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Oddsmakers give Bears 3rd-best odds to win NFC North

The Bears trail the Vikings and the Packers, but the race is tighter than you’d expect.

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears placed third in the NFC North with an 8-8 record in 2019, and if the current odds have anything to say about it, they will likely end up finishing with similar results in 2020.

Chicago is currently getting +349 odds to win their division this coming year, placing out at roughly a 22 percent chance. They trail the Packers and the Vikings, who have odds at +158 and +171, respectively. The Lions are in fourth with odds at +663. However, bettors have the NFC North as the second-most tightly contested division in the league—only the AFC South has three teams with odds at +300 or below.

The Bears opened up the offseason at +400 but saw their odds improve after the acquisition of Nick Foles in a trade with the Jaguars, as well as such additions like Robert Quinn and Jimmy Graham. Though the exact odds fluctuated slightly leading up to the draft, they stayed relatively stagnant in the grand scheme of things.

The results of the 2020 draft didn’t make much of an impact on Chicago’s odds, but the same could not be said with the Packers. After taking quarterback Jordan Love and running back A.J. Dillon in the first two rounds—two players who will presumably serve as backups in 2020—Green Bay’s odds moved from +138 to +158 in just a matter of five days. While still the favorites to win the North, the gap between them and the Vikings and Bears closed a bit after what was perceived as one of the more confusing draft hauls in the league.

While the Bears admittedly face an uphill battle to winning their division, certain scenarios could take place which would see them come away with the crown for the second time in three years. The Packers didn’t do much in free agency, maintaining a poor group of weapons in the passing game for Aaron Rodgers outside of Davante Adams, as well arguably getting worse at both linebacker and right tackle by replacing Blake Martinez and Bryan Bulaga with Christian Kirksey and Ricky Wagner, respectively. Minnesota lost Stefon Diggs and several key contributors on defense, and while their draft class looks promising, it’s unlikely their rookies will be able to play up to par compared to the veterans they will be replacing.

Granted, much of any chance the Bears have of winning the North depends heavily on improved offensive play. If Nick Foles wins the starting quarterback job, he will need to be a step up from Mitchell Trubisky’s play in 2019 for the team to be a true contender. The offensive line, which saw some depth improvements but still has a hole at right guard, will need to bounce back to their 2018 form and leave last year’s disappointing campaign behind them. The tight end duo of Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet would just need to stay healthy in order to be an upgrade over what the Bears had at the position in 2019, and David Montgomery may have to have a breakout year in his sophomore season after putting together a rookie year that saw some promising flashes but some consistency issues.

Chicago’s odds of winning their division are admittedly unlikely, but it’s not entirely out of the question. A lot will have to go right for them once the season kicks off, but if things fall their way, the Bears could find their way into the playoffs come 2020.