Chicago Bears preview 2023: Over or under 7.5 wins? Chances to claim NFC North title?

0
781
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields rolls out during an NFL preseason football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

It’s NFL team preview time, and today we’re looking at the Chicago Bears. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from July 25 through Sept. 8, we will take an in-depth look at each team in the NFL with a 7- to 10-minute video going through impactful additions and departures, last year’s rankings and strength of schedule in 2023.

Home Field Sports analyst Jim Derry will then make a prediction on the team’s record this season and where they will finish in their respective division, along with the over/under win total, as posted at Caesars Sportsbook.

These stories are a brief summary of the accompanied preview videos – powered by the Dattitude Podcast (which will review each division every Friday until the season begins). The schedule for when each team will run is listed below with a link to each story and video that already has run.

CHICAGO BEARS

Coach: Matt Eberflus (2nd season)

2022 record: 3-14, 4th in NFC North; did not make playoffs.

Last season in a nutshell: The coming-out party for Justin Fields, who clearly is now one of the most dynamic and unpredictable quarterbacks in the NFL. Basically, he seems to be Lamar Jackson with Superman-type size.

There is no question on whether he will be dominating with his feet, but whether he will become a more accurate quarterback is unsure. And no matter how well he can run, if he can’t find his receivers, he will never turn the Bears into a contender.

Fields completed more than 67 percent of his passes in just three of the 15 games he played in last season and had a passer rating over 100 four times. He also didn’t have a single contest in which he completed more than 20 passes. For comparison, Derek Carr did it in nine of 14 games he played in last year.

Sure, Fields was great rushing the football, but being first in the league in the run game and last in passing is a recipe for 3-14, which is exactly what they were. This came after a 2-1 start with a shocking 19-10 victory over San Francisco in the much and mire at Soldier Field and a 23-20 nailbiter against Houston.

They then finished the season by losing 13 of their last 14 games, winning only at New England on Oct. 24.

The good news is it put the Bears in the scenario of holding the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, which they traded to Carolina for the Panthers’ top pick this past year (10th overall, which turned out to be Tennessee T Darnell Wright) and next and a second-round pick in 2023 and 2025 AND receiver DJ Moore.

2023 bye week: 13

2023 Draft: 1 (10th overall) T Darnell Wright, Tennessee; 2 (53) DL Gervon Dexter, Florida; 2 (56) CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (Fla.); 3 (64) Zacch Pickens, South Carolina; 4 (115) RB Roschon Johnson, Texas; 4 (133) WR Tyler Scott, Cincinnati; 5 (148) Noah Sewell, Oregon; 5 DB Terell Smith, Minnesota; 7 (218) Travis Bell, Kennesaw State; 7 (258) S Kendall Williamson, Stanford.

Free-agent signings: LB Tremaine Edmunds (from Buffalo), 4 years, $72M; G Nate Davis (from Tennessee), 3 years, $10M; DE DeMarcus Walker (from Tennessee), 3 years, $21M; LB TJ Edwards (from Philadelphia), 3 years, $19.5M; QB PJ Walker (from Carolina), 2 years, $4.15M; RB Travis Homer (from Seattle), 2 years, $4M; DE Yannick Ngakoue (from Indianapolis), 1 year, $10.5M; DT Andrew Billings (from Las Vegas), 1 year, $2.75M; TE Robert Tonyan (from Green Bay), 1 year, $2.65M; DE Rasheem Green (from Houston), 1 year, $2.5M; TE Marcedes Lewis (Green Bay), 1 year, $2M; RB D’Onta Foreman (from Carolina), 1 year, $2M; LB Dylan Cole (from Tennessee), 1 year, $1.23M;

What needs to go right: Depending on what you’re asking for. If you’re hoping for a major improvement and proof this team is on the right track, then you have realistic expectations and there’s about a 50-50 shot you’ll be satisfied. If you’re hoping for a playoff berth – or even a division title – then just about everything will have to be right WITH a little luck.

In the offseason, the team allowed running back David Montgomery to bolt – and to NFC North rival Detroit, nonetheless, which leaves them a bit thin at the position, despite bringing in D’Onta Foreman from the Panthers.

DJ Moore is a nice upgrade at receiver, and getting Chase Claypool in the middle of last year from Pittsburgh also helps, but we go back to whether Fields can improve on his completion percentage.

The franchise has done the best they can do – for now – to improve their offensive line (including using the 10th overall pick on Wright), but will it be enough to open things up for the franchise QB?

They also made a couple of big moves on defense, signing Edmunds, Walker and Edwards, but is that enough to improve from 28th overall to where they’ll need to be to make a playoff run?

Theoretically, Chicago has the eighth-easiest schedule, but it doesn’t really look like that easy on the surface. They open and end against Green Bay and a Week 2 game against Tampa Bay could be an opportunity for good things. However, they travel to Kansas City in Week 3 and host Denver in Week 4. Also, there are games against Minnesota (twice), the Chargers, New Orleans and at Detroit before their Week 13 bye.

In other words, is the hype a season or two early? We likely will find out before Halloween.

Key moments in video:

0:00 Chicago Bears preview

1:19 It’s the Justin Fields Show

3:01 Bears like the early 2023 team or late?

6:00 Can defense improve? It will have to.

6:57 Dissecting an interesting schedule

8:32 Predictions for Bears and best bets

PREVIEW SCHEDULE / LINKS

AFC SOUTH

July 25: Houston Texans

July 26: Indianapolis Colts

July 27: Jacksonville Jaguars

July 28: Tennessee Titans

NFC WEST

Aug. 1: Arizona Cardinals

Aug. 2: Los Angeles Rams

Aug. 3: San Francisco 49ers

Aug. 4: Seattle Seahawks

AFC WEST

Aug. 8: Denver Broncos

Aug. 9: Kansas City Chiefs

Aug. 10: Las Vegas Raiders

Aug. 11: Los Angeles Chargers

NFC EAST

Aug. 15: Dallas Cowboys

Aug. 16: New York Giants

Aug. 17: Philadelphia Eagles

Aug. 18: Washington Commanders

AFC EAST

Aug. 22: Buffalo Bills

Aug. 23: Miami Dolphins

Aug. 24: New England Patriots

Aug. 25: New York Jets

NFC NORTH

Aug. 29: Chicago Bears

Aug. 29: Detroit Lions

Aug. 30: Green Bay Packers

Aug. 30: Minnesota Vikings

AFC NORTH

Aug. 31: Baltimore Ravens

Aug. 31: Cincinnati Bengals

Sept. 1: Cleveland Browns

Sept. 2: Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC SOUTH

Sept. 5: Atlanta Falcons

Sept. 6: Carolina Panthers

Sept. 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sept. 8: New Orleans Saints

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here