As Bears fans, I can safely assume that none of us was ultimately happy with the end result of the 2013 season. Our offense finally started to click, yet once again, we just failed to make the playoffs. Let's take a bit of a closer look at the numbers to hopefully get a better look at what to expect for the 2014 season. The hot new craze in the NFL is running a lot of plays. Chip Kelly and the Eagles are the ones on the forefront, but Manning and the Broncos take it to a new level. But I scanned over the numbers for number of offensive plays run and there didn't seem to be any sort of correlation. But when you look at scoring combined with number of plays, it actually starts to tell a story. If you take the total points and divide it by the number of plays run, you end up with number of points scored per play. This gives you a value of how efficient the offense is. When you rank the best points per play teams, suddenly you have a stat that seems to show something.
Teams 1 and 4 were in the Super Bowl. Only 3 teams in the top half didn't make the playoffs. So it isn't necessarily how many points you score or how many plays you run, it's how efficiently you're running plays. The good news? The Bears were ranked #3 in points per play. NUMBER THREE! The only other teams in the top 10 to not make the playoffs were the Dallas Cowboys.
So how do we use this to project the upcoming season? We bring back the whole starting offense. We have a QB who has spent the off-season working on his craft. We have the quarterback guru head coach with a year under his belt and the whole offense having a year to live and learn the playbook. So I don't expect much, if any, fall off on the offensive end for the Bears. So I again expect them to be around the top 5 in points per play. However, the difference will lie in the defense.
Statistically, the Bears had the 2nd to last ranked defense. That's terrible. But if you factor in a healthy squad and the upgrades through the draft and free agency, you make a fair assumption that the Bears defense will be around middle of the pack. If they are middle of the pack, we are looking at a 104 point swing in number of points allowed and another 60 less plays the opposing teams will run. If less opposing plays allowed equates to more plays run...we can estimate another 30 points in the season. This easily puts the Bears into the playoffs as a wildcard, if not the division title.
Denver was the #1 offense based on points per play and had the 15th ranked defense...Super Bowl. Having the Chicago Bears in this position is not beyond the realm of possibility.
All of this is assuming no major injuries or minimal major injuries.
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