What to Expect
The Bears have essentially been in a rebuilding mode for the last few seasons. The last time they were in the playoffs, we were talking about a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they came up short in the 2010 NFC Title Game, against the Green Bay Packers. The question now is, when are we going to be talking about the playoffs for the Bears again? Could it be this season? They traded up to draft Mitchell Trubisky, who they might see as a potential franchise QB. However, even if Trubisky turns out to be a successful investment, it may take a few years for him to develop, considering that he will have to adapt to playing NFL defenses. Now, the Bears might have something special in RB Jordan Howard, but is he going to prove to be a guy that you can build the team around? To even discuss the possibility of a long-awaited return to the playoffs as early as this season, they need to maximize their potential on offense, and stay consistent on the defensive side. It starts with Jordan Howard increasing his efficiency and becoming more of a dual-threat in the passing game, being able to catch it out of the backfield more consistently and adding more dimensions to his game. Now, if Kevin White can finally avoid the injury bug this season, the Bears are going to give defenses a more difficult time. Whether it is Trubisky or Glennon starting Week 1, the QB in this offensive system needs to have the consistent support of the run game, and start generating some chemistry with his blossoming wide receivers, considering that Alshon Jeffery is not on the roster anymore. Expect a team with a middle-of-the-pack type of record, an offense that still has some exploration to do, and a defense that can take off with another year of development in the books for Leonard Floyd.
With Jeffery out of the way, we get to see if Kevin White, along with Cameron Meredith, can truly make this WR group great again. It as seen as somewhat of a strength with Jeffery. I feel that White and Meredith are under the radar right now and can blossom with some consistency at QB. Unfortunately, White has not yet played a full season in the NFL. His style reminds me of a Deandre Hopkins type of player. This season, we are going to find out whether he will stay injury prone and be more like Keenan Allen, or whether he can explore his potential. In addition, Jordan Howard looks like the feature back that they want in Chicago. He serves well as a workhorse back, but I need to see some more dynamic play out of him, because I see the potential with him to be an elite RB in this league. Right now, he is hovering around the top-10 tier of RB’s, but can he become one of the best in the league? The main points of emphasis on offense this year are going to be if Kevin White / Cameron Meredith can break out, and whether a sufficient amount of consistency can be sustained at QB, whether it is from Glennon, or from Trubisky.
The Bears have a gem on this defense, and that’s Leonard Floyd. He is a player that you can really build your defense around. His pass rushing is borderline elite, and he can still improve in coverage. We saw last season, just how successful he was, playing alongside Trevathan and McPhee. A great sense of direction for this team on defense would be to continue to build the scheme around this LB core. The group is fairly explosive, and the defensive line generates just enough pressure where the linebackers generally don’t have that much of a problem getting to the QB. Leonard Floyd is going to keep developing, and his game is looking like it is going to continually evolve. Moreover, the secondary with Amos, Demps, Fuller, and company, is pretty solid, can’t complain too much there, but we will see how they improve this season. Continue to build this defense around Leonard Floyd, place the emphasis on rushing the passer, and see just how much potential there is in this defense.
Best Case Scenario: 9-7
Leonard Floyd steps up in a monstrous way and the defense flourishes. Kevin White stays healthy, and is able to form a nice duo with Cameron Meredith. Jordan Howard improves, and some consistency at QB is found. The Bears find themselves competing for a playoff spot.
Worst Case Scenario: 6-10
The Bears defense stays solid but doesn’t showcase any legitimate improvement. Kevin White gets injured before the Bye Week, and the Bears struggle to choose between Glennon and Trubisky all season long, limiting the chemistry on offense.
Schedule walk through
Week 1: vs. Falcons
Home opener for the Bears here, as they come out and please the home crowd. The Falcons are still recovering from their loss in the Super Bowl, and come up short, despite a phenomenal game by Julio Jones.
W 24-23 Bears (1-0)
Week 2: @ Buccaneers
Even without Doug Martin, the Bucs have no problem taking care of business here. Mike Evans torches the Bears’ secondary and that is that. Tough loss after an exciting home opener.
L 27-17 Falcons (1-1)
Week 3: vs. Steelers
The Steelers come to Soldier Field and have a field day. The Bears are still shaken from that tough loss to the Bucs. The Steelers’ star power on offense serves to be too much. Bell has an average game, but Antonio Brown is able to do his thing.
L 31-21 Steelers (1-2)
Week 4: @ Packers
The Bears show up to play and are able to get pressure on Rodgers all game long. Unfortunately, the tough environment of Lambeau prevails and Rodgers is able to hit a dagger in the 4th quarter to seal the deal, barely escaping the Bears.
L 21-13 Packers (1-3)
Week 5: vs. Vikings
Monday Night Football. Energetic home crowd. The Bears take care of business against the Vikings. The Bears beat the Vikings last year at home on MNF, and I don’t see why they can’t do it again.
W 23-13 Bears (2-3)
Week 6: @ Ravens
Jordan Howard rushes for over 100 yards, and they pull the upset in Baltimore. Joe Flacco throws for 2 interceptions and struggles against the pass rush. This team is back on track at .500
W 27-10 Bears (3-3)
Week 7: vs. Panthers
Christian McCaffrey creates too many mismatches, as he catches it out of the backfield too many times this game for the Bears to handle. The Bears offense surprisingly is stagnant for most of the game, as Jordan Howard can’t get going this week. They struggle to move the chains as a result.
L 24-14 Panthers (3-4)
Week 8: @ Saints
Kevin White and Cameron Meredith expose the Saints’ secondary and have a field day. This game is a shootout from the beginning. They leave with a good feeling heading into their Bye Week.
W 38-31 Bears (4-4)
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10: vs. Packers
Last season, the Packers barely escaped Soldier Field, winning by just a field goal. This time, after a heartbreaking loss at Lambeau, early in the season, the Bears are finally able to get over the hump. After an extra week of rest, Meredith and White demolish the Packers’ secondary in the second half. Rodgers has the ball in his hand in the 4th quarter, looking for the dagger touchdown pass to win the game, but this time the Bears are prepared for it and stop it from happening. The Packers are shocked. The Bears pull off the upset.
W 23-20 Bears (5-4)
Week 11: vs. Lions
Jordan Howard has no problem, as he rushes for over 100 yards again. But, late in the 4th quarter, Stafford and company shock the Vikings with their 4th quarter magic, and barely escape Soldier Field with the win.
L 24-21 Lions (5-5)
Week 12: @ Eagles
Still a little shaken from their last game, the Bears struggle to move the chains. Jeffery is able to do a decent job and get the win against his former team. Since pulling the upset in Lambeau, it looks like the Bears have lost their momentum.
L 24-13 Eagles (5-6)
Week 13: vs. 49ers
Back at home, the Bears have no problem with the 49ers. Kevin White has a field day and Howard moves the chains with ease.
W 27-10 Bears (6-6)
Week 14: @ Bengals
Back on the road, this team struggles a bit on defense against the Bengals. A.J. Green catches two touchdowns and the Bears couldn’t keep up in the shootout, as they struggled to contain Green.
L 34-24 Bengals (6-7)
Week 15: @ Lions
Close game, but the Lions’ home crowd helps them get the win. Howard rushes for over 100 yards, but Golden Tate has no problem either and ends up going for over 100 yards as well.
L 20-17 Lions (6-8)
Week 16: vs. Browns
No trouble here, as the Bears’ defense pressures the Browns into 3 momentum-killing turnovers.
W 27-10 Bears (7-8)
Week 17: @ Vikings
The Bears get the best of the Vikings yet again, as the Vikings are pressured into 2 turnovers. Floyd is limited this game but the Bears get it done.
W 23-17 Bears (8-8)
Kevin White avoids a major injury this season, and is able to maintain consistency alongside Cameron Meredith.
Kevin White (if he can stay healthy)
Don’t be too surprised if he has over 1000 receiving yards this season.
Final Record Prediction: 8-8
Expect the Chicago Bears to improve this season. With a solid defense, more consistency at QB, great production from Howard, and a healthy Kevin White, potential is all over this team. The Bears might just find themselves competing for a playoff spot this season if they can pull off a few more upsets on the road.