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Windy City Gridiron picks the Bears’ 2018 season

The Bears are back. So are the Packers, and they’re celebrating an anniversary. Here’s how the WCG staff sees the Bears 2018 season playing out, along with Week 1 picks.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It comes to this. As the Bears begin a new era of football under Matt Nagy, of course it had to begin against the Packers. Any time the Bears are trying to break new ground, they must first stand against their most difficult obstacle in Green Bay.

Luckily, on paper the Bears appear to be more well-stocked for this venture than normal. Khalil Mack finishes a vicious Chicago defense. Mitchell Trubisky and company have upside galore on offense. And Nagy seems to have instilled an innate swagger in his team.

How will all these developments play out not only on Sunday Night Football against the Packers, but through the course of one of the most anticipated Bears seasons in years?

The Windy City Gridiron staff go to their crystal balls.

Bears 2018 season prediction

Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: 10-6

Before the addition of Mack, I was convinced the Bears would be closer to mediocrity than a team ready to win in 2018. After, it’ll take time to gel, but they have more than enough to contend. Chicago now has the kind of defense that can carry them to .500 by itself. If Trubisky pans out, the sky’s the limit. They’re not going to surprise anyone anymore.

Lester Wiltfong Jr.: 10-6

Mack is a difference maker. At the very least, he will single-handedly be responsible for at lest one win this year. A pressure that leads to an interception or a strip sack to close out a game is bound to happen. This defense is used to playing with a conservative offense and having to keep games close. But now with Nagy, Robinson, Burton, Gabriel, Miller, and the returning starters, this offense will move the ball. It may take them time to gel, but it’ll happen eventually. When it does it’ll be an exciting time to be a Bears fan.

Aaron Leming: 10-6

It’s time to drink from the punch bowl and we have Mack to thank for that. Before his addition, I would have said 8-8 for these Bears. But to steal a term from baseball, I truly believe Mack adds two games (WAR) to the Bears’ win total. Trubisky is obviously the biggest key here. If he has a Jared Goff-like breakout, that win total could come in even higher.

Jacob Infante: 10-6

I had the Bears at 8-8 before the Mack trade, but adding a player as talented as he is at their biggest need will be a massive boost for them going forward. The offense has several dangerous weapons, and the defense has its fair share of difference makers. The roster isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s one that can make serious noise in the NFC.

Sam Householder: 8-8

I am too jaded from the past few years to believe in a quick turnaround, especially given the young offense and the divisional opponents. This is going to be a year of putting it all together and learning for the young quarterback and first-time head coach. They will have plenty of defensive talent, but the offense will have ups and down. Plus it’s just easier to have lower expectations and be surprised.

Josh Sunderbruch: 9-7

With a solid defense backstopping him, Trubisky is able to play within himself and make steady progress toward becoming a top 15 quarterback. The weapons around him elevate that play, and the defense is smothering. It takes a few weeks before the NFL wakes up to their newfound ability, so they pick up some cheap wins early.

Andrew Link: 11-5

I had the Bears winning nine games prior to the Mack-tivities. After the trade, however, that prediction has to be pushed up. I’ve said that the addition of Mack affects the other 21 players on this Bears team. He improves the defense in obvious ways, but his contributions to the offense shouldn’t be overlooked. From strip-sacks, to interceptions, to three-and-outs, the short fields the offense receives will be crucial in the first-year of Nagy’s offensive system.

Erik Duerrwaechter: 11-5

The Bears have all the makings of a team that is looking to go from worst to first within their own division. Where it’ll be hard to knock the Vikings off from their seat on the throne, there’s simply too much talent on the Bears’ roster to ignore. Couple the highly active off-season with new coaching, and we could see something magical develop in 2018.

Jeff Berckes: 11-5

They were a five-win team with a greenhorn quarterback under a regressive offensive system last year, and were 2-5 in one score games. They added actual professional receivers and a modern scheme to compliment their young signal caller. On defense, they remained largely intact and added two play-making linebackers in a scheme that’s built for playmaking linebackers. I’m all-in on this team.

Patti Curl: 12-4

5 wins + 2.5 for swapping Fox for Nagy + 1.5 for overhauling pass-catchers + 1 for Biscuit development + 2 for Mack and Roquan

Ken Mitchell: 16-0

I might have gone as low as 15-1 before the Bears traded for Mack ... no, probably not, come to think of it. I’m all-in, clean sweep baby! This is the year that the 1972 Dolphins get to leave the champagne on ice.

One bold prediction

Chicago Bears v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Trey Burton leads the Bears in receiving, becomes known as one of NFL’s best tight ends

Adam Shaheen’s injury reserve designation paints the picture of Burton rising to the forefront as one of the league’s household names. People will be enamored with Trubisky, Allen Robinson, and Anthony Miller. Meanwhile, Burton will plug away and quietly become arguably the team’s most reliable offensive weapon.

Lester Wiltfong Jr.: Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara will have 10 interceptions between them.

With Mack and the Bears’ defense attacking quarterbacks, we’re going to see a lot of off balance throws, and throws where the receiver isn’t completely ready to make the catch. That’ll lead to Chicago’s cornerbacks reaping the benefits.

Aaron Leming: Mitchell Trubisky breaks the Bears all-time season passing yards record

This may seem like a large feat to accomplish, but Eric Kramer’s mark of 3,838 yards was made to be broken. Now that the Bears have their true savior at the quarterback position and an innovative mind like Nagy, I think 2018 is the year it’ll happen. So many weapons and so much time (16 games).

Jacob Infante: Anthony Miller leads the Bears in receptions.

The Memphis alum is a fantastic route runner who can make contested catches and pick up yards after the catch. He will provide a well-rounded, reliable option out of the slot, and Trubisky could look his way several times a game to get him in space and evade tackles.

Sam Householder: The Bears defense will finish 10+ in turnover margin.

They were dead even last year with 22 takeaways and giveaways, but I think the defense is much better equipped to take the ball away and protect it better than last year. Interceptions should improve from eight a year ago, to maybe 12-15, and offensive turnovers should decline slightly, even if interceptions (12 in 2017) remain the same.

Josh Sunderbruch: The Bears make the playoffs.

I’ll go one step farther and say that Trubisky posts a passer rating north of 92.5.

Andrew Link: Jordan Howard will lead the league in touchdowns.

From goalline runs, to quick screens, I believe Howard will make us remember the heyday of the running back during the early 2000’s.

Erik Duerrwaechter: Bears lead the league in sacks

They were already in the top ten last year when taking quarterbacks down in the backfield. Adding a monster in Mack to a strong front seven is going to make for countless nightmares to scheme against on game day. Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Leonard Floyd could all touch double digits this year.

Jeff Berckes: Jordan Howard leads the league in rushing yards

Patti Curl: Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks will each have 10-plus sacks on Mack-distracted offenses

Ken Mitchell: Roquan Smith leads all inside linebackers in the NFL in sacks

With Mack on the outside eating the double, and Floyd on the other outside with the spin move and speed rush, if Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris start playing stunts and games inside: there’s going to be a wide-open lane for a lightning quick inside linebacker to rush the passer. One might note the Bears happen to have a lightning fast inside linebacker on the roster.

Week 1 pick at Packers

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Robert Zeglinski: Packers 24 Bears 17

I like the direction the Bears are heading in. I think they’ll be a formidable team for the foreseeable future. I don’t see the full brunt of that power showing up in the first week of the Nagy era. Who knows what capacity Mack plays in after missing the preseason, and whether Trubisky and the offense come to play at Lambeau. Those questions are enough for me to give the edge to the Bears’ perennial dragon, Aaron Rodgers, who pulls it out in a tight one.

Lester Wiltfong Jr.: Bears 24 Packers 23

The Packers’ defense is a little dinged up, and I think Nagy will have the game-plan to exploit them. They’ll be able to move the ball a bit with Howard and Burton leading the way, but the key will be in slowing down Rodgers. Khalil Mack may not play much, but if he plays I think the Bears can do just enough and pull out a close win

Aaron Leming: Packers 24 Bears 21

Yes, I know. I just got done saying the Bears would finish 10-6, but I have them losing in Week 1. The thing is, the Packers are still a very good team with this guy named Rodgers throwing the football. Despite all of the unknowns on the Bears’ side of the ball, I think it’s going to take some time to really get this team off the ground. The good news? They could still be 3-1 before the bye week.

Jacob Infante: Packers 26 Bears 20

With Mack on the roster, the Bears are a much bigger threat to Green Bay, and Rodgers in particular. While having an elite pass rusher could stop Rodgers from torching Chicago’s defense like he has in past years, the Bears are still a young team playing their first meaningful game under a new regime. The Packers sneak away with a tight win.

Sam Householder: Packers 28, Bears 24

The Bears will cover the spread, but I don’t think they have it all together out of the gate to overcome the hated Packers. Maybe in the second meeting. I do, however, believe that the Bears offense will come out and jump out to an early lead based on how much of the offense they’ve hidden this summer.

Josh Sunderbruch: Packers 27 Bears 13

The Bears aren’t ready yet, and the Packers have the advantage of being in the same basic offensive system with a defense anchored by two players not yet in football shape. Meanwhile, Trubisky will only be in his 13th professional game. The Packers win and hand the Bears their only loss before the bye.

Andrew Link: Bears 31 Packers 21

I had the Bears winning this game before the Mack trade. The element of surprise is firmly in the Bears’ favor. Nagy has done a phenomenal job of hiding his weapons on offense. That matchup seemed to favor the Bears based on the weak pass rush mixed with suspect inside linebackers and rookie corners. But now that Mack is in the fold, the Bears seem to have an advantage on the defensive side of the ball too. The Packers shouldn’t be able to run the ball on a stout Bears defense. The lack of talent and athleticism at the skill positions should make this an easier task than in year’s past. Vic Fangio’s defenses always play the Packers tough, and this is by far the most talent he’s had in the past four years.

Erik Duerrwaechter: Bears 24 Packers 20

Chicago is coming into Green Bay with a retooled roster, a far more aggressive game-plan on offense, and a defense that’s built to wreck Rodgers. He is still the most talented quarterback in the NFL. It’ll be a close game, but if the pieces on offense come together and Trubisky shows further progress in his development, then I am confident the Bears will knock off the Packers.

Jeff Berckes: Bears 31 Packers 13

I think the Bears come out and hit the Packers in the mouth with a new, varied offense and the defense plays inspired ball. Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Burton all score in their first game as Bears.

Patti Curl: Bears 52 Packers 12

Ken Mitchell: Bears 31, Packers 17

The offense is just installed and the Bears won’t be up to speed against Green Bay, so I doubt they’ll score more than 28 points on offense. Throw in a few points from an Eddie Jackson interception right before half, and there they are. Since Mack and Smith are both going to be a bit limited, and it’s the first game, I think Green Bay gets lucky and scores a couple of touchdowns. Add a field goal and there you have it.