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2022 NFL Preview: Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have officially entered rebuild mode. Following a 6-11 finish fillwed with numerous questionable decisions, head coach Matt Nagy was fired and replaced with Matt Eberflus — the former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator.

Quarterback Justin Fields will get a full season of starting under his belt. However, Chicago’s surrounding cast is a big problem. On defense, the Bears are hoping for young players to step up.

2022 NFL Preview: Chicago Bears
EZRA SHAW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Continue reading for the Bears’ NFL odds, roster and forecast.

Chicago Bears Odds

  • To win NFC North +1600
  • To win NFC +6600
  • To win Super Bowl +12500
  • To make playoffs Yes +400/ No -600

Bears Offense

Seeing Fields’ progress is vital. Chicago’s future will look much brighter if Fields proves he is a franchise quarterback.

The Bears’ surrounding cast is perhaps the worst in the NFL. Fields will get little protection from a bad offensive line. There is some hope on the O-line. Rookie tackle Braxton Jones has been a big surprise and Riley Reiff is solid when healthy. Also, Cody Whitehair is a solid starting guard. If healthy, the offensive line could be a bit better than expected.

Darnell Mooney is the only reliable receiver at this point.

Rookie wideout Velus Jones and tight end Cole Kmet could emerge as solid targets. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert form a good running back duo. With a bad offensive line, the Bears managed to rank 15th in rushing yards per game (118.7) in 2021.

The offense’s success will start and end with Fields.

Player to Watch: QB Justin Fields

Bears Defense

Chicago opted for youth on defense. The Bears did not re-sign defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also, edge rusher Khalil Mack was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers.

In the 2022 NFL Draft, Chicago added cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker. Both have impressed, especially Brisker. Unfortunately, Brisker had surgery for a broken thumb, but he could play Week 1.

All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith will play the final year of his rookie contract. A few weeks ago, Smith requested a trade due to extension disputes. Safety Eddie Jackson will need a bounce-back year after struggling in 2021. Jaylon Johnson will look to take a step forward as the Bears’ No. 1 corner. Robert Quinn will be the lead pass rusher coming off 18.5 sacks.

If Gordon and Brisker play well, this could be a solid defense.

Player to Watch: LB Roquan Smith

Bears Team Strength

On offense, Chicago’s running backs are easily its best group. Montgomery has rushed for over 800 yards in three consecutive seasons. In 2020, he finished with over 1,500 scrimmage yards. Herbert had a good rookie season, averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

The secondary could turn into a strength. Johnson, Gordon and Brisker are young players with high ceilings. Eddie Jackson is the veteran of the secondary. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and earned All-Pro honors in 2018.

Bears Team Weakness

The offensive line and receivers are big weaknesses. Mooney had a great second season with 1,055 receiving yards, but he has not shown enough to be a No. 1 target. In addition, N’Keal Harry will be out a number of weeks with a high ankle sprain. This leaves Jones, Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown to fill the group.

As mentioned, the offensive line has a bit of hope, but most expect it to be one of the NFL’s worst units. Jones and Reiff could be decent tackles. Teven Jenkins will likely start at right guard; he has struggled to stay healthy. Also, Reiff missed a number of games with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. Guard Cody Whitehair and center Lucas Patrick are solid starters.

Bears Forecast

This will be a tough season for Bears fans. Hitting the over on their 6 ½ win total seems unlikely. There are few strengths on the roster. With many young players holding key roles, Chicago will be inconsistent.

Overall, the 2022 season will be about progress. Can rookies like Gordon and Brisker establish themselves as good starters? The Bears will have something to build around if Fields proves he is a future star.

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