The Chicago Bears dwell in one of the NFL’s toughest overall divisions now, but with the Defense a shell of its former self, 2015 could end up being a pretty long one for the Bears.
It also doesn't help that the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings all have better Rosters and less Injury problems than Chicago. Let’s take a look at who this team lost, who they added, some betting Trends and games on the schedule the Bears could win then make some picks from all of our findings.
Mistake-Prone Cutler, WR Injuries, Defense May Hinder Monsters of the Midway this Season
The Chicago Bears (66/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) have gradually slipped through the years from a team once known for its Defense and division tiles to one which is now actually expected to be the doormats of the NFC North division. For now, Chicago (33/1 to win NFC, William Hill) is unfortunately tied to the monster contract of mercurial QB Jay Cutler—a player the Bears reportedly actually tried to trade on the opening night of the NFL Draft to the Tennessee Titans for their No. 2 overall Pick (the Titans took Oregon QB and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota). In 2014, the 32-year-old Vanderbilt and Santa Claus, Indiana native inked a lucrative 7-year, $126.7 million contract extension—$54 million of it guaranteed—and Cutler immediately began mindlessly throwing into heavy coverage, was injured and registered a 5-6 mark in his first season with Chicago. Value. Last season, the Bears QB managed a 5-10 record in his 15 starts and his 18 Interceptions led the NFL as Cutler—who earned a gaudy $18.5 million last season—continued to try to force the football into tight points in space, resulting in more Picks and frustrated WRs. Rumors Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall (Free Agent, now on Jets) didn’t get along could sort of be justified by Marshall’s departure this Offseason and it’s hard not to think that Cutler—who has missed a total of 12 games over the L4 seasons due to injuries—the albatross contract and his poor in-game decision-making is a big reason that Head Coach Jim Trestman and General Manager Phil Trestman were both shown the door this year and that John Fox (former Broncos HC) and Ryan Pace (Saints) are now filling those respective roles. At least Lovie Smith is still gone? It’s hard to think sometimes this is the same great NFL organization which gave us Papa George Halas, Red Grange, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers and Walter Payton. And William “The Refrigerator” Perry of course.
As far as betting goes, the Bears (20/1 to win NFC North, Stan James) have been a go-against team these L4 seasons, racking up a combined 25-47-2 ATS record and losing to the the number each of the L4 years (2014: 7-9 ATS; 2013: 4-11-1 ATS; 2012: 7-9; 2011: 7-8-1). But now there actually exists a psychological situation not only in the NFC North, but in the entire league itself, where teams expect to beat the Bears and are happy to see their name on the schedule. And not only have the feelings about Chicago changed among teams in the NFL, but the team’s fanbase and the city itself has pretty much given up on the team now to a large degree—fairly significant in that Chicago has always been a “Bears Town” despite having the loveable Cubs and White Sox in MLB, the six-time NBA champion Bulls in the NBA (thanks Mike) and the Blackhawks tearing things up in the NHL and actually enjoying the most real success in the last decade in the Windy City where some pizzas resemble manhole covers. And with six games against gunslinger Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (12-4 SU in 2015), the Detroit Lions (11-5) and the Minnesota Vikings (7-9), it seems like trouble. But actually, Chicago (2-6 Home, 1-5 vs. NFC North) has a pretty good schedule with some very winnable Home games against non-divisional teams (Cardinals, Raiders, 49ers, Redskins) as well as some Road dates against two Missouri teams and a Florida one the Bears could very well beat (Chiefs, Rams, Buccaneers), although Chicago seems to be on the downswing of late while the St. Louis Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs are seemingly on the upswing. Still, finding a scenario where Chicago wins 7 games is tough. The Bears will have probably beat one of the Lions or Vikings at Home in Chicago, stage an upset in another NFC North game and then scratch out 5 wins out of 7 theoretically winnable games against the Cardinals at Home (Week 2), the Raiders at Home (Week 4), the Chiefs in Kansas City (Week 5), the Rams in St. Louis (Week 10), the 49ers at Home (Week 13), the Redskins at Home (Week 14) and the Buccaneers in Tampa (Week 16). It could happen.
As far as personnel, Chicago has a little problem at WR right now with speedy (4.35 40 yard dash) top Draft Pick Kevin White (West Virginia, PUP List) sidelined with a Stress Fracture to his lower left Shin which has him out the first 6 weeks and possibly the entire season while fellow presumed starter Alshon Jeffery is nursing a Calf strain. Also troubling from a fan’s standpoint with this team is how the organization was mum and defensive on providing information on White’s injury, then admitted to it to some degree before revealing some 18 hours later that the 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound Rookie White—who had 109 Receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 TDs for the Mountaineers last season—would be having a rod surgically inserted in his left leg and that he could possibly miss the entire season.Another area in which the Bears (319 PF-442 PA) had problems last season was in their Turnover Differential, where Chicago was -5 (24 Takeaways - 29 Giveaways=), tied for 22nd in the league. And much of that can probably be attributed to Cutler and his 18 Interceptions. And the Defense was also a major problem in 2014, allowing an un-Bearlike 442 Points—the highest total in the NFC and second-worst mark in the entire NFL behind the Oakland Raiders (452 PA). The old adage is that ‘Defense wins championships,’ but it might also be noted that Lack of Defense often leaves one in last place in most professional sports. The Bears did bring in some new faces to help on that side of the football like Free Agents Sam Acho (LB, Cardinals), Pernell McPhee (LB, Ravens), Antrel Rolle (SS, Giants), Jarvis Jenkins (DE, Redskins) and Alan Ball (CB, Jaguars) but Chicago’s gamble on Niners Ray McDonald was a bust and it will take time for all these new Free Agents and Rookies to assimilate. And playing in a division with the likes of superstar skill position players like Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers, Lions’ WR Calvin Johnson and Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson means the Bears could be giving up over 400 points again this NFL Regular Season. Hey, is 81-year-old Buddy Ryan doing anything?
Chicago Bears QB Depth: Jay Cutler—Jimmy Clausen—David Fales—Shane Carden
Who’s New? Head Coach John Fox (Broncos), General Manager Ryan Pace (Saints), Rookie WR Kevin White (West Virginia, injured), Rookie DT Eddie Goldman (Florida State), Rookie C Hroniss Grasu (Oregon), Rookie RB Jeremy Langford (Michigan State), Rookie FS Adrian Amos (Penn State), Rookie OT Tayu Fabuluje (TCU),Free Agent WR Jacquizz Rodgers (Falcons), Free Agent LB Sam Acho (Cardinals), Free Agent OLB Pernell McPhee (Ravens), Free Agent SS Antrel Rolle (Giants), Free Agent WR Eddie Royal (Chargers), Free Agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins), Free Agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars), Free Agent C Will Montgomery (Broncos)
Who’s Gone From the Roster Now? Free Agent WR Brandon Marshall (Jets), G Chad Hamilton (retired), Free Agent DE Ray McDonald (49ers, Released), G Ryan Groy (Traded to Patriots), C Roberto Garza (Released, Free Agent)
Possible Wins on the Schedule: Week 2: vs. Cardinals; Week 4: vs. Raiders; Week 5 @ Chiefs; Week 8: vs. Vikings; Week 10: @ Rams; Week 13: vs. 49ers; Week 14: vs. Redskins; Week 16 @ Tampa Bay; Week 17 vs. Lions
Some Good Potential Betting Spots in Regular Season: Betting against the Bears and on their rival, the Packers (17-7 ATS vs. NFC North L4 years) in Week 1 at Soldier Field in Chicago makes sense as the recent Trends (Bears 1-8 ATS L9 vs. Packers, 0-5 ATS L5 in Chicago) support this play but you might want to get it now as this number has quickly risen from its opening 4 to 6½ now (Packers -6½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook; -6 at Pinnacle). Also, fading the Bears in Motown at Ford Field seems smart as Chicago is just 1-5 ATS L6 vs. the Lions overall and 0-5 ATS L5 in Detroit. The Bears (13/1 to reach NFC Championship Game, 5Dimes) lost big there last season, 34-17 as 7-point underdogs, and, with the Vikings improved, Detroit will know it has to have this win at Home against perceived lowly Chicago this season. A spot to maybe back the Bears? Obviously at Home in Week 4 against those aforementioned Raiders whom Chicago is 8-2 ATS L10 and 4-0 ATS L4 vs. at Home in the Windy City where you vote early and often. The Silver & Black have always been a mistake-prone side which make many dumb mistakes and is penalized much so maybe outscores and covers against QB David Carr and Oakland in a high-scoring affair at Soldier Field in Chicago on October 4.
Sarcastic Chicago Bears Super Bowl Matchup and Odds to Make You Guffaw: Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots 210/1 (5Dimes)
Are There Any Good Bears Futures Bets Now? Not really. Chicago won’t make it to Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, it won’t win the NFC and it won’t even win their NFC North division (+800 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes). So it all comes down to the Bears (5-11 SU) and their Regular Season Team Win Total of 7 (Under -160, Bovada) and it seems putting the onus on the Bears to go at least 7-9 is worth the price of the healthy juice (-160) here. And this number could be moved down to 6½ with the high odds on the Over if enough anti-Bears (Under 7) money comes in over the next couple of weeks. It probably won’t, but with the Packers eyeballing a trip to the Super Bowl, the Vikings seemingly improved and the Lions playing some of the best Defense they have in years, holding a Bears Under 7 Wins ticket for the Fall and Winter doesn’t sound like the worst thing and Chicago will probably need an above average year from Cutler, WRs White and Jefferey to get healthy and play as many games as possible, jitterbugs like Jacquizz Rodgers (5-6) and Eddie Royal (5-10) to contribute and the Defense to improve a whole lot for Chicago to have any chance to even go 7-9. It could happen, but with the city and fans expecting folly with Cutler behind Center and all opponents glad to see Chicago coming up, taking the Under 7 seems the only decent Futures wager with any niche markets like Rookie of the Year wiped out with White’s left Shin issues. But if you’re heavy on the Contrarian thing, Cutler is priced at 25/1 (5Dimes) to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award... but probably best not to put too many eggs in that particular longshot basket as anyone who has watched the Bears QB over the past couple of years knows he is prone to making the big mistakes (or mistakes) at the wrong point in time, often on the wrong (bad for Chicago) side of the 50-yard line. There is a reason this franchise tried to deal Cutler on Draft night.
Recent Relevant Trends: Bears 1-8 ATS L9 vs. Packers, 0-5 ATS L5 in Chicago; Bears 1-5 ATS L6 vs. Lions and 0-5 ATS L5 in Detroit; Bears 4-11 ATS L15 vs. 49ers, but 3-1 ATS L5 Home in Chicago; Bears 2-5 ATS L7 vs. Seahawks; Bears 3-10 ATS L13 vs. Redskins, 2-8 ATS L10 at Home; Bears 8-2 ATS L10 vs. Raiders, 4-0 ATS L4 at Home; Bears 3-1 ATS L4 on Road in Kansas City; Bears 8-3 ATS L11 vs. Vikings, 6-1 ATS L7 at Home; Bears 6-2 ATS L8 vs. Chargers; Bears 5-2 ATS L7 vs. Rams, 3-1 ATS L4 on Road in St. Louis; Bears 6-1-2 ATS L9 vs. Broncos, 4-1 ATS L5 at Home
Players to Watch: K Robbie Gould, QB Jay Cutler, Rookie, WR Kevin White (West Virginia, injury, first 6 weeks, maybe season; Will he be able to play?), WR Alshon Jeffery, RB Matt Forte, TE Martellus Bennett, TE Zach Miller, Free Agent WR Jacquizz Rodgers (Falcons), Free Agent WR Eddie Royal (Chargers), Free Agent C Will Montgomery (Broncos), RT Jordan Mills, LT Jermon Bushrod, TE Dante Rosario, Free Agent LB Sam Acho (Cardinals), LB Matthew Wells (Traded from Patriots), LB Lamarr Houston, Free Agent SS Antrel Rolle (Giants), Free Agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars), CB Sherrick McManis, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Tim Jennings, OLB Jared Allen, Free Agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins), Rookie WR Kevin White (West Virginia, injured), Rookie DT Eddie Goldman (Florida State), Rookie C Hroniss Grasu (Oregon), Rookie RB Jeremy Langford (Michigan State), Rookie FS Adrian Amos (Penn State), Rookie OT Tayu Fabuluje (TCU)
Bet Against Chicago Bears in Regular Season: Week 1—at Home vs. Packers (Bears 1-8 ATS L9 vs Bears, 0-5 ATS L5 in Chicago; Odds: Packers -6, Pinnacle); Week 3—on Road at Seattle (Bears 2-5 ATS L7 vs. Seahawks; Week 6—on Road at Detroit (Bears 1-5 ATS L6 vs. Lions and 0-5 ATS L5 at Detroit)
Chicago Bears Futures Bets: Season Team Total Wins Under 7 -160 (Bovada)