When the Chicago Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith following the 2012 season, things took a turn for the worse. The Bears went 8-8 in Marc Trestman’s first year on the job in 2013, but he wasn’t retained after a 5-11 campaign in 2014. In came John Fox to fix the problem, but he managed to go just 14-34 in 3 seasons.
Fox was fired after a 5-11 finish in 2017. His replacement is Matt Nagy, who has spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. Nagy has spent his entire NFL coaching career up to this point as an assistant under Andy Reid.
Chicago is definitely hoping Nagy has a similar impact to that of which Doug Pederson has had with the Eagles. Pederson took a similar path to a head coach as Nagy, serving his entire NFL coaching career as an assistant under Reid, with the last 3 coming as the offensive coordinator in KC.
Nagy hired former Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich as the new offensive coordinator, but it will be interesting to see if it’s Nagy or Helfrich calling the plays. Vic Fangio, who was interviewed for the head coaching job, was retained as the defensive coordinator.
A lot of the attention will be on how the hire of Nagy impacts the play of starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears traded up to the No. 2 to pick to take Trubisky in last year’s draft and he ended up starting the final 12 games with mixed results.
The thing you have to keep in mind is Trubisky had little to no weapons to work with in the passing game. Kendall Wright was their leading receiver with 59 catches for 614 yards. GM Ryan Pace made a point to improve the talent around Trubisky. They signed wide outs Allen Robinson and Tyler Gabriel, used a second round pick on Memphis wide out Anthony Miller and also signed tight end Trey Burton away from the Super Bowl champs.
Two other draft picks that are expected to make an immediate impact are Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith and Iowa center James Daniels. Smith is considered an elite prospect and was taken No. 8 overall. Daniels was taken No. 39 and while he’s listed as a center, he’s expected to play guard.
Expectations will certainly be limited in 2018, but there’s no question that Bears’ fans are starting to grow restless. Chicago hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010 and have had just one winning season over the last 7 years.
2018 Bears Schedule & Projected Odds
Below you will find the early odds released by Vegas for Weeks 1-16, as well as my projected number for Week 17. Using the lines we are able to give a game-by-game win probability, which we used to come up an expected win total.
|1||at Packers SNF||+8.5||0.20|
Projected Wins: 6.62
Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER 6.5
I was definitely hoping for a better number, but I would still lean towards Chicago eclipsing the mark of 6.5 wins set by the books. You don’t often see a team that’s been as bad as the Bears have been with a win total a fun 1.5-games higher than the number of games they won the previous season. The Bears are far from a public team. To me this feels more like the oddsmakers taking a stance and hoping the public takes the bait and bets the UNDER.
Whether or not the Bears can win 7+ games will come down to the improvements Nagy can make with the offense. Considering they finished 29th in scoring (16.5 ppg) and 30th in total offense (287.4 ypg) with a rookie quarterback starting 12-games in what felt like an out-dated offense, there’s reason to be optimistic the unit will only get better. Especially given the upgrades they made at the receiver position.
A lot of people overlook just how good this team was on the defensive side of the ball because of their 5-11 record. Chicago gave up just 20.0 ppg (9th) and a mere 319.1 ypg (10th).
You also have to factor in just how competitive the Bears were despite the record. In the 12 games that Trubisky started, Chicago only had two losses by more than 10 points and those were on the road against the Eagles and Vikings. They had 5 total losses by a touchdown or less and 3 decided by a field goal or less.
Odds to Win the Super Bowl: +10000
While I think the Bears are a bit underpriced here at 100 to 1 win it all, as you have the likes of the Browns sitting at 90 to 1 (+9000), I’m not about to recommend putting money on Chicago to win the Super Bowl.
There’s simply too much uncertainty with this team to be risking your hard earned money on them to win it all. Simply getting to 8-8 would be a great season for this team.
Odds to Win the NFC: +4000
Nothing to get excited about here either. Sure the value is great at 40 to 1 (only Arizona has worse odds in the NFC at 45 to 1), but the chances of this team even making the playoffs is slim to none.
Not to mention, if they were to make it, it would almost surely be as a Wild Card (play in the same division as Vikings and Packers). That means this team would have to win 3 straight on the road with a second year QB and first year head coach.
Odds to Win the NFC North: +700
Again, I don’t think it’s worth the risk to bet on the Bears to win the NFC North. Minnesota won the division last year at 13-3 and the Packers are a near lock to win at least 10 games with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. It’s likely going to take 11 or 12 wins just to have a shot at the division title and I just don’t see a scenario where Chicago can get to that mark.