The Bears focus during the off-season was on improving a defensive front seven that ranked 32nd against the rush and 23rd vs. the pass
John Fox made his Chicago head coaching debut in 2015, promptly losing three-straight games to open the season. From Week’s 4 through 12, the Bears became cover machines (5-1-1 ATS) but the club wilted down the stretch, winning just one of their final five games. Injuries to skill positions on offense, a weak front seven and poor special teams plagued the team all season but Chicago has addressed the issues on defense and we’ll look for big improvements in D-Co Vic Fangio’s second year.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 6-10 SU and 7-8-1 ATS
Over/Under: 8-7-1 O/U
Noteworthy: The Bears were a pup in 14 of 16 games last season, leading the league for ‘number of covers’ as a dog of +3 points or more (7-3 ATS).
Danny Trevathan (Broncos), Jerrell Freeman (Colts) and Akiem Hicks (Pats) were acquired via free agency to join 330-pound tackle Eddie Goldman, who played 15 games during his rookie year. Ninth overall pick Leonard Floyd and third rounder Jonathan Bullard add some depth and the hope is that better production out of the front will create more opportunities for the secondary to make plays. In four years with San Francisco, Fangio’s defense averaged 1.91 takeaways per game (4th overall) and last year the Bears ranked 28th with just 1.06 per game.
Adam Gase departed for the vacant HC position in Miami which means QB Jay Cutler will start 2016 with his sixth offensive coordinator (Dowell Loggains) in eight seasons but they’re keeping the same system, which Cutler is comfortable with. Chicago was 25th in pass attempts per game last year (32.7), down from 38.1 the previous year, but Cutler only threw 11 picks. If Alshon Jeffrey and Kevin White can stay healthy and Cutler continues to develop, this offense has potential to rank inside the top 10. Note that Chicago was 3-1 SU/ATS in the four games last year where they attempted more than 10 passes than rushes on offense (best win-percentage in the league).
BEARS BOTTOM LINE: BOTTOM FEEDERS
Thanks to a poor record, Chicago plays five games this season vs. foes that allowed more than 65-percent completions in 2016 — the Lions (twice), Bucs, Giants and Niners — and four of five take place during the second-half (Week 10 out). The Bears should be gelling by then and you may want to circle these matchups for potential spots to bet Chicago early in the week.