Staff Predictions: How will the Bears finish 2018?
The 3-1, first-place Chicago Bears are on a bye this week. So how will the rest of the season go? Our staff attempts to answer that question here.
Hub Arkush (General Manager/Editor):10-6; second place behind Vikings
At 3-1 through the first quarter of the season, the Chicago Bears have significantly raised the bar on expectations for themselves this season. And with the combined record of their next eight opponents standing at 11-20-1, there’s a good chance things are going to get better before their final four games at home vs. the Rams and Packers and on the road at San Francisco and Minnesota.
After the bye, the Bears are in Miami, at home vs. New England and the Jets, at Buffalo, at home vs. Detroit and Minnesota and on the road at Detroit and the Giants.
The hard part now is throwing out who we thought the Bears were and projecting what we think is going to happen based on what we’ve seen so far.
I don’t see the Bears losing to Miami, the Jets, Buffalo, the Lions twice, the Giants or the 49ers, but history tells us they’ll probably lose at least two of them, making them 7-3 pending a second Lions game, two with the Vikings, the Packers rematch and the Patriots and Rams games.
Again, off their first four games, the Bears should go at least 3-3 in those six, making them a 10-6 football team — two wins better than I expected at the start of the season. Call it the Khalil Mack effect.
Arthur Arkush (Managing Editor): 10-6; second place behind Packers
The Bears are 3-1, with perhaps only three games remaining in which they won’t be favored, so you bet it’s time to re-calibrate my original 9-7 season prediction … but by how much?
I think the Bears deserve to be considered the favorites in the NFC North. There, I said it. It’s largely because of their defense, which just might be the NFL’s best. Also: Aaron Rodgers isn’t Rodgers right now, and not only is something terribly amiss with the Vikings ‘D,’ they trail Chicago by 1 ½ games — Chicago can almost singlehandedly keep Mike Zimmer’s club from making the playoffs by taking care of its own business. And the Lions are about what we expected — the new cellar-dweller of the North.
It’s more than fair to remain skeptical about Mitch Trubisky and the Bears’ offense. But understand that they’ll still see defenses only marginally better than Tampa Bay’s, including Green Bay and Detroit at home; the Bears ‘D’ also has a pair of AFC East rookie quarterbacks and the 49ers’ C.J. Beathard left to feast on; and although we’re not predicting upsets — not yet anyway — road games in Minnesota and New York, and hosting New England, aren’t as imposing as they once were.
Bob LeGere (Senior Editor): Bears final record: 9-7; third place behind Vikings and Packers.
The Bears still have two games left against the Vikings, who should get things squared away at some point after a 1-2-1 start. They also must face the Patriots, who are an uncharacteristic 2-2 (in Week Seven), and they face the 4-0 Rams in Week 14, but both those games are at home.
It’s difficult, though, not to be enthusiastic when you consider that, of the Bears’ 12 remaining games, six are against teams that are currently 1-3. On the down side, since their off week comes so early, the Bears will be playing 12 straight weeks beginning Oct. 14 in Miami against the 3-1, overachieving Dolphins. The home stretch will not be easy, with four of the final six games on the road, and the only two home games are against the Rams and the Packers.
The defense clearly has staying power, will dominate at times and should be able to keep the Bears in every game, even if the offense continues to experience growing pains when it’s not facing teams like the defensively challenged Bucs. There are certain to be some slumps on the horizon, but coach Matt Nagy and his staff proved they could rally the troops after the heartbreaking loss to the Packers.
Eric Edholm (Senior Editor): Bears final record: 10-6; second place behind Packers.
Things sure look a little different now that we’ve recalibrated the Bears’ schedule. The New England Patriots still are a tough matchup, but the Miami Dolphins, who started out 3-0, might not look quite as tough in Week 6 now. Same goes for the Bills and Jets, who have each looked great in one game this season and pretty beatable the other three games. The San Francisco 49ers have lost their starting QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, and so on ...
In short, the Bears can win a lot of games suddenly. They’ll still be underdogs — and rightfully so — as things stand now in games against the Patriots, Packers and Rams, perhaps even both Vikings games depending on how they clean things up. But overall, you’d have to say the schedule breaks quite nicely for them. They currently have the lowest opponents’ win percentage in the NFL for the remaining games.
They’re all early kickoffs, too, save for the game at San Fran. If they can split with the Vikings, who have a tougher climb at 1-2-1, the Bears can steal a second-place finish. I still say the Packers are in the driver’s seat, but the margin most definitely has slimmed. A playoff spot is there for the taking in Chicago.