It may be hard to believe, but the 2019 regular season is right around the corner and much like last year, optimism is in the air for Chicago Bears fans. Despite a tough end to a rather awesome 2018 season, there’s plenty of reasons to believe that the Bears are Super Bowl contenders.
Each year brings optimism for all 32 fan bases, but for the second year in a row, high hopes are justified for the Bears and their fans. Yes, they had a relatively quiet off-season, but that’s what happens when a team has a deep roster and minimal needs. Now, they must come out and prove why they are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
- Despite an up and down camp, quarterback Mitch Trubisky will eclipse the 4,000 yard mark.
Not only would that be a franchise record, but it would be another big step in the right direction for the Bears’ franchise quarterback. I expect the passing offense to open up a lot in 2019, especially with the amount of weapons they’ve built since the end of the 2017 season.
With better fits at running back and the most pass catching weapons I’ve ever seen in Chicago, it’s hard not to see Trubisky taking another sizable step in 2019.
2. Allen Robinson will have over 80 catches and 1,100 receiving yards
For as much talk and focus as Trubisky has received, one of the most overlooked players on the offensive side of the ball has been Robinson. Not only did he breakout towards the end of last season, but he has about as dominant of a camp as we’ve seen since the prime days of Alshon Jeffery. Yes, this team has plenty of weapons, but the Trubisky-Robinson connection is an established one and should take a big step in 2019.
3. Rookie David Montgomery will be the “lead” back by the end of the season and be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year
Maybe this isn’t as “bold” because this is what some fans are expecting, but I truly believe Montgomery is tailor-made for this offense. He can run, he can catch and most importantly, he can make people miss consistently. He’s a much better fit as an inside zone runner than Jordan Howard was, but he’s also a big threat as a receiver. I still expect Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen to play large parts in this offense, but Montgomery will establish himself as “the guy” by Week 17.
4. James Daniels will establish himself as one of the league’s best centers
Another overlooked move on the offense this off-season has been the position switch between Daniels and Cody Whitehair. Both players are moving to their more natural positions and Daniels’ athleticism should serve him very well as the center. Not only do I expect less botched snaps, I expect a larger impact in the running game, especially when getting to the second level.
5. Roquan Smith will establish himself as the best linebacker to come out of the 2018 class and be named an All-Pro
Last year, Smith held out of camp and didn’t play a snap in the preseason. On top of that, he hardly played in Week 1 & didn’t really get his feet under him until after the Week 5 Bye. This year, he’s had a full off-season with the team and the same goes with training camp. Especially in Pagano’s defense, expect Smith to not only rack up a ton of tackles, but his presence as a blitzer will become a signature to his game.
6. Khalil Mack will eclipse 18 sacks and have his best season since he was named First-Team All-Pro
While everyone may be focused on Pagano’s presence or even a breakout year from Leonard Floyd, I see the marriage between Mack and outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino as a match made in heaven. Just look at what Monachino was able to turn Terrell Suggs into back when he got his hands on him in Baltimore.
I expect Mack to stay healthy for all 16 games and to display the same dominance he did a year ago. Look out because Mack is just getting started in Chicago.
7. Eddie Jackson will experience his best season yet
2018 was a coming out party for the former fourth-round pick. He had 3 total touchdowns last year, including a pair of huge pick-sixes. On top of that, he had six total interceptions. I expect that last number to jump up even more this year. Again, Pagano’s impact is going to be sizable. In Ed Reed’s Hall of Fame speech, he credited Pagano’s work with him in Baltimore as a big reason why he was standing up on that stage.
Couple that with how Jackson has treated this off-season and there’s no doubt in my mind we are seeing the start of greatness, not already in the midst of him at his best.
8. Bilal Nichols’ sophomore season will establish himself as a top-end defensive lineman
This one may appear to be a bit vague on the surface. Last year, Nichols showed out very well as a rookie with 28 tackles and three sacks. What’s hard to believe is that he’s just 22-years-old and could be primed for a breakout season heading into Year 2.
Akiem Hicks is still the best player on this defensive line, but he’ll also turn 30-years-old in November. Meaning, he’s got a few more years left of prime-level play, but at some point the Bears will need someone else to fill his role. Starting this year, Nichols will grow into that player and by the time Hicks’ new contract runs out, Nichols will be in line for a new deal.
Here’s my prediction for Nichols in 2019: 40 tackles, 6 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
9. The Bears will have both a top 10 offense and defense
Last year, the Bears finished with the top defense in the league according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. They were also first in points, turnovers and turnover differential.
This year, they will maintain a top five defensive unit, but their offense will take a big step in the same direction and this is why:
- Year 2 of Matt Nagy’s offense.
- Trubisky’s big jump.
- The right fit(s) at running back, headlined by Montgomery.
- A multitude of pass catching weapons with experience in the offense.
- All five 2019 offensive linemen will return.
Simply put, the Bears are in a much better spot in Year 2 of Nagy. Between the experience they’ve gained as a unit, the jump Trubisky is expected to make and the proper fits at key positions, there’s no reason they can’t jump into the Top 10 and become one of, if not the most well rounded team in football. NFL beware, the Bears are going to be really good in 2019.
10. Predicting the schedule week-by-week
Week 1: Vs Green Bay Packers W
Week 2: At Denver Broncos L
Week 3: At Washington Redskins W
Week 4: Vs Minnesota Vikings W
Week 5: At Oakland Raiders W
Week 6: Bye Week
Week 7: Vs New Orleans Saints W
Week 8: Vs Los Angeles Chargers W
Week 9: At Philadelphia Eagles L
Week 10: Vs Detroit Lions W
Week 11: At Los Angeles Rams W
Week 12: Vs New York Giants W
Week 13: At Detroit Lions L
Week 14: Vs Dallas Cowboys W
Week 15: At Green Bay Packers L
Week 16: Vs Kansas City Chiefs W
Week 17: At Minnesota Vikings W
Final Record: 12-4 (First Place)