William Hill

Chicago Bears Season Win Total: Under 8.5

Jay Cutler hopes for more pass protection this year, but we're not holding our breath.

Jay Cutler hopes for more pass protection this year, but we’re not holding our breath.

Chicago Bears

Bet365 NFL betting line: Over 8.5 -125/Under 8.5 -105
Last season: 10-6
Our pick: Under 8.5

 

Though the Bears have gone 76-52 over the past eight seasons, they’ve made the postseason just once since 2006. That includes last year, when Chicago missed the playoffs despite winning seven of its first eight games and finishing 10-6. That spelled the end for coach Lovie Smith, who was replaced by a face familiar to CFL fans – former Alouettes coach Marc Trestman.

Somehow the Bears won those 10 games last year with the 28th-ranked offence (total yards) in the NFL. Jay Cutler gets a lot of love for that strong arm of his (and a lot of criticism for his moodiness), but Chicago ranked 29th in passing yards last year. Of course, not all of that is on Cutler. The Bears’ offensive line is borderline porous (remember that game last season against the 49ers, when Jason Campbell filled in for a concussed Cutler and was sacked five times?) and doesn’t allow its pivots much time to get the ball downfield.

Chicago has done some tinkering with the offensive line, but there isn’t much reason to expect a huge improvement when it comes to pass protection. Fortunately for the Bears, they have a very capable back in Matt Forte to move the chains on the ground and catch some balls out of the backfield. Brandon Marshall is a stud receiver when Cutler has time to pass, but there aren’t many other weapons at wideout or tight end.

Defensively, the Bears have to fill the middle linebacker spot left vacant by the retirement of Brian Urlacher. They hope Broncos cast-off DJ Williams can fill the void, but Urlacher’s leadership and presence may be more difficult to replace than a few tackles a game. The defensive line remains solid, particularly on the ends, and the cornerback duo of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings remains one of the better ones in the NFL. Don’t forget that the Bears ranked third in points against and fifth in yards allowed last year.

The schedule is not the Bears’ friend. Six games will be against NFC North opponents who are all expected to be .500 or better, they will visit Pittsburgh, and they’ll be home to Cincinnati, Dallas, New Orleans and the Giants. Chicago was favoured eight times when Cantor Gaming released point spreads in May for all NFL games up to Week 16, but never by more than a field goal.

We envision a long season for Bears fans. Urlacher’s abilities may have fallen off in recent years, but he was still the heart and soul of that defence, and Chicago needs a dominant defence to offset its inconsistent attack. A .500 season is a best-case scenario for this club, and we won’t be surprised to see them finish last in the North.

 

Chicago Bears 2013 schedule

1 Sun, Sep 8
  • vs Cincinnati
1:00 PM CBS
2 Sun, Sep 15
  • vs Minnesota
1:00 PM FOX
3 Sun, Sep 22
  • @ Pittsburgh
8:30 PM NBC
4 Sun, Sep 29
  • @ Detroit
1:00 PM FOX
5 Sun, Oct 6
  • vs New Orleans
1:00 PM FOX
6 Thu, Oct 10
  • vs NY Giants
8:25 PM NFL
7 Sun, Oct 20
  • @ Washington
1:00 PM FOX
8 BYE WEEK
9 Mon, Nov 4
  • @ Green Bay
8:30 PM ESPN
10 Sun, Nov 10
  • vs Detroit
1:00 PM FOX
11 Sun, Nov 17
  • vs Baltimore
1:00 PM CBS
12 Sun, Nov 24
  • @ St. Louis
1:00 PM FOX
13 Sun, Dec 1
  • @ Minnesota
1:00 PM FOX
14 Mon, Dec 9
  • vs Dallas
8:30 PM ESPN
15 Sun, Dec 15
  • @ Cleveland
1:00 PM FOX
16 Sun, Dec 22
  • @ Philadelphia
1:00 PM FOX
17 Sun, Dec 29
  • vs Green Bay
1:00 PM FOX

 

 

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