2018 Chicago Bears Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
Have the Chicago Bears finally entered the modern era of football?
This is one of the most conservative franchises in the NFL, principally owned by Virginia Halas McCaskey. She is the eldest child of former Bears coach and owner George Halas, who left the team to his daughter upon his death in 1983. Frankly, the Bears have been stuck in the stone ages for years as they don't take chances. Hire some bland, defensive-minded head coach and win with a punishing defense and ball control offense. It's boring and outdated.
That formula worked with Mike Ditka and some with Lovie Smith but failed with guys like Dave Wannstedt and, most recently, John Fox. The latter was an ugly 14-34 in his three seasons, and the Bears were one of the worst ATS teams in the league in that stretch. Fox's offense, if you want to call it that, was archaic.
Bears fans are thrilled that new-age GM Ryan Pace threw out the playbook and hired a young, bright offensive mind as the new head coach in Matt Nagy. He was the former offensive coordinator in Kansas City under Andy Reid, and the Chiefs ran some of the most imaginative offensive schemes in the league in 2017. Pace also focused mostly on offense in free agency and the draft to surround second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky with playmakers: receivers Allen Robinson (Jaguars), Taylor Gabriel (Falcons), Anthony Miller (second-round draft pick from Memphis) and tight end Trey Burton (who, frankly, is basically a big slot receiver).
Trubisky showed some signs of potential stardom last year but overall struggled; it really wasn't his fault in the league's most vanilla offense and with the NFL's worst group of receivers. This year, we find out if Trubisky is a franchise quarterback. Some believe the Bears could be this year's Rams, going from a bland, lousy team to dynamic offensive playoff club. The similarities are there with a second-year QB (Jared Goff in L.A. last year) and young, offensive-minded first-year coach (Sean McVay with the Rams). It's not an accident that Pace followed that blueprint. The NFL is nothing if not a copycat league.
Chicago was 2-6 on the road last season, 3-5 against the spread and 2-6 "over/under." The Bears travel to two playoff teams from 2017: Buffalo at Minnesota. The home schedule is way harder. I project a 3-5 road mark. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 9 at Packers (-8, 47.5): The NFL's oldest rivalry is the first Sunday night game of the year. The Bears then have their home opener the following Monday vs. Seattle, and that's it for scheduled prime-time games. Chicago is the second-biggest Week 1 dog behind Tampa Bay in New Orleans, and that only passed this one when Jameis Winston was suspended. If Nagy wins his first game as coach in Green Bay, he'll never have to buy another drink in the Windy City again and should demand an immediate contract extension. Key trend: Bears 4-6 ATS in past 10 as at least a 7-point road dog in series.
Sept. 23 at Cardinals (-1): In an odd twist, Nagy will face the same first three teams as Fox did in his first season as Bears coach in 2015 when he opened with losses to the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks. Remember that the 2017 Bears began the year with Mike Glennon as their starting QB? He's now third string in Arizona, so it would take disaster for Glennon to play here (if he's even on the team). Key trend: Bears 3-3 ATS in Arizona.
Oct. 14 at Dolphins (-1.5): Bears out of their too-early bye week. It's Chicago's first game against its former offensive coordinator, Adam Gase. Many Bears fans wanted Fox fired a couple of years ago and Gase promoted to the top job. Miami's new OC? Last year's Bears OC, Dowell Loggains. Key trend: Bears 3-2 ATS in Miami.
Nov. 4 at Bills (-1.5): Only road game sandwiched in between four at home for Chicago. If the team has any playoff hopes, it has to go at least 4-1 in that five-game stretch. The last time the Bears won in Buffalo, Nagy was 18 months old (1979). Key trend: Bears 0-3 ATS in Buffalo.
Nov. 22 at Lions (-5): Thanksgiving game. Since the Bears fired Smith after beating the Lions in the 2012 season finale in Detroit, they are 1-9 against their NFC North teams. Chicago lost 20-10 in Motown in Week 15 last year. Trubisky threw for a career-high 314 yards but was picked off three times. Key trend: Bears 5-5 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Dec. 2 at Giants (-3.5): The schedule gets incredibly tougher after this one. Matchup of the past two No. 2 overall picks in Trubisky and Saquon Barkley. Chicago lost at the Giants in November 2016, 22-16, but more than half the Bears' starters from then are gone. Key trend: Bears 4-1 ATS at Giants.
Dec. 23 at 49ers (-6): It's well-known that the Bears and Pace lusted for Jimmy Garoppolo as he's from the Chicago area and starred at Eastern Illinois, which is also where Pace played. Alas, the Patriots wouldn't deal Jimmy G until last season and then Chicago had no use for him. His 49ers starting debut was a 15-14 win in Chicago in Week 13 last year. Key trend: Bears 2-7 ATS at San Francisco.
Dec. 30 at Vikings (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. It's the fourth time in the last five years the Bears will finish the season in Minneapolis. Fox and Marc Trestman were both fired after finales there. Pretty sure Nagy won't be. Chicago closed out the Fox era with a 23-10 loss at US Bank Stadium last year. Key trend: Bears 4-6 ATS in past 10 at Vikings.
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