Bears seek their first win against the Packers at Soldier Field since 2010.

Zach Miller continues to recover from his emergency leg surgery last week. He was rushed to the hospital after dislocating his knee and damaging arteries in his leg. Much credit is given to the Bears medical staff who identified the problem in Miller's knee right away because the injury was life-threatening.