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Bears look to steadily improve in 2018

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

2017 wasn’t a fun year for the Chicago Bears, however, there were a few bright spots in the 5-11 season. The Bears defense played fairly well for the amount of time they were the field. Giving up just 20 points per game, the Bears defense was largely responsible for wins over playoff teams Pittsburgh, and Carolina.

The Bears lost several close games to Minnesota, New Orleans, Green Bay, Detroit, and San Francisco. With a new coach (Matt Nagy), and a few new offensive weapons in the form of tight end Trey Burton, wide receiver Allen Robinson, and a healthy Kevin White to pair with a loaded backfield of Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen the Bears just might be able to score some points this season.

The Bears ranked 29th in the NFL in 2017 scoring just 16.5 points per game.

Young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky should improve with a season under his belt and new offensive playmakers, however, I am very skeptical of the young QB. He only topped 300 yards passing just once in 2017, and 200 yards three times.

The Bears will be tested early in week one with a road trip to Lambeau Field where quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will be waiting. Rodgers is coming off of a season to forget in which he sat out most of it with a broken collarbone. He will be looking to rebound with new tight end Jimmy Graham who can make a big impact on the scoreboard. The Packers were 4-1 before Rodgers’ injury, and at Lambeau Field, they may be too big an obstacle to overcome for a young Bears squad. Packers 20, Bears 10.

Fortune awaits the Bears in their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks’ legion of boom is all but gone with the retirement of safety Kam Chancellor, while cornerback Richard Sherman is now with the 49ers. Pass rusher Michael Bennett signed with the Philadelphia Eagles making the Seahawks defense vulnerable. Quarterback Russell Wilson is still a threat, however, I believe the Bears defense can contain him. Bears 14, Seahawks 7.

Chicago hits the road in week three, as they head southwest to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Quarterbacking the Cardinals might be Sam Bradford who is coming off a season ending injury, or it may be rookie Josh Rosen. The Cardinals also have their star running back David Johnson coming off of a season-ending injury, however, their new 4-3 defense can create problems for the Bears who will look to lead with a ground attack. Coupled with home field advantage, I think the Cardinals squeeze out a win vs. the Bears. Cardinals 13, Bears 3.

In week four the Bears get a gift in the form of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quarterback Jameis Winston will be making his 2018 season debut after serving a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. I think the Bear top 10 defense overwhelms Winston, and forces him to make costly errors. Bears 17, Buccaneers 14.

The Bears will have two weeks to prepare for the Miami Dolphins in week six after their week seven bye. That should be plenty of time to prepare for an offense led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill who is returning from a season-ending injury. Bears 20, Dolphins 18.

In week seven the AFC Champion New England Patriots come to town. Quarterback Tom Brady will lead an offense that just might be too powerful for the Bears to stop. Last year the Patriots averaged 28.6 points per game (good enough for No. 2 in the league), and although lost receivers Brandin Cooks, and Danny Amendola, they still have plenty of weapons including arguably the best tight end in the league Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots defense only allowed 18.5 points per game which was fifth in the NFL. Patriots 24, Bears 17.

Week eight will present an easier challenge for the Bears. The New York Jets visit Chicago, and will likely be led by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Last year the Jets offense ranked 24th in the NFL. Although the Jets are taking the right steps to rebuild, the Bears defense might be a bit too much for young Darnold to overcome on the road. Bears 16, Jets 13.

The Bears wrap up AFC competition in Buffalo where they will likely face another rookie quarterback in Josh Allen. The Bills offense last year when not led by former quarterback Tyrod Taylor managed just 23 points in two games, 136 yards passing, and was able to salvage a 13-7 win vs. Indianapolis thanks to running back LeSean McCoy. Expect the Bills offense to struggle against the Bears. Bears 14, Bills 10.

Monday, October 31st, 2016… That was the last time the Bears won an NFC North rivalry game. Sunday, November 11, 2018, will be the next time. The Bears match up nicely with the Detroit Lions, and came close to victory at home in 2017. This time the Bears will have a slightly better offense, and will be fueled by a 5-3 record along with the home crowd. Bears 21, Lions 14.

Through the first 10 weeks, the Bears will be looking good at 6-3. Weeks 11-17 will be the grueling part of the schedule. The 2017 NFC North Champion Minnesota Vikings will present a threat the Bears haven’t seen yet. A high octane offense led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, receivers Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and running back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings defense is even more dangerous, as they ranked No. 1 in the NFL for total defense in 2017. Vikings 22, Bears 15.

It’s a short week for the Bears as they travel to Detroit for early Thanksgiving football. Week 10 will be fresh in the Lions’ minds, as they will look to unleash their passing attack at its best; inside the dome. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 4,446 yards in 2017, and will look to make up for a poor performance in Chicago. Lions 23, Bears 19.

A trip to the Meadowlands looms in week 13. A winnable game for the Lions, however, they will have to keep pace with quarterback Eli Manning, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and running back Saquon Barkley. If the Bears defense can exploit the Giants offensive line, they can win, however, I think Beckham Jr., and Barkley will be too much to stop, and the Bears offense won’t be able to keep pace. Giants 30, Bears 20.

The Los Angeles Rams will present the Bears their toughest challenge of the 2018 season. The Rams boosted their No. 1 ranked offense with the addition of Brandin Cooks. Teams struggled to keep the Rams under 30 points a season ago, and the Bears aren’t far enough along to compete with this team. Rams 25, Bears 18.

Chicago will play its last game at home against their arch rival the Packers. With a healthy Rodgers throwing the ball, the Packers will look to pick apart the Bears defense, and stay in playoff contention. Packers 27, Bears 14.

A trip to San Francisco is next for the Bears. Another winnable game for the Bears, however, the early bye week begins to take its toll in week 16. The Bears defense will continue to see the field too much, and will fatigue late in the second half. I think the 49ers win a close home battle after the Bears defense fails to hold on for the win. 49ers 20, Bears 19.

The Bears season finale will be at Minnesota, and if the Vikings need this game for playoff positioning, I don’t think the Bears stand a chance on the road. Vikings 31, Bears 16.

At the season’s end, the Bears will have shown progress under new head coach Matt Nagy finishing 6-10, and will look to continue to build its offense, so that its defense sees fewer minutes on the field.

This article was originally published on @taviano1027