Last year the Chicago Bears were the bottom feeders of the NFC North with a 6-10 record. They went 1-5 in the division, being swept by the NFC North Champion Minnesota Vikings and the 3rd place Detroit Lions, and their lone win was against the Green Bay Packers on a beautiful Thanksgiving night. (This would be the perfect time for someone to throw that GIF of an angry Aaron Rodgers in our comment section.)
All of Chicago’s six divisional games were close, except the week 15 contest against the Vikes when they lost 17-38. But in their other four loses, the average score differential was less that a touchdown at 4.5 points. In fact, of all the 4th place finishers in the eight divisions, the Bears’ net points of -62 (335 points for - 397 points against) was the smallest margin.
Yeah the 2015 season was bad, but it wasn’t 2014 bad.
If head coach John Fox has the Bears on a similar track like his other two stops in the NFL, he’ll get get them to the top of the division this year. It’ll be a tough climb, in a tough division, but seemingly every season there’s at least one team that goes worst to first.
Why can’t it be the Bears?
ESPN Insider recently looked at the teams with the best chance of going worst to first and they ranked the Bears 5th behind the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
First off, there’s no way the Bucs are leapfrogging the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. That team looks poised for another march to the Super Bowl.
The Titans and the Cowboys do play in divisions where a 9 win team landed on top last year, so I could see those happening. Quarterback play will be the key for both of those franchises, with Marcus Mariota’s development and Tony Romo’s health being critical to their success.
The Chargers, like the Bears, play in a division that had two playoff teams in it, so both of their ascents will be difficult.
Here’s what ESPN had to say about the Bears.
Playoff odds: 21.7 percent (28th)
The good news: Chicago is probably not going to have 83 pass targets going to Josh Bellamy, Marc Mariani and Cameron Meredith. It's a lot better to throw to a healthy Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. The bad news: Chicago will miss Matt Forte, particularly in the passing game. The offensive line has very little continuity from last season. And the defense, which has been near the bottom of the league for three straight years, should be better in the second year of Vic Fangio's scheme, but the free agents who spur a defense to take a significant leap forward are usually pass-rushers or star cornerbacks, not inside linebackers such as Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan.
The o-line gelling is the most important facet for the Bears’ O and I’m not really concerned about the running backs. If the line comes together, there will be creases for the backs to hit, and I think someone will develop as a pass catcher out of the backfield for them.
How would you rant the worst to first possibilities of the eight cellar dwellers?