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Can the Bears Reach the Playoffs in 2021?

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Can the Bears Reach the Playoffs in 2021?
Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears. James Gilbert/Getty Images/AFP

One of the main topics of debate at this time of the year usually involves projecting the teams that will or will not make the playoffs. In the case of the Chicago Bears, the subject of this piece, early projections are dire indeed. So much so, that if the question of whether the Bears would make the playoffs in 2021 were put forward to any panel of experts now, the answer would have to be a resounding “No.”

Chicago Bears Longshots in Betting

After back-to-back disappointing seasons, expectations for the Chicago Bears are fittingly modest at best. In fact, according to the latest serving of early NFL Futures, the Bears are predicted to have another disappointing season.

Chicago is one of the two huge underdogs in the NFC North to clinch the divisional title (the other being the Detroit Lions). And they’re similarly disadvantaged against their peers in the NFC and league as a whole.

As per BetOnline sportsbook (visit our BetOnline Review), the Bears are priced at +1600 to win the NFC and at +5000 to win Super Bowl 56 – both of which markets put Chicago amongst the quintessential longshots for the 2021 NFL season.

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is forced out of the pocket by Barkevious Mingo #50 and Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears. Quinn Harris/Getty Images/AF

Green Bay Packers the Team To Beat in the NFC North

The Green Bay Packers have dominated the NFC North for the better part of the last decade and they’ve won back-to-back division titles on the route to the NFC Championship game in the last two seasons. That standout form makes the Packers the team to beat in the NFC North, not to mention the NFC as a whole.

Multiple oddsmakers have the Packers priced as the third-best bet for Super Bowl 56 picks, after the Chiefs and Buccaneers. As per BetOnline, the Packers are priced at +1200 to win SBLVI and at +600 to win the NFC.

The Packers are the standard of the NFC North and one of the hot faves in Super Bowl 56 futures. Unless the Packers suffer some sort of unforeseen and unfortunate setback in the coming season, they’re going to be nigh impossible to beat. The Chicago Bears did win the NFC North title three years ago, but in hindsight it was largely down to the fact that their rivals – the Packers, Lions and Vikings – all had their fair share of woes, injuries, struggles and so on.

Quarterback Andy Dalton during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

Matt Nagy and QB Play Under the Microscope

The pessimism practically leaps off of the NFL odds board in every market – and for good reason. Matt Nagy is on the hot seat, his job well and truly on the line after leading the Bears to consecutive 8-8-0 SU seasons; and the quarterback position presents a huge question mark after Mitch Trubisky was shown the Exit door in the offseason.

Granted veteran Andy Dalton was brought in to complement Nick Foles in the quarterback room, but he’s hardly an upgrade on Trubisky. Never mind the fact that the team on the whole needs a complete workover.

For a brief moment, there was speculation that the Chicago Bears would land one of several sought-after quarterbacks this offseason. And that speculation caused Chicago Bears’ odds to improve slightly across the board. Signal callers such as Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz cropped up in the rumor mill as potential signings, as well Russell Wilson was being floated more and more as a “dream” alternative after he’d voiced displeasure with his current situation in Seattle.

Signing a marquee quarterback would have done wonders for the Bears’ value and credibility amongst bettors. However, when it was announced that the Bears had signed Dallas Cowboys’ cast-off, Andy Dalton, instead… Well, the Bears’ odds plummeted almost immediately. The implication clear: Dandy Andy simply doesn’t cut it.

It is often said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Nick Foles was signed last year to bolster the quarterback position, but that didn’t go to plan. So, signing another veteran signal caller – who has done the rounds of a couple of teams (Cincy and Dallas) to mediocre outcomes in the last two seasons – to try to accomplish what Foles should have for Chicago last season is a bit perplexing.

It begs the question: what’s Chicago’s real objective for 2021? The answer to which is a mystery because their offseason moves so far aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement for their chances to make the playoffs.

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Odds Stacked Against Chicago

The first week of the 2021 NFL season is still a long way away. A lot can happen between now and then that could have a meaningful impact on the odds. There’s more wheeling and dealing that’s likely to take place and the 2021 NFL draft to consider. That said, the quarterback position is one of the most important positions with the most impact in the betting when it comes to determining a team’s value. A team will go as far as its quarterback can take it… you could say.

Seeing Dandy Andy filling that pivotal role takes the shine off Chicago’s odds, even though it’s a great opportunity for him on a personal level. A second chance after his year in Dallas to prove himself as a viable starting quarterback in the league.

One doesn’t want to begrudge him the opportunity, but whether he’ll have a more successful stint in the windy city than he did in Jerry’s world only time will tell. As things currently stand, it’s impossible to consider the Bears as a playoff team or as a bona fide Super Bowl contender.

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