Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Team Preview
2017 Record: 5-11
2017 ATS: 8-7-1
2017 Overs/Unders: 4-12
2018 Regular Season Wins Total: 6.5 wins
The day after the 2017 regular season ended, John Fox was fired after three seasons at the helm for the Chicago Bears. No single off-season move was more important for Chicago. Fox was a train wreck during his tenure as he posted a 14-34 mark overall. He was as conservative as they come and employed a 1970’s style of football in an era where the NFL has seen an explosion in passing and offensive creativity.
Fox is out and in comes new head coach Matt Nagy, the former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bears also brought in former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich as their new offensive coordinator. Given the strong offensive background of those two, there’s no question that the Bears will open things up more in 2018. We should see a lot more shotgun and spread formations along with a heavy dose of RPO. The Bears will no longer be agonizingly predictable on offense. That means Bears’ second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky will finally get a true crack at showing what he’s got without the kid gloves on. Trubisky put up rather pedestrian numbers in 2017 (2,193 yards and a 59.4% completion rate in 12 games), but that was to be expected under Fox and given his lack of quality receiver options. Chicago added some nice weapons in the off-season, bringing in Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel via free agency and drafting Anthony Miller (Memphis) in the second round. Quarterbacks usually take a big step forward in year two and I think Trubisky will with much better options at this disposal. The Bears ranked 28th in offensive efficiency last year so there’s plenty of room for improvement.
The running game features one of the best one-two punches in the NFL in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. They should only get better as opposing teams will no longer be able to consistently stack the box with eight defenders with Nagy and Helfrich spreading things out. Cohen is a tremendous pass-catcher and a great change-of-pace guy on third downs. Look for more touches from him with Helfrich running the offense. Bears’ games went 12-4 to the UNDER last season, including 6-0 down the stretch. That should change dramatically in 2018 with the Bears new look.
The Bears were much improved defensively in 2017. They were in the top half in most of the key defensive metrics despite going up against one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Chicago also suffered through a bevy of injuries that ravaged the defense at times last year. They should take another step forward with better health, eight starters returning and the addition of first round selection LB Roquan Smith (8th overall pick from Georgia). Vic Fangio was also retained as defensive coordinator and that was a wise decision by the organization.
The Bears’ future is looking much brighter than is has in recent years. While Nagy is far from a proven commodity as a head coach, there’s no question he will be an improvement over Fox. Add in another year under Trubisky’s belt, more weapons to throw to and a strong running game, and this Bears offense could make some big strides in 2018. The defense is underrated and will keep the team in most games. The betting markets aren’t giving Chicago much respect with their season win total sitting at just 6.5 wins. I’m not sure I’m ready to fire on OVER 6.5 wins in a very tough NFC Central, but I think there will be some value in backing the Bears in several spots this season.
Bettors Should Keep an Eye On: The Bears’ offensive line. There are still lots of question marks on the line and I’m not certain that they’re capable of successfully running RPO unless they improve significantly up front. We should know by the end of Week 2 or Week 3.