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Bear Market? Why Chicago Could Win NFC North

Division Crown Up for Grabs

The Green Bay Packers have won the NFC North in eight of the last 12 seasons. However, the Packers are headed in a new direction with Jordan Love at quarterback. The Minnesota Vikings finished 13-4 last season, and the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears are headed in the right direction. The NFC North is truly wide open, making it one of the most unpredictable divisions for NFL expert picks.

Green Bay plummeted to the last choice to win the NFC North on betting markets (+450). The Lions are favored (+125) with the Vikings priced at +300 and the Bears at +350. Among these NFL odds, Chicago could be worth the bet. It offers more profit than Detroit and Minnesota and is less risky than the Packers. Check out why you should back the Bears in the NFC North market.

Bear Market? Why Chicago Could Win NFC North
Justin Fields & Khalil Herbert - sarah stier / getty images north america / getty images via afp

Big Spenders in the Offseason

Chicago entered the season with the most salary cap space in the NFL at $96.9 million. The Bears upgraded while not overspending. The defense had to be addressed after finishing last in allowed points per game last season. The linebacker corps was completely revamped with the signings of Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards. Chicago also drafted Noah Sewell of Oregon in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, which could be a terrific value. Edmunds was the gem of free agency. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and could unlock All-Pro potential in the Windy City.

Eberflus and his HITS literally preaches turnovers (the T).

Seeing Tremaine Edmunds get an interception yesterday made me smile 😏 hope to get lots of these during the season 🐻⬇️ pic.twitter.com/zgKUh95eGJ

— DeeksView (@DeeksViewOG) May 24, 2023

The Bears also signed defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker to a three-year, $21 million deal. This deal went under the radar but Walker comes off a good season with the Tennessee Titans. Chicago continued to upgrade its weak defensive line by drafting defensive tackles Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens. Both should be important pieces this season, bringing a boost to the run defense.

Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson was also an excellent pick in the second round. He could give Jaylon Johnson a solid running mate. Stevenson could be a sleeper pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The sportsbook currently has no odds for the Miami product, but that could quickly change. His large frame and ability to play press coverage should provide an instant impact.

The offense’s skill position players were also upgraded. Tight end Robert Tonyan jumped ship from the Packers, joining the Bears. Tonyan gives Chicago great depth at the position behind Cole Kmet. Chicago lost running back David Montgomery in free agency, replacing him with D’Onte Foreman and rookie Roschon Johnson.

The big move of the offseason was trading down from the No. 1 pick, acquiring a package of picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore from the Carolina Panthers. This took a large chunk out of the Bears’ cap space with Moore getting paid about $52 million over the next three years. The trade was still absolutely worth it considering Chicago’s need for a No. 1 wide receiver and the made it with a haul of picks.

Surely the Bears have close to no money left after an eventful offseason, right? Think again. Chicago still leads the league with about $32 million in cap space. The front office did enough to make the Bears competitive for the 2023 season while stockpiling money for future upgrades.

Dominating Run Game Could Fuel Turnaround

Chicago clearly made enough upgrades to take the next step. However, going from 3-14 to win the division would be an incredible turnaround. Are the Bears really capable of pulling this off?

Don’t sleep on Chicago’s returning players. Quarterback Justin Fields silenced a lot of doubters last season by snapping several records. His legs were tearing through opposing defenses. Fields erupted for 178 rushing yards against the Miami Dolphins, which was the most rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history. He also posted 147 rushing yards the following week against the Detroit Lions. Who was the last Bear to total at least 147 rushing yards in back-to-back games? Walter Payton, is one of the greatest running backs of all time.

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The Bears boasted the best run game in the league, averaging 177.3 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry. This is one major reason to back Chicago in your NFL picks. The rushing attack should be elite once again, even with the loss of Montgomery. Khalil Herbert was better than Montgomery last season, averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per carry. Herbert could thrive as the lead man in the backfield. Foreman also shined with the Panthers, totaling 877 yards in the final 11 games of the season.

The NFC North does not have great run defenses, either. In fact, the Lions, Packers, and Vikings all finished 21st or worse in allowed rushing yards per game. Among the three teams, Detroit’s run defense could improve the most with the addition of rookie linebacker Jack Campbell and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. However, it would be a surprise if the Lions made a huge jump after finishing 29th in the category last season.

Chicago looked to upgrade its offensive line, led by rookie offensive tackle Darnell Wright, who was selected with the No. 10 pick. Fields is drawing some interest for the MVP Award in NFL predictions (+1600). Of course, the Bears would have to win the division if Fields were to compete for this prestigious hardware.

Many expect the passing game to improve after ranking last in yards per game last season. It makes perfect sense. The Bears have an intriguing receiving corps with Moore, DarnellMooney, and Chase Claypool. If the O-line improves, the play-action game should be unlocked, creating a lot of easy opportunities for Fields to connect on big plays.

Fields’ ability to be consistently accurate is still a concern. He has yet to become a reliable passer, but with an improved supporting cast, this could be the year when the third-year QB takes off.

The schedule is pretty favorable as well. Outside of the division, the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints look like the toughest opponents. The road trip to Kansas City in Week 3 is the only game that looks unwinnable. Per NFL lines, Chicago’s win total sits at 7½. The over at -130 is difficult to pass up.

Ultimately, the Bears have revealed how they intend to win – by dominating the run game. The offense should be successful on the ground once again and an improved passing game could create a menacing play-action attack. Chicago focused on upgrading its defensive tackles and linebackers. If the Bears have a solid run defense, they will control the clock in nearly every game, limiting possessions. This would give Chicago a shot in nearly every game.

Picking the Bears to win the NFC North could yield big results. This is not an unrealistic pick by any means. Chicago could shock a lot of people. Welcome aboard the Bears hype train.

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