After going through and predicting their first 8 games of the 2022 season, my hypothetical Chicago Bears have some work to do to get their season back on track.
Just under halfway through their 2022 schedule the team sits outside the playoffs at 3-5. Those playoffs currently look a little something like this:
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2, 2-1)
- Los Angeles Rams (5-2, 2-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-2, 1-1)
- Green Bay Packers (5-3, 1-1)
- (WC1) New Orleans Saints (5-3, 3-0)
- (WC2) San Francisco 49ers (5-3, 2-1)
- (WC3) Minnesota Vikings (4-3, 3-0)
Making the playoffs after starting 3-5 is not unheard of of course. Both the 49ers and Eagles started last season 3-5 before fighting their way into the playoffs; the Niners even made it all the way to the NFC Championship game. Now, that doesn’t mean getting to the playoffs starting 3-5 is by any means easy or common, so the Bears are gonna need to rattle off some wins to get back on track.
Luckily, they got a stretch of winnable games coming up in weeks 9-12, so let’s get into it.
Week 9: Dolphins - Who really knows what to expect out of the Dolphins this season. The team started a dreadful 1-7 last season before catching fire and clawing their way back to a 9-8 record, just barely missing a playoff spot. Since then, the team has had some pretty major changes. Head coach Brian Flores was shown the door, and former Shanahan right-hand man Mike McDaniel was brought in. Then, in one of the more shocking moves of the offseason, Tyreek Hill was acquired in a trade to give Tua Tagovailoa some firepower.
If you didn’t gather it from the constant media coverage, Tua is kinda the key to this whole thing. The team around him is solid (the team’s defense ranked right in the middle of the pile at 16th last season in total yards allowed), and Tua does have decent weapons to throw to (Hill is joining former Alabama standout Jaylen Waddle and one of the league’s better tight ends in Mike Gesicki), but this is a team that probably won’t go if their young QB does not.
And my prediction is that he doesn’t. From what I’ve seen, Tua is by no means a bad QB, but he’s a very safe QB. Last year, Tua only averaged more than 10.0 yards/play in a game once (11/11 v. Baltimore), and he averaged less than seven yards/play five times in the 13 appearances. He has yet to flash that big play potential that is so pivotal in today’s quarterbacks, and that could greatly help the Bears’ secondary. The addition of Hill might fix that issue entirely, but if it doesn’t, the Bears should be able to play real aggressive and up-front, knowing Tua isn’t likely to burn them with a shot downfield. As long as the Bears can put up decent numbers against an average Dolphin’s defense, this should be a solid win for the navy and orange.
Record After Week 9: 4-5
Week 10: Lions - Call me crazy, laugh at me in the comments, but I think the Lions will actually be kinda decent this year. Granted, I still have them finishing last in the division, but I think they’ll put up decent fights in most of their games. Sure, they still have arguably the worst QB in the North with Jared Goff, but the staff around him is shaping up nicely for Detroit. I think Dan Campbell could get anyone to run through a wall for him; Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark Jr., and Jameson Williams (if he’s a go health wise) form a sneakily good WR trio; D’Andre Swift started to get some more respect; T.J. Hockenson is an above average TE; meanwhile, Aidan Hutchinson plus a healthy and improved Jeff Okudah are going to do wonders for that defense.
All that being said, they’re still the Lions, and if there is one thing I’ve learned about the Lions, it’s to not believe it until we see it. There have been a couple Lions teams in recent memory who looked like they could’ve done some damage (they had one of the premier QBs in the league for over a decade), yet they never did. This Lions team is gonna experience some growing pains due to how young their key pieces (and coach) are. Granted, the Bears have a similar issue, but I’ll take Fields over Goff any day of the wekk, and I feel a bit better about the Bears’ defense than the Lions’. Bears win this one by shutting down Goff while Fields is able to get past the Detroit defense.
Record After Week 10: 5-5
Week 11: @Falcons - Falcons are in full rebuild mode, so this needs to be a Bears win. The team traded longtime QB Matt Ryan this offseason to Indianapolis, and Julio Jones was dealt a year before that. Honestly, there’s not much on this roster that should cause the Bears too many problems. Kyle Pitts looks like we’ll join the top tier of TEs this year (if he didn’t already last year as a rookie), but it’s rare that a TE can totally dominate a game to the degree he sways the final result. Drake London is one of this year’s most hyped WR rookies, but he’s also probably being put into the WR1 role, so who knows how he’ll play while being paired up against some of the league’s top corners. Other than those two, this is not a team the Bears should struggle against. A.J. Terrell could cause some headaches for whoever he’s covering downfield after the young corner had a bit of a breakout last year, but the Bears could choose to just throw away from him. Not too much thought to this one. Bears should take it pretty handily.
Also, let’s call this the “Oh-Yeah, He-Played-For-the-Bears” game, featuring Damien Williams, Damiere Byrd, Elijah Wilkinson, Germain Ifedi, and Nick Kwiatkoski.
Record after Week 11: 6-5
Week 12: @Jets - You could basically just look at what I said about the Lions for my Jets breakdown. This is a young team who looks like they could finally be ready to make a little noise this year. The Jets’ offense is in a similar position to the Bears in that it is dependent on a second year QB in Zach Wilson. The key difference between the two is that the Jets did a decent job this offseason surrounding their young gun with talent, going out and acquiring talent like C.J. Uzomah as well as rookies Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson. That defense should also receive a boost with the addition of one of this year’s draft top players, Ahmad Gardner.
But, very much like the Lions, I need to see improvement before I believe it. On paper, this team should be competitive, but the Jets have been a bottom-dweller for most of recent memory, so it’s hard to put faith into this team until they actually produce better play. As disappointing as the Bears have been in the past couple seasons, it has been a while since they’ve been really bad, so I think the Bears win this one just by being a better all-around team.
Record after Week 12: 7-5
And there you have. Four weeks, four wins, and the Bears are looking a lot better at 7-5. There’s still work to be done though, so make sure to come back for part four where we wrap up the Bears’ 2022 regular season.