The Marc Trestman experiment was a complete failure. Prior to Trestman coming to town, the Chicago Bears were coming off a 10-6 season that had them just on the doorstep of the playoffs. The Bears went just 8-8 in Trestman’s first year on the job and plummeted to last in the NFC North in 2014 at 5-11.

Chicago replaced Trestman with John Fox, whose inability to win the postseason cost him his job with the Denver Broncos, despite a 38-10 record in the regular season the last 4 years. Fox has led both the Panthers and Broncos to the Super Bowl appearances and will look to do the same with the Bears.

While Bears fans will be optimistic about the teams’ chances in 2015, the reality is that it’s going to take some time to get this franchise turned around, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where they will be transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

Last Season
NFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
4th
5-11
7-9
3-5
4-4
8-8
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
21st
30th
-5
19.9
27.6
2014 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Kevin White (WR), Eddie Goldman (DT), Hroniss Grasu (C), Jeremy Langford (RB), Adrian Amos (FS), Tayo Fabuluje (OT)
Additions
Pernell McPhee (LB), Antrel Rolle (SS), Jarvis Jenkins (DE), Mason Foster (MLB), Sam Acho (OLB), Vladimir Ducasse (OG), Ray McDonald (DE), Will Montgomery (C), Jacquizz Rodgers (RB), Eddie Royal (WR), Alan Ball (CB)
Losses
Brandon Marshall (WR), Lance Briggs (OLB), Charles Tillman (CB), Stephen Paea (DT), Chris Conte (FS), Eben Britton (OT), Roberto Garza (C), D.J. Williams (MLB), Dante Rosario (TE), Josh Morgan (WR), Jay Feely (K), Brian De La Puente (C)
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Packers +4 0.34
2 Cardinals +1 0.49
3 @ Seahawks +9 0.19
4 Raiders -6 0.71
5 @ Chiefs +4 0.34
6 @ Lions +5 0.32
7 BYE
8 Vikings -2 0.53
9 @ Chargers +4 0.34
10 @ Rams +4.5 0.33
11 Broncos +2.5 0.45
12 @ Packers +7.5 0.22
13 49ers +1 0.49
14 Redskins -4 0.66
15 @ Vikings +2.5 0.45
16 @ Buccaneers -1.5 0.53
17 Lions PK 0.50
Estimated Wins: 6.89
Roster Breakdown

Chicago’s offense didn’t come close to putting up the kind of numbers that you would expect given the talent they have at both the quarterback and skill positions. The Bears finished a mere 21st in total offense (327.1 ypg) and 23rd in scoring (19.9 ppg).

It has to be frustrating for Bears’ fans to watch Jay Cutler, who is one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the NFL from a talent standpoint, but lacks the mental makeup to be an elite signal caller. Cutler threw for a respectable 3,812 yards and 28 touchdowns, but also turned it over 24 times (18 interceptions). Poor decision making coupled with a bad attitude has plagued Cutler’s once promising career.

Chicago is hoping that a fresh start under new offensive coordinator Adam Gase can get the quarterback to play up to his potential. Gase came over with Fox from Denver, despite getting offers to be a head coach this past offseason.

The key to Gase getting the most out of Cutler and the Bears’ offense, will be the play up front on the offensive line. Chicago suffered numerous injuries to an offensive line that wasn’t very good to begin with and that certainly played a part in Cutler racking up the turnovers. Outside of drafting Oregon center Hroniss Grasu in the 3rd round and adding in free agent center Will Montgomery from the Broncos, little was done to help bolster a clear weakness. Jermon Bushrod is an average at best left tackle and right tackle Jordan Mills is a liability. They do have to solid guards in Kyle Long and Matt Slauson, but the unit as a whole remains a major question mark.

The passing game will once feature dynamic young wide Alshon Jeffery, who had 85 catches for a team-high 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns, as well as talented tight end Martellus Bennett. They won’t however, have Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Jets. You could argue that the Bears made an addition by subtraction with Marshall, but they went ahead and used their 1st round pick on West Virginia’s Kevin White, who has the potential to develop into a star. They also added in slot receiver Eddie Royal, who is coming off a strong year with the San Diego Chargers.

The poor play up front on the offensive line and aging running back in Matt Forte, had the Bears finishing 2014 ranked 27th in the league in rushing (90.1 ypg). Forte did rush for over 1,000 yards and caught a team-high 102 passes for 808 yards, but is not the same big-play threat he once was. Forte will remain the feature back, but keep an eye out for Michigan State rookie Jeremy Langford, who I think was a steal when Chicago nabbed him in the 4th round.

While the offense certainly has the potential to surprise and put up some big numbers, there’s major concerns with whether or not the defense will be able to make enough stops to win many games. Adding a defensive-minded head coach in Fox and a proven defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio is a big step in the right direction, but it typically takes more than 1 offseason to successfully transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

Keep in mind the Bears were atrocious defensively last season, ranking 30th in total defense (377.1 ypg) and 31st in scoring defense (27.6 ppg). The key to a 3-4 scheme working is a talented nose tackle to eat up space and blocks in the middle. Chicago will likely use some sort of combination between veteran Jay Ratliff and 2nd round rookie Eddie Goldman out of Florida State. Goldman has the makeup to develop into a solid nose tackle, but defensive lineman rarely excel in their first year.

Chicago brought in free agent Jarvis Jenkins to take over at one of the 3-4 defensive end spots and had hoped the other would be filled by 49ers cast off Ray McDonald, but he was released before training camp. That leaves a couple of 2nd year players in Ego Ferguson and Brandon Dunn competing for a starting spot.

One of the biggest questions that face the Bears defense is how will the likes of 4-3 defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young transition to playing a 3-4 outside linebacker. Chicago seems to have concerns over their ability to excel in their new role, as they brought in free agents Sam Acho and Pernell McPhee. Chances are they will be just fine on the outside, but things don’t look as promising at inside linebacker where some combination of Mason Foster, Jonathan Bostic, Shea McClellin and Christian Jones will need to step up and play well

The secondary features promising young corner Kyle Fuller, who showed flashes of his potential as a rookie, as well as veteran corner Tim Jennings. The concern is the lack of depth behind Fuller and Jennings. If either gets hurt, the Bears are in big trouble. Veteran safety Antrel Rolle was added in the offseason, but he’s on the backend of his career and didn’t play well last year with the New York Giants. Brock Vereen, Ryan Mundy and 5th round rookie Adrian Amos will compete for the starting spot at free safety.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl L
7
27 to 1
68 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes
Projections

If Gase can somehow get Cutler to play up to his potential, the offensive line stays healthy and the defense surprises under Fox and Fangio, Chicago could be a sleeper in the NFC. However, it’s highly unlikely all 3 of those things will happen. In fact, it’s more likely that Cutler will be the same Cutler we have seen the last 7 years in Chicago, the offensive line will be a major weakness and the defense will struggle to adjust to their new scheme.

Not to mention the schedule figures to provide a major challenge, as the NFC North has take on the stacked NFC West and AFC West. They do get the benefit of drawing both the Redskins and Buccaneers in their two cross-conference matchups, but they could just as easily lose both.

My big concern is the moral of this team being crushed with a brutal start to the season that opens with home games against the Packers and Cardinals, followed by a road trip to Seattle, a home game against the Raiders and two more road contests against the Chiefs and Lions. There’s a good chance the Bears are sitting at 1-5 going into their Week 7 bye. When it’s all said and done, I have Chicago finishing with the same record as last year at 5-11, which is well below their season win total of 7.

NFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
4th
1-5
5-11
UNDER 7
Bears 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 5 11 Trestman 8.5
2013 8 8 Trestman 8.5
2012 10 6 Smith 9.5
2011 8 8 Smith 8.5
2010 11 5 Lost Conf Smith 8
2009 7 9 Smith 8.5
2008 9 7 Smith 8
2007 7 9 Smith 10
2006 13 3 Lost SB Smith 9
2005 11 5 Lost Div Smith 7

Dan Schmelzer

Dan Schmelzer
BearGogglesOn.com

UNDER 7 Wins – I am going with the under on seven wins for the Bears in 2015. There is some nice talent on the roster, but I see this as a bit of a transition year under the new regime. The schedule is pretty tough as well, which certainly does not help.

Lester Wiltfong

Lester Wiltfong
WindyCityGridIron.com

UNDER 7 Wins – New Chicago Bears’ head coach John Fox is known for helming quick rebuilds, but to expect a similar jump in wins for the Bears is a bit much. The Panthers went from 1 win before Fox, to 7 wins with him in 2002. Denver went from 4 wins in 2010, to 8 wins when Fox was hired the following year.

The Bears should be better on both sides of the ball, but they have a brutal open to the schedule and the NFC North looks tougher from top to bottom this year. My guess right now, before preseason kicks off, is the Bears win 6 games.

Mike Burzawa

Mike Burzawa
BearGogglesOn.com

UNDER 7 Wins – My heart says the Bears will go over 7 wins, but my head says they’ll go under. As a bettor, I’ve learned to bet with my head and not my heart.

The Bears open the season with a brutal stretch of games – vs Green Bay, vs Arizona and at Seattle. It’s easy to see them start 0-3 and for a rebuilding team with so many new pieces on defense, it could be hard to recover from a shaky start.

John Fox and his staff won’t let this team collapse like the 2014 Bears did, so if the defense can come together before the end of the season, the Bears could make a late run. December home games against San Francisco and Washington and road dates in Tampa and Minnesota before closing the season against Detroit could make those betting the under a little nervous down the stretch.

If you’re the type who doesn’t mind going against the table and betting the No Pass line in Craps, go ahead and bet the Under, as you might find yourself cheering against the Beloved. If you’re a Bears fan who doesn’t mind sweating out some interesting games in December, you can take a chance on the Over.

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