The Chicago Bears are riding the wave of a productive offseason that was highlighted by a fruitful free agency period and a dynamite showing in the NFL Draft.
And yet, the oddsmakers aren’t completely sold on the Bears having the kind of turnaround season the team looks well-positioned to pull off.
Indeed, the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas is one of the premier sportsbooks in the world and has already shared its opening projected regular-season win totals for 2018:
Hot off the presses!!!
— Covers (@Covers) April 29, 2018
The Bears’ win total number opened up at 6.5, which is sensible, considering the team has won six games or fewer in each of the three years and hasn’t won at least seven games since 2014. Still, this sportsbook sees the Bears improving slightly under new head coach Matt Nagy directing things for second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. It’s just that it isn’t as optimistic as it could be.
So … is there a road to seven wins? Even eight? What about nine? The short answer: You betcha. Let’s discuss.
The Cardinals, Dolphins, and Jets are each opponents on the Bears’ schedule who are projected with a lower win total than Chicago. Toss in the Giants, Bills, and Buccaneers – each of whom have projected win totals of 6.5 just like the Bears – and we’re looking at six winnable games right off the bat. Feeling good? Well, hold onto those vibes because you’ll need them in a minute.
The Bears also play three games against two teams (twice against the Packers, once against the Patriots) with double-digit win projections. They will also play four games against three teams (Vikings twice; Rams and 49ers once) projected to win at least nine games in 2018. And then there are the three games against two teams (Lions twice, Seahawks once) predicted to win eight games.
With the help from a little back-of-the-envelope math, we’ll note that the Bears will play 62.5 percent of their games against teams projected to finish at .500 or better. That’s certainly one way to set the Bears’ number at 6.5 wins. But let’s show a little (cautious) optimism here.
Let’s say the Bears take care of business against the teams they should beat – Arizona, Miami, and New York’s AFC team. That’s a good start on the road to a non-losing season. Taking two of three from the teams sitting at 6.5 (Bills, Giants, Bucs) would give the Bears as many wins as they did last season. Going 5-1 in winnable games would leave the Bears with 10 chances to find three more wins to get to .500.
It’s getting easier to talk yourself into an 8-win season, isn’t it? If not, keep following along and you might change your mind.
As we noted above, there are three games against two teams with projected win totals of 8. Two of those games will be played at Soldier Field. If the Bears can pick up home wins against the Seahawks and Lions, we can conceivably come to a 7-win season. And now, this leaves the Bears seven games against some of the teams expected to be the NFL’s best to win one and get to .500 for the first time since 2014.
Here is the breakdown of these games:
- HOME: Packers, Vikings, Patriots, Rams
- AWAY: Packers, Vikings, 49ers
This is where it gets dicey.
The Bears will almost certainly be underdogs against each of those teams, including the home games against Green Bay, Minnesota, New England, and Los Angeles. The Bears haven’t won on the road against the Vikings since they opened their new stadium, and traveling west is always a chore. Beating the Packers at Lambeau Field has never been a walk in the park, and the fact they are 4-2 in divisional games played in September since the start of 2014 isn’t going inspire much confidence.
All things considered, the oddsmakers have the Bears’ over/under win total pegged a little too accurately for my liking. HOWEVER, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this team out-performs its projection. A cursory glance at the schedule gives the Bears a fighting chance at an 8-8 season, which would be the first on-field sign that things are actually going in the right direction for this organization.