Like seven round mock drafts that are as accurate as 365-day weather forecasts, predicting an NFL team’s season in April can be faulty. The NFL Draft hasn’t happened. Positional battles haven’t been completed. The evolution of players that happens over the course of the meatiest actual on-field part of the off-season hasn’t transpired either.
We’ve already known the Bears’ opponents since the 2017 regular season ended. Why would an official schedule release revealing the order of games they play in 2018 change anything? The NFL is a league that’s primarily decided by the talent on the field, and how that talent is prepared and managed by quality coaching (or lack thereof).
That’s not a novel concept.
Chicago was always going to play a brutal gauntlet against the NFC North. Look at any of the Vikings, Lions, or Packers. The Bears haven’t won on the road in Minnesota or Detroit since 2012. They’ve beaten the Packers once in their last eight meetings. They had the league’s powerhouse in the Patriots on the docket. The rising Rams were set to visit. That is an objectively difficult schedule, on paper, on the field, anywhere.
The advantages offered by scheduling are minimal at best with the upper crust teams. Cream eventually rises to the top.
What actually only matters about the schedule is fans being able to schedule trips, buy tickets, and shell out for their favorite organizations. The consequence of what matters to players and coaches couldn’t matter less in retrospect.
However, with this being said, we’ll still predict how the 2018 season goes for the Bears. This time of year, hope exists, albeit in minimal spurts. Because if we didn’t have inexact sciences, how would this sports world function? (It would get along fine.)
The Bears are a young team led by a young quarterback and first time head coach. Hot take: they’re going to surprise on occasion moving forward. They’re also going to have mind-numbing inconsistency. The nature of the beast.
Week 1 at Green Bay Packers, “Sunday Night Football”, September 9th, 7:20 p.m. CT
While I’m of firm belief the Bears’ roster has largely caught up with the Packers (I think it’s better overall), until Chicago proves it can consistently slay the human dragon known as Aaron Rodgers: I’ll hold off on picking them to win any primetime games in Green Bay. Games like Thanksgiving 2015 are an aberration. Perhaps the Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky era changes this fact, but for now the Bears deserve no benefit of the doubt. The Packers’ open to their 100th season goes off without a hitch.
Season Record: 0-1
Week 2 vs. Seattle Seahawks, “Monday Night Football”, September 17th, 7:15 p.m. CT
The “Legion of Boom” is no more. Richard Sherman is off to California pastures. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are past their primes. The primary detractor to a Seattle dynasty - one of the worst offensive lines of the modern era - is ever present.
Russell Wilson is a great quarterback. He’s a quarterback capable of winning games on his own against any opponent. He won’t be enough to beat the rising Bears in the home debut of Nagy.
Season Record: 1-1
Week 3 at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, September 23rd, 3:25 p.m. CT
Arizona has one of the worst rosters in football and is likely working in a young quarterback, or for some reason: playing Sam Bradford or Mike Glennon early in 2018. The Bears should be favored big to take advantage of whomever is under center.
Season Record: 2-1
Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, September 30th, Noon CT
I think the turnover prone Jameis Winston is well on his way towards bust status and is one of the worst current starting quarterbacks in the NFL. I think the Buccaneers should start over at quarterback. In their last two meetings, the Bears have lost in embarrassing fashion to Tampa Bay. I think a honed-in Chicago team takes care of business this time around. Winston is “eating no W’s” here.
Season Record: 3-1
Week 5: Bye Week
Under John Fox, the Bears found a way to lose their bye weeks (even though that’s literally impossible). Maybe it’s different under Nagy. Keep in mind, a later bye actually offers no tangible competitive advantage.
Week 6 at Miami Dolphins, Sunday, October 14th, Noon CT
Dowell Loggains, Adam Gase, and Josh Sitton getting their revenge against the Bears? Not going to happen. Miami also has one of the worst rosters in pro football. The run to an AFC East title begins.
Season Record: 4-1
Week 7 vs. New England Patriots, Sunday, October 21st, Noon CT
Bill Belichick’s Patriots are the class of modern football. Tom Brady might be the greatest quarterback to ever play. At Brady’s age, this is probably the Bears’ last opportunity to overcome Brady after four previous defeats. Against a juggernaut, it’s not wise to bet on the Bears until they prove otherwise. The road to an AFC East title ends.
Just remember that Mitchell Trubisky has zero playoff losses, and Brady has 10, therefore making Trubisky better.
Season Record: 4-2
Week 8 vs. New York Jets, Sunday, October 28th, Noon CT
Since this is the Sunday before Halloween, the Bears likely pull out their orange jerseys against the Jets. For that style blemish, they deserve to take a hit in the standings. Based off of talent between these two teams and another rookie quarterback opponent (Baker Mayfield?): they won’t.
Season Record: 5-2
Week 9 at Buffalo Bills, Sunday, November 4th, Noon CT
If the Bears fancy themselves an elite defense, they cannot afford to lose to inexperienced quarterbacks (disregard mentions of Brett Hundley!). Chicago’s defense does take a step in that direction this season: independent of whoever is selected in the draft. Pour a drink out for “Insert Quarterback” (Josh Allen) against Akiem Hicks and company.
Season Record: 6-2
Week 10 vs. Detroit Lions, Sunday, November 11th, Noon CT
Chicago has one win against Detroit in it’s last 10 meetings. Not by coincidence, that’s in line with one of the worst overall stretches in franchise history. The tide may soon be turning against Matthew Stafford’s (playoff win-less) outfit, but not in this game.
Season Record: 6-3
Week 11 vs. Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, November 18th, Noon CT
Barring a traditional playoff collapse, the Vikings should again be playing on Championship Weekend. Minnesota has one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and upgraded at quarterback with Kirk Cousins. There’s no shame in falling to them (in the regular season), for the Bears or any team. The first two-game losing streak of the Nagy era. Oh no!
Season Record: 6-4
Week 12 at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving), Thursday, November 22nd, 11:30 a.m. CT
The last time the Bears visited Detroit on Thanksgiving, they were summarily stuffed 34-17. That 2014 Lions outfit was by far the best of the Stafford era, though. This Bears roster with an innovative coach in Nagy is poised for an upset on Turkey Day, getting Chicago’s first win on the road in Motown in six years.
Season Record: 7-4
Week 13 at New York Giants, Sunday, December 2nd, Noon CT
Call me crazy, but I don’t believe in a 37-year-old Eli Manning on his last legs. An unbelievable assessment, as I understand. I don’t believe in the direction of general manager Dave Gettleman. The Giants seem set to endure a lengthy rebuilding period. It behooves the Bears to take care of an inferior opponent grasping at straws.
Season Record: 8-4
Week 14 vs. Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, December 9th, Noon CT
Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh together is an interior offensive line’s matchup nightmare. There’s time to catch up on Jared Goff and head coach Sean McVay’s system. In the end, it won’t be enough to mitigate the most unique pass rush duo in football on the other side of the ball.
Season Record: 8-5
Week 15 vs. Green Bay Packers, Sunday, December 16th, Noon CT
As mentioned to open the season, Rodgers is a human dragon the Bears have historically lost many knights against. On their home turf, with a different culture and balanced team in place: this late season game begins to exorcise demons for Chicago.
Season Record: 9-5
Week 16 at San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, December 23rd, 3:05 p.m. CT
This year’s “Christmas” game for the Bears should prove to be an entertaining quarterback duel between Trubisky and Mr. “Small Sample Size” in Jimmy Garoppolo. The Bears aren’t mature enough to come out on top in these duels yet.
Season Record: 9-6
Week 17 at Minnesota Vikings, Noon CT - FOX
I have a feeling that U.S. Bank Stadium is going to be an NFC North house of horrors for a long time much in the manner that the Metrodome once was. Seeing as how the Bears have not quite reached “elite” status, they’re not equipped to defeat a Vikings team that may be fighting for a first round bye in the season finale. Only a Minnesota team resting starters for the postseason saves Chicago.
Final Season Record: 9-7
This upcoming Bears’ season should be treated as a springboard. Playing relevant football in December is a blessing for this organization. Winning two games in the final month of the year (half as much as the previous three years combined), is progress. Attain experience and come back with knowledge to ideally contend when ready.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.