ESPN Chicago's Bears season forecast
September, 4, 2014
By Staff | ESPNChicago.com
|A slightly improved pass rush and defense will be just enough for the Bears to navigate a difficult division and schedule to make the postseason.
|Jay Cutler is poised for a big year. The offense shows no signs of regressing. That alone should allow the Bears to chase a playoff berth. But valid concerns exist on defense and special teams.
|The Bears have a potentially prolific offense back in full and a rejuvenated pass rush, but, man, I don't trust the back seven of that defense, and a poor special teams is going to cost them at least a game. The Bears will need some breaks to get double-digit wins.
|The eight games before the bye will tell a great story about the state of the Bears. Facing high-octane offensive teams like the Pats, Packers and 49ers and strong defensive teams like the Panthers and Jets will test Marc Trestman's troops in his second season as head coach.
|Jay Cutler will remain upright this year and play all 16 games. Matt Forte will have an outstanding season. The newly built defense will be above middle of the pack. The Bears will surprise the football world and get to the NFC Championship Game.
|I know, it was just the preseason. But with nothing else to go on and the defense always of critical importance, this feels optimistic.
|With no major injuries and a defense that should be 15th-ranked instead of the 30th-ranked unit that it was last season, the Bears will shock the Packers and win the North. But beating either Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans or Philly on the road in the playoffs might prove to be impossible.
|A tough early schedule has the Bears making hay in the second half of the season. That might not be enough to make the playoffs.
|I could also see them being 9-7 or 8-8 or ... oh, heck ... Does anyone really know? I'm hoping a great offense and a decent defense gets them back to the playoffs.
|The Bears will have no problem putting up points this year -- I expect a career year from Jay Cutler and continued excellence from Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery -- but getting the defense and special teams to keep up will be the challenge.
|The offense will be dynamic. The defense SHOULD be much improved. If the D is much better, it could be a special season.
|How many times will the offense have to overcome both the defense and the particularly scary bad special teams?
|I disagree strongly with Advanced Football Analytics' nine-win prediction because this year's edition of the Bears isn't a rebuilding project. They're built to win now, which is why the club overhauled the X's and O's of the scheme with proven veterans and other players set to hit the sweet spot of their careers. I'm expecting at least 10 wins -- 11 or 12 if everything falls right for the Bears.
MORE FROM ESPN CHICAGO
12/28/2014 - FINAL
2014 NFC NORTH STANDINGS
SEARCH THIS BLOG
LATEST ON THE CHICAGO BEARS
- Charles Tillman retweeted
- Robbie Gould retweeted