The Chicago Bears defense has nowhere to go but up
Let's finish with the biggest reason the Bears were the NFL's worst team last year. The defense was historically bad, allowing a league-worst 27.2 points per game. During one particularly brutal four-game stretch, the Bears scored 29, 32, 30, and 24 points... and lost all four games. For a franchise that has long prided itself on the defensive side of the ball, seeing the Bears unable to stop even the most inept offenses was beyond frustrating.
Ryan Poles is hoping to turn the page on last year's abysmal defensive performance with some fresh faces. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs aren't walking through that door, but the addition of former Buffalo Bill Tremaine Edmunds and former Philadelphia Eagle T.J. Edwards should put an end to the days of opponents moving the ball at will.
The Bears' secondary is also set to take a leap forward. One of the youngest units in the league, the quartet of Jaylon Johnson, Eddie Jackson, Kyler Gordon, and Jaquan Brisker is joined by aggressive rookie Tyrique Stevenson out of Miami. The Bears' starting secondary missed a combined ten games last year, but with good health and another year of development, the unit could become a strength.
Even with so many new faces, let's not kid ourselves. The Bears defense won't suddenly ascend to the top of the league, but Matt Eberflus' pedigree as a defensive mind, combined with an incentive to win (which, let's be honest, didn't exist in the second half last year), should see the D take great strides.
One last thing, which we'll call an honorable mention to our five reasons the Bears can win the NFC North this year. According to Warren Sharp, the Bears are 0-9 the past three seasons when they had less rest than their opponents. This year, they are the only team that will never play an opponent that has more rest than them. Instead, the Bears are tied with the Jets and Commanders as the teams with the biggest rest advantage in the league at +12 days. Combine that with Chicago having the sixth-easiest projected strength of schedule in the league, and the ingredients are there for a huge improvement.