2015 Chicago Bears Predictions: 4th NFC North (2014 record: 5-11)
Head Coach: John Fox
NFC North Division Odds: +1550
Super Bowl Champion Odds: +11,000
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 6.5 (-105), Under 6.5 (-125)
Key Additions: Eddie Royal (WR), Kevin White (WR), Eddie Goldman (NT), Pernell McPhee (OLB/DE)
Key Losses: Brandon Marshall (WR), Stephen Paea (DT), Lance Briggs (LB)
The toxicity that is Jay Cutler spread even further last season. If he doesn’t care about winning football games then why is he even still around? New coach John Fox shouldn’t be quite the pushover that Marc Trestman was; perhaps he’ll have the stones to make Cutler take some accountability for his actions, or lack thereof.
OK, so the Bears failures weren’t completely Culter’s fault. The defense seemingly took another step backwards and allowed a horrid 28 points per game. Fox is switching to a 3-4 alignment, so a few growing pains could appear, but the personnel appears to be better suited for it. Goldman and incumbent DT Jay Ratliff should hold the interior of the line just fine. A return to health from DE/OLB Lamarr Houston is paramount to the pass rush, as fellow end Jared Allen’s game isn’t really suited for this shift. McPhee will be getting his first shot at a full-time roll, and was tutored nicely by the likes of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. There are worse mentors to have. He’ll be a nice addition to the pass rush. The secondary needs a healthy pass rush, as they were tested often last year.
The safety spot is the biggest concern, and Giants import Antrel Rolle probably isn’t the answer. At 33, he’s seen better days and was burned frequently last year. ILB will be problematic as well. Long time star Lance Briggs is gone, leaving mason Foster and Jon Bostic as the starters. Neither is very good, and the position has zero depth.
Look, there’s never been any denying the talent that Cutler brings to the table. If he wasn’t such a head case, we’d be talking a potential Hall of Fame career here. Maybe Fox can get through to him If so, Cutler still possesses some decent weapons.
Alshon Jeffery followed his breakout season with another great year and will assume the #1 role with Brandon Marshall’s departure. Top pick Kevin White should step right in and be a solid option as well. He’s got the size and athleticism that Marshall has, though he is a bit raw. Rookie receivers, though, had some big performances last season – White has the potential to follow suit. If he’s not quite ready, the Bears signed Eddie Royal over from the Chargers and he can fill the role just fine. TE Martellus Bennett and the venerable Matt Forte at RB round out the nice options that Cutler has.
The line needed some help and received a new center from Denver in Will Montgomery. He’ll help, as will the fact that the rest of the group played together last season. Fox normally has some good lines, so maybe he can bring the same to Chicago.
The division above them is improving, and the Bears aren’t doing a good job of playing ‘keep up.’ It’ll take Fox a couple of years to get his type of personnel onto the roster. In the meantime, the Bears will be looking at a top five pick and, potentially, their QB of the future after this season. UNDER