2020 Team Betting Previews: Bears

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2020 Team Betting Previews: Bears

You may have forgotten like I had that the Bears actually finished with a .500 mark last season because their 2019 campaign seemed way more disappointing than their 8-8 record indicated. Chicago had a dramatic four-victory decrease in 2019 from their special 2018 season when they easily won the NFC North. Mitchell Trubisky and their once-dominant defense predictably took major steps back in 2019, which led to the disappointing campaign. The Bears got off to a promising 3-1 start before a four-game losing streak had them playing catch up the rest of the year before they were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15 (+100 odds). Fading the Bears last season was a profitable decision as they finished with a league-worst 4-12 against-the-spread record.

Chicago’s games featured the fewest points scored per game in the league last season with 36.1 combined points scored on average in their contests. It’s no surprise then that they finished 10-6 toward under after they allowed the fourth-fewest points per game (18.6) while scoring the fourth-fewest PPG (17.5). It’s also not surprising that they played in a ton of tight games either. The Bears finished with a 6-5 record in one-score games, and they lost to the Chiefs in their only game decided by three scores or more.

Chicago saw its 2020 season win total fall to seven and a half wins, which is two wins fewer than last year’s total. The Bears fell below their 2019 win total of nine and a half victories with their Week 15 loss to the Packers. Chicago has +200 odds to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Entering the season, I have the Bears power rated as the 20th-best team in the NFL (+4000 to win Super Bowl LV), as the 11th-best team in the NFC (+2000 to win the conference), and as the third-best team in the NFC North (+425 to win the division).

2020 Schedule

WeekOpponent (spread if available)Time
1@Detroit Lions (+1.5)1
2New York Giants (-5)1
3@Atlanta Falcons1
4Indianapolis Colts (-1)1
5Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5)8:20 (Thurs)
6@Carolina Panthers1
7@Los Angeles Rams8:15 (Mon)
8New Orleans Saints4:25
9@Tennessee Titans1
10Minnesota Vikings8:15 (Mon)
11BYEBYE
12@Green Bay Packers8:20 (Sun)
13Detroit Lions1
14Houston Texans1
15@Minnesota Vikings1
16@Jacksonville Jaguars1
17Green Bay Packers1

Key Off-season Moves

Additions

Nick Foles (QB)

Robert Quinn (DE)

Jimmy Graham (TE)

Cole Kmet (TE)

Jaylon Johnson (CB)

Ted Ginn (WR)

Demetrius Harris (TE)

Barkevious Mingo (LB)

Artie Burns (CB)

Germain Ifedi (OG)

Departures

Leonard Floyd (LB, LAR)

Nick Kwiatkoski (LB, LV)

Prince Amukamara (CB, LV)

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Dal)

Taylor Gabriel (WR, FA)

Kyle Long (OG, retired)

Trey Burton (TE, Ind)

Chase Daniel (QB, Det)

2020 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)7.5 (-130/+107ill)
NFC North+425
Playoffs (Y/N)+200/-250
NFC Championship+2000
Super Bowl+4000

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The NFC North isn’t exactly filled with a bunch of world-beaters inside the division. The Vikings roster took a couple of steps back from last season, the Packers stagnated this off-season after they wasted a first-round pick on Jordan Love, and the Lions franchise can’t get out of its own way and has never been much of a consistent winner. The Bears certainly have their own warts to deal with starting with some questionable decision-making by GM Ryan Pace, but this roster is still fairly loaded and they’ve been right in the mix most weeks during HC Matt Nagy’s tenure

The Bears have the most wins in the division over the last two seasons with 20 victories, and they added Nick Foles to their quarterback room to give Mitchell Trubisky some much-needed competition. I don’t have a particularly high opinion of Foles, but he’ll be a small upgrade for this offense since he’s more consistent and better equipped to keep this passing attack on schedule. In turn, that will help out a Bears defense that never came close to living up to the lofty standards they set back in 2018 in their final season under defensive wizard Vic Fangio.

The Bears defense came crashing back to earth in 2019 after they easily led all D/ST with 11.7 fantasy points per game the year before. The Bears forced only 19 turnovers and they registered just 32 sacks last season after creating a ridiculous 36 takeaways with 50 sacks in 2018. The Bears offense actually had five fewer turnovers in 2019 compared to 2018 (19 to 24), but Chicago lost the turnover battle in seven games last season compared to just two turnover losses in 2018. The Bears attacked the problem by bringing in Robert Quinn to pair with Khalil Mack. They’ll also get a healthy Akiem Hicks back along their D-line to give them potentially one of the better pass rushes in the league, which will also help with their turnover problem.

The Bears have the sixth-easiest schedule based on this season’s win totals (per Sharp Football), which includes three games with teams with win totals sitting below .500 to start the season (@Det, NYG, @Atl). Chicago also benefits from having its toughest non-divisional games being played at Soldier Field with the Colts (Week 4), the Buccaneers (Week 5), and the Saints (Week 8) all coming to Chicago.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

Matt Nagy has had a mixed bag of results in his first two seasons as head coach, but his tenure overall has seen more positives than negatives. The Bears, though, have been a bit dysfunctional the last two seasons with some of their decision making, which starts at the top with Ryan Pace. Nagy also butted heads with former OC Mark Helfrich, and they decided to revamp their offensive coaching staff this off-season by bringing in Bill Lazor to be the offensive coordinator and by hiring John DeFilippo to be the QB coach. Nagy is likely to keep play-calling duties, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it takes some time for the three experienced play-callers to get on the same page with each other with limited opportunities to do it in August.

Pace has made some questionable personnel decisions, which have hurt the team’s chances at sustained success. The Bears could’ve let a robust QB market come to them with a little patience this off-season with Andy Dalton (Cowboys) and Cam Newton (Patriots) signing for pennies on the dollar. Instead, they came out of the gates too aggressively at the start of the new NFL year and they traded for a worse QB in Nick Foles, giving him $21 million guaranteed. The Bears are now stuck with the worst starting QBs in the NFC North and one of the worst starting QB situations in the league.

The Bears then got into a bidding war with themselves when they gave the washed-up Jimmy Graham $9 million guaranteed. Pace then didn’t address their second-biggest off-season need, their offensive line, in the draft as they didn’t spend a pick on the unit until the seventh round. Chicago also got a little worse on defense after OLB Leonard Floyd, LB Nick Kwiatoski, CB Prince Amukamara, and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix each left this off-season. The Bears did at least sign OLB Robert Quinn to help a pass rush that registered just 32 sacks (8th-fewest) last season, but this isn’t the same defense that finished as the top D/ST for fantasy in 2018.

The Bears have an easier schedule than most this season but they do have some difficult spots on their schedule. They have to travel to the East Coast to play the Panthers in Week 6 before heading to the West Coast to play the Rams on Monday Night Football before hosting the Saints at home in Week 8. Chicago’s schedule is its most difficult in Weeks 4-10 (Ind, TB, @Car, @LAR, NO, @Ten, Min), and they have another awkward road back-to-back in Weeks 15-16 (@Min, @Jax).

Notable Player Props

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

David Montgomery: rushing yards (900.5)

Fantasy Points Projections: rushing yards (955)

  • Best-case Scenario: Montgomery bounces back from an underwhelming rookie campaign, looking quicker and more explosive on his way to his first 1000-yard rushing campaign.

  • Worst-case Scenario: Montgomery disappoints again as he continues to look sluggish as a runner behind a shaky O-line, leaving the Bears to look for another back after the 2020 season.

Allen Robinson: receiving yards (1050.5), most receiving yards (+2800)

Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (1200), receptions (90)

  • Best-case Scenario: A-Rob elevates himself to elite wide receiver status after getting serviceable QB play from Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky, which is better than he’s ever played with before.

  • Worst-case Scenario: Neither Foles nor Trubisky can emerge as the clear-cut best option, leading to a roller-coaster season for A-Rob as the team’s top receiver.

Anthony Miller: receiving yards (675.5)

Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (735), receptions (60)

  • Best-case Scenario: With more consistent quarterback play, Miller finally gets his breakthrough performance in his third season after flashing at different points in his first two seasons.

  • Worst-case Scenario: Miller continues to post sporadic production as the #2 receiver in one of the league’s worst passing attacks with Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky struggling with consistency.

Best Bets and Leans

Mitchell Trubisky became an easy scapegoat for all of the Bears issues last season, but Chicago’s major defensive regression from 2018 to 2019 is the biggest reason the Bears won four fewer games last season. The Bears will get a healthy DT Akiem Hicks back this season, and they added OLB Robert Quinn this off-season to play on the opposite side of Khalil Mack. The Bears defensive front could get back to creating chaos for opposing offenses, which should help them get back to forcing turnovers after they created 17 fewer takeaways last season.

HC Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace, and the rest of the Bears staff are in a win-now mode after they traded for Nick Foles to give Trubisky competition for this season. Chicago managed to sneak out eight wins last season with Trubisky giving them near league-worst quarterback play and with their defense looking mortal after their unsustainable 2018 performance. Chicago’s win total dipped by two full games from last season despite their 8-8 finish, and the two teams they’re chasing, the Vikings and the Packers, didn’t improve their rosters this off-season. I’m expecting the Bears to be sitting right around .500 once again this season, which is why I’m leaning toward the Bears over seven and a half wins.

I’m not completely convinced the Bears will stay at .500 or better this season, which is why I’m just leaning toward them going over their season win total. However, I still think their talent level is much closer to the Packers and certainly to the Vikings roster than their divisional odds imply — quarterback play is clearly their biggest difference between the three teams. The Bears have a 19% chance of claiming the NFC North title based on their +425 odds to win the division, which is too low for a team that won 12 games just two years ago with a similar roster. I could see all four NFC North teams finishing between 6-10 and 9-7 this season, and the Bears are worth a long-shot bet at +425 to win the NFC North if they can get marginal QB play and if their defense gets back to causing chaos.

Best Bets: Bears to win the NFC North (+425, DraftKings). Risk half a unit to win 2.13 units.

Leans: Bears over seven and a half wins (-130, DraftKings).

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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