The 2022 NFL schedule has been released. While the hype seemed a little over the top at times, it’s at least nice to learn how things will play out for the Chicago Bears. All things considered, it’s a solid slate of games. Only three are in primetime. The remainder will be at noon. Four of their final five will be at Soldier Field, with the one road game being in Detroit. So if they’re somehow competitive in December, they have a solid runway to reach the playoffs down the stretch.
What fans want to know is whether this is even possible. Despite having a schedule that is calculated to be one of the easiest in the league this year, plenty of experts are skeptical that the team is good enough to compete in the NFC. Not a surprise after their disappointing 6-11 campaign in 2021, followed by a significant roster overhaul led by new GM Ryan Poles. So what if the personal bias is stripped away? Cynthia Frelund is an analytics expert for NFL Network. She ran the numbers.
Right now, the over-under win total for the Bears is set at 6.1.
“While my models suggest the Bears won’t be overly punished for not adequately addressing their O-line issues this offseason, they have other questions marks (receiver, pass rusher) that could impact their ability to take full advantage of having a top-five schedule in terms of favorability. Fun fact: Two of their games — Week 6 (Thursday) vs. Washington and Week 7 at New England (Monday) — are tipping-point contests for their opponents’ chances of making the playoffs.”
Interestingly, she mentions pass rusher as being a significant concern. The trading of Khalil Mack probably played a big part in those projections. Not to mention the loss of Akiem Hicks as well. Outside of Robert Quinn, the team doesn’t have a proven QB hunter up front. Trevis Gipson had seven sacks last year and took a nice step forward. The interior is a bigger issue, with Justin Jones being their best option, and his career-high is three sacks.
As for wide receivers, the Chicago Bears have been pretty active in that area over the past two weeks. After drafting Velus Jones and signing half a dozen undrafted rookies, they added veterans Tajae Sharpe and Dante Pettis to the mix. Nobody can call the offense star-studded, but it’s at least interesting.
Smart money says their season will be determined in the first eight weeks when they play San Francisco, Green Bay, Dallas, and New England. Losing those four games would give them little room for error. History says this team doesn’t do well with slim margins.