The Chicago Bears Are Right Where I Expected Them to Be
Oct 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; A Chicago Bears helmet lays on the bench during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
I hate it when I’m right. I really do. I hate to say it, but at 3-5, the Chicago Bears are right where I thought they’d be. Of course, the way they got there is what’s surprising, but I expected a rough start for the Chicago Bears. When I did my preseason predictions, I had the Bears at 3-5 at the break.
Here’s what I thought about their 2014 season:
"Boomer (9-7)The Bears enter the season returning all 11 starters for the second ranked 2013 offense. They only return a handful of starters from the worst defense in franchise history. Special teams won’t be the same as Patrick Mannelly and Devin Hester have gone in different directions. The Bears’ front line talent is good enough to make a run in the postseason, but injuries could expose some depth concerns.The Bears have a very difficult front end of the schedule, only playing three home games out of the first nine games. That means they get a lot of home games late in the season when they can get on a run that could carry them into the playoffs. This team doesn’t seem quite ready for the big dance in 2014, but if they can get things rolling late in the season, you never know."
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Who knew the Bears would be 0-3 at home? Who thought they’d win at San Francisco, New York at Atlanta? Who knew the Falcons would bomb and the Jets would be a disaster? The NFL is unpredictable at best.
I thought the Bears might struggle early in the season, but I had them bouncing back for a strong second half, going 6-2 on the way out. If the Bears can follow my roadmap in the second half, they would end up with a winning 9-7 record, which would be a big boost for this struggling club.
Think the Bears are dead in the water for a chance at the playoffs? You’re pretty much right. But they’re not completely sunk. According to one statistical analysis, the Bears have an 8% chance to make the playoffs and a 4% chance to still win the division. I wrote that “you never know” what can happen if they get on a roll, but trailing the Lions by three games and the Packers by a pair in the division is a lot of ground to make up.
If you consider the Bears’ second half schedule, their playoffs start pretty much right out of the gates. They’ll get the Packers on SNF on the road. The next two games are must win – at home against the Vikings and Bucs. Lose either of those and you can book your vacation plans for January.
Nov 28, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions fans dressed as pilgrims cheer during the fourth quarter of a NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Next you get a Thanksgiving date with the Lions, who’ve been really tough so far. As good as the Cowboys have been this season, I feel like they’re vulnerable out in the elements in December at night the following Thursday. The Saints aren’t the same away from home as they are in their cozy dome. Same goes for the Lions, although what they’ve done in the first half without Calvin Johnson has been impressive. Then you close out the season on the road in Minnesota.
Winning the division is a looooong shot, but getting a Wild Card spot could be even tougher. When you consider that the Cardinals are surprising the NFC West and only have 1 loss, you can’t count out the Niners and Seahawks in the postseason race. I think at least one Wild Card will come out of the NFC West. Now you have the Eagles and Cowboys who will be in a race for the East. The loser might get a consolation prize trip to the postseason.
For the Bears’ sake, let’s hope they exceed my second half expectations. Think they can do it? Think the Bears have any chance for the postseason? Chime in with your thoughts in the Comments.