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The Chicago Bears fired Lovie Smith after a 10-win season in 2012. They went for a more offensive-minded guy in Marc Trestman, who led the Bears to a respectable 8-8 finish in 2013 behind improved offensive play. But they stumbled to a 5-11 season last year that led to Trestman’s firing as the offense regressed in a big way, while the defense remained horrid.

Enter John Fox, who just seems to win everywhere he goes. Fox led the Broncos to a combined 38-10 record over the past three seasons, and they won the AFC West in each of his four seasons with the team. But Fox failed to produce the postseason success that John Elway expected, so he was subsequently fired.

Remember, Fox took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003 and hopes to do the same in Chicago to please this fan-crazed city. He has brought with him respected defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and Chicago will be transitioning to a 3-4 defense for the first time ever. Let’s see of Fox and company can surprise in 2015 and contend in the tough NFC North.

Last Season
NFC North
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Kevin White (WR), Eddie Goldman (DT), Hroniss Grasu (C), Jeremy Langford (RB), Adrian Amos (FS), Tayo Fabuluje (OT)
Pernell McPhee (OLB), Antrel Rolle (SS), Jarvis Jenkins (DE), Mason Foster (ILB), Sam Acho (OLB), Vladimir Ducasse (OG), Will Montgomery (C), Jacquizz Rodgers (RB), Eddie Royal (WR), Alan Ball (CB), Bear Pascoe (TE)
Brandon Marshall (WR), Lance Briggs (OLB), Charles Tillman (CB), Stephen Paea (DT), Chris Conte (FS), Eben Britton (OT), Roberto Garza (C), D.J. Williams (MLB), Dante Rosario (TE), Josh Morgan (WR), Brian De La Puente (C), Ray McDonald (DE), Danny McCray (S)
2015 Chicago Bears Schedule
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Packers +4 0.34
2 Cardinals +1 0.49
3 @ Seahawks +9 0.19
4 Raiders -6 0.71
5 @ Chiefs +4 0.34
6 @ Lions +5 0.32
8 Vikings -2 0.53
9 @ Chargers +4 0.34
10 @ Rams +4.5 0.33
11 Broncos +2.5 0.45
12 @ Packers +7.5 0.22
13 49ers +1 0.49
14 Redskins -4 0.66
15 @ Vikings +2.5 0.45
16 @ Buccaneers -1.5 0.53
17 Lions PK 0.50
Estimated Wins: 6.89

Fox was also able to coax offensive coordinator Adam Gase into coming over from Denver with him. Gase was one of the hottest head-coaching candidates this offseason as he interviewed for jobs with four different teams. Now it will be up to Gose to get the most out of Jay Cutler, which is something no offensive coordinator has been able to do before him, including Trestman.

Cutler will now be playing for his fifth different coordinator as he enters his seventh season in Chicago. Cutler’s 88.6 passer rating last season was the second-best of his career, but he led the NFL in turnovers with 24. His 18 interceptions were the second-most of his nine-year career. The talent is there, which makes his under-performing nature all the more maddening.

To be fair to Cutler, the offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL last year. Right tackle Jordan Mills and reserve blocker Michael Ola were the prime culprits. Chicago failed to find an upgrade for Mills, while Ola was forced into big minutes last year due to injuries. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod struggled last year, but he was dealing with a knee injury that forced him to miss a couple games.

Both guards return to the offensive line. Kyle Long is easily Chicago’s top blocker, but Matt Slauson played in just five games last year due to a torn pectoral muscle. Getting a health Slauson back will help this entire unit. The new center is Will Montgomery, who was brought over from Denver. While not among the best centers in the league, Montgomery will be a good fit since he’s familiar with Gase’s system. Third-round rookie Hroniss Grasu will be given an opportunity to compete for a job with Montgomery.

The biggest loss on offense is receiver Brandon Marshall, who was dealt to the Jets. But Marshall is 31 and coming off one of the worst years of his career, finishing fourth on the team in receiving. Alshon Jeffery was the better receiver with 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns. He now becomes the sure No. 1 guy, and he’ll have a new running mate in first-round rookie Kevin White, who was the No. 7 overall pick in the draft. Marcellus Bennett is back at tight end after a career year in which he caught 90 balls for 916 yards and six scores. The new slot man will be Eddie Royal, who has experience working with Cutler dating back to his Denver days.

Matt Forte remains arguably the most underrated back in the league. He accounted for 1,846 yards and 10 touchdowns last year while posting the most receptions (102) for a running back in NFL history. While Forte will remain a threat catching passes out of the backfield, he certainly won’t come close to that number again without Trestman around. The one concern with him is that he was his YPC drop from 4.6 in 2013 to 3.9 last season. Again, a lot of that can be attributed to poor offensive line play.


It is very difficult for NFL defenses to transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. That’s especially the case in Chicago, because the defense was horrific last year in ranking 30th in total defense (377.1) and 31st in scoring defense (27.6). Finding a new nose tackle to fit the scheme was a priority, so the Bears spent their second-round pick on the monstrous Eddie Goldman out of Florida State. The hope is that second-year defensive end Ego Ferguson fits the 3-4 better after struggling as a rookie last year. Jay Ratliff, the former Cowboy, should thrive in the new system. He was by far the Bears’ top defensive lineman last year and has experience in the 3-4.

The front office did a good job of signing another player used to playing in the 3-4 in former Raven Pernell McPhee. He’ll feel right at home as the top edge rusher on this defense, though he wasn’t a full-time player in Baltimore. He did well behind Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil last year, but is he ready for a bigger role? Lamarr Houston should start opposite McPhee at outside linebacker. While he’s familiar with the 3-4 scheme, he is coming off a torn ACL and may not be 100 percent. The real question is whether Jared Allen, now 33, will be able to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 for the first time in his career. Allen probably wouldn’t see the field much if Willie Young, who had 9.5 sacks last year, wasn’t coming off a torn Achilles.

The secondary ranked 30th against the pass last year in allowing 264.4 yards per game through the air. The Bears are actually solid at cornerback with Tim Jennings and 2014 first-round pick Kyle Fuller. But safety is probably the biggest position of weakness for the Bears. Newcomer Antrel Rolle figures to start at free safety, but he turns 33 in December and his best years are behind him. Brock Vereen should start at strong safety. Both could be pushed by fifth-round rookie Adrian Amos out of Penn State.

The other liability on defense comes at inside linebacker. Lance Briggs is now gone, and Brian Urlacher isn’t coming back. That leaves Jon Bostic and Mason Foster as the starters. Bostic was abused in coverage last year, while Foster hasn’t lived up to the hype in his time in Tampa Bay. The Bears ignored the position outside of signing Foster, so inside linebacker is likely to be a problem area again in 2015.

Odds (Courtesy of 5Dimes)
Season Win Total
to Make Playoffs
to Win NFC North
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl 50
Season Predictions

The Bears have only been to the playoffs once in the past eight years. I’m not the only one who believes this isn’t a one-year fix. They did go out and get one of the best head coaching candidates on the market in Fox, who has taken teams to the Super Bowl in his two other previous stops in Carolina and Denver.

As long as Cutler is the quarterback, I just cannot take the Bears seriously. He’ll be playing for his fifth offensive coordinator in seven years. He has the talent around him in White, Jeffery, Bennett and Forte that should lead to success, but the offensive line play is not good. The defense has some big holes at safety and inside linebacker, and the transition to a 3-4 will be tough, though they can’t be as poor as they were last year on this side of the ball.

The Bears are listed as underdogs in 11 of their 16 games, and I believe the oddsmakers have gotten that correct. I have Chicago going 5-11 in 2015 and finishing in last place in the stacked NFC North. It will take at least another year or two for Fox to show some real progress, but it’s not going to happen until the Bears move on from Cutler.

2015 Projections
NFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
Under 7
Bears 10-Year Results
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 5 11 Trestman 8.5
2013 8 8 Trestman 8.5
2012 10 6 Smith 9.5
2011 8 8 Smith 8.5
2010 11 5 Lost Conf Smith 8
2009 7 9 Smith 8.5
2008 9 7 Smith 8
2007 7 9 Smith 10
2006 13 3 Lost SB Smith 9
2005 11 5 Lost Div Smith 7

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