The Bears in all reality could finish in a variety of ways. There are a number of unknowns like whether Kevin White can produce, can Zach Miller stay healthy, and can Jay Cutler put together another solid year. In a series of two record predictions leading to opening day, we break down how every game will shake out for the Bears along with their place in the division and playoffs should they qualify.
Week 1: @ Texans- Signs are pointing more and more towards JJ Watt being able to suit up for this game. That doesn’t bode well for any team, let alone a Bears’ squad that is struggling on the offensive line. However, the injury bug has been alive and well in Houston as well. Their starting center, Nick Martin, will be out along with left tackle, Duane Brown. This could be the perfect storm for the Bears as the Texans will be trotting out their new quarterback in Brock Osweiler. That being said, DeAndre Hopkins will have a field day against the Bears’ weak secondary. Bears will drop their opener 27-10 (0-1)
Week 2: vs Eagles MNF- The Bears vs Eagles rivalry is split down the middle at 2-2 since Cutler came to town, and there is little to separate them heading into this matchup. That being said, Cutler has generally played well against the Eagles throwing for 848 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in those four games. Because of that, the Bears get their first win of the season 24-17 (1-1)
Week 3: @ Cowboys SNF: Whether Tony Romo has a functioning clavicle or not, this will be a test of the Bears’ mettle. The Cowboys arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL and love to run the ball. Run defense was definitely not a bright spot for the Bears last year as the gave up around 4.5 yards per carry last year. The defense and specifically the linebacking core has been significantly improved since then, but that doesn’t make stopping Ezekiel Elliot a given either. I see this becoming a shootout. Ultimately, the Bears should be able to outscore a Cowboys team that is built around running the ball and chucking it up to Dez Bryant, the question is if they will. Last season, there were games that Alshon Jeffery would be completely dominating, and the Bears would stop throwing the ball his way. Hopefully the addition of White will help with this, but John Fox has a history of staying with the run more often than he should. The Bears drop a heartbreaker 38-35 (1-2)
Week 4: vs Lions: Detroit has had Chicago’s number for some time now. In fact, the Bears haven’t beaten the Lions since December of 2012. However, the Bears will no longer have to worry about Calvin Johnson tearing apart their secondary anymore. Both offenses will struggle to find their footing, but the Bears will prevail 20-10 (2-2)
Week 5: @ Colts- Andrew Luck will be back and likely out for blood after a miserable campaign last season. The Bears secondary has no business going against a quarterback like Luck. If they win this game, it will be because of pass rush, and because the Bears exploit the likely absence of Vontae Davis, the Colts’ top cornerback. Even so, I don’t see the Bears getting out of Indianapolis above .500. Colts take this one 27-13 (2-3)
Week 6: vs Jaguars- The Bears haven’t played against Jacksonville since 2012, and a lot has changed since then. Blake Bortles now knows how to lead a viable offense, and he will have his two wideouts who totaled over 1000 yards apiece last season. The Bears will have a difficult time contending with one top tier receiver, let alone two. The Bears will fall 30-13 (2-4)
Week 7: @ Packers TNF: Short week of preparation, in Green Bay, with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb… Bears lose 27-7 (2-5)
Week 8: vs Vikings: The Bears consistently play the Vikings tough at Soldier Field, and that won’t change this year. The Bears have beaten the Vikings their last two appearances on Monday Night, and they will stage an unlikely upset against a Vikings team that will be leading the NFC North. Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery will have a big night and lead the Bears to a 27-23 win (3-5)
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @ Buccaneers- A week of rest and momentum from their upset win will carry over into Tampa. The defense will come alive and force three turnovers along with one score. The Bears win comfortably 23-10 (4-5)
Week 11: @ Giants- The combination of the Giants fighting for a playoff spot coupled with Eli Manning’s and Odell Beckham Jr’s connection means bad news for the Bears. Chicago’s momentum is halted in the Meadowlands with a 20-17 loss (4-6)
Week 12: vs Titans- At this point, the Bears aren’t eliminated from the playoff race but it’s close. The Bears won’t be able to spare a home loss to an inferior team. They will get the job done in a solid 23-13 win with a balanced ground attack between Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford (5-6)
Week 13: vs 49ers- Ironic that the Bears will find themselves against the 49ers with near identical playoff implications. This time, Robbie Gould will drill a kick that sends the game to overtime. The Bears will win the toss and march down the field with the game winning score going to Kevin White. The Bears crawl back to .500 in a 26-20 OT thriller (6-6).
Week 14: @ Lions- The two bottom teams in the NFC North will meet with the Lions playing the role of spoiler. The Bears have only won twice in Detroit since 2010, and that trend will continue. Cutler has his worst outing of the year with 3 interceptions. The Bears take a major hit to their playoff hopes with a 21-17 defeat (6-7)
Week 15: vs Packers- The Bears need help to get into the playoffs, but first they have to help themselves. A home matchup with the new leaders in the NFC North will have playoff implications across the board. The 9-4 Packers have a one game lead on the Vikings and can put some ground between the two of they meet the following week. Jay Cutler has a bounce-back performance and will surpass 400 yards passing along with a game winning drive that is capped with a Jordan Howard rush from the goal line. Bears win in stunning fashion 21-15 (7-7).