Bears looking to win back-to-back NFC North titles for first time since 2005-06
The 2018 Chicago Bears were arguably the biggest surprise in the NFL last year. They posted a 12-4 record, had their first winning season since 2012 (10-6), and pulled off two other feats by winning their first division title and making their first playoff appearance since 2010. The momentum started early with the Labor Day trade that brought All-Pro pass rusher Kahlil Mack into the fold and turned what was already a talented defense into the league's top-ranked unit.
Rookie head coach Matt Nagy also put his stamp on the team early, first by overseeing a much-needed culture change and then by transforming the Bears offense into one of the more efficient teams in the NFL (26.3 ppg, 343.9 ypg).
As the Bears prepare for the 2019 campaign they return many familiar faces, they brought in some free agents to add depth, and have an exciting rookie class on board. They may have some issues to sort out with their kicking and tight end positions, and they have a new defensive coordinator in former Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano. But this team is primed for another winning season.
Athlon Sports asked several experts to share their realistic win/loss projection for Chicago in 2019.
Chicago Bears Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The Bears have a difficult schedule and two big question marks going into the season. How big of a step forward can Mitchell Trubisky take this year? And on the defense, will this unit miss coordinator Vic Fangio (now the head coach at Denver). If Trubisky continues to develop, and the defense doesn’t fall off last year’s levels, then there’s a good chance Chicago will repeat as the NFC North champion.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMark)
Simply stated, I don't see the Bears repeating last year's 12-4 record. For starters, the schedule is tougher. Crossover pairings with the AFC West and NFC East mean four games against teams that made the playoffs last season, including a rematch with the Eagles. And don't forget about Green Bay and Minnesota, a pair of teams that isn't ready to concede control of the division. And while the defense should remain among the best in the league, it will be very difficult to replicate last season's 36 takeaways, including 27 interceptions. Even slight regression in that department could turn close games in the other direction. Last season, Chicago went 6-5 in games decided by seven or fewer points, including the playoff loss. That's enough for me to predict a slight step backward in the win column although this is still a team that remains a serious threat in the NFC.
Gabe Salgado (@GabeSalgado82)
The Bears repeat with a 12-4 record but only because this year’s schedule is slightly tougher than last year. They’ll split the four games with the AFC West. Denver will be good on defense (thanks to former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio) but the Bears will take advantage of their question marks at quarterback. Antonio Brown or not, the Oakland Raiders are still rebuilding to some degree. But the offenses of both the Chiefs (led by MVP Patrick Mahomes) and Chargers (372.6 ypg last season) will give the Bears fits.
The defending NFC champion Rams will win the rematch with the Bears thanks to home-field advantage where they won’t have to deal with the winter elements as they did at Soldier Field. The wins over the Cowboys, Eagles, and Saints will be decided by single digits, and Chicago also gives Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins his welcome to the NFL on the Monday night stage. The Bears will dominate the NFC North again although their losing streak at Lambeau Field (currently three games) will continue. But when all is said and done, Chicago will make repeat playoff appearances for the first time since the Lovie Smith era.