It’s the most wonderful time…  It’s the most wonderful time…  It’s the most wonderful time… of the year!  (Imagine that in sing-song holiday melodies.)



That’s right, the NFL is back!  It’s Week 1 of a revamped 17-game schedule, and not a moment too soon.

The Chicago Bears take on the Los Angeles Rams, for the fourth year in a row, to kick off the 2021 campaign.  For the fourth straight year, the game will be played on Sunday Night Football.  And for the third straight year, the game will be played in Los Angeles.

The Bears have had a roller coaster offseason following the departure of Mitch Trubisky.  Several roster additions and coaching decisions later, and we’re here.

It figures to be a wild 2021 campaign — one that will undoubtedly be frustrating, but one that will hopefully have Bears fans excited for 2022, when they should *really* start to compete.

With that, I bring you my annual season preview and predictions!  The Chicago Bears and the broader NFL.  What will 2021 bring?

Follow me on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.

2021 Season Preview and Predictions

Table of Contents

Roster Outlook

The Bears have improved in several areas (starters and/or depth): QB, WR, RB, TE, and DL/OLB.  There is some projection involved, but they may also have improved on the OL and ILB.  The only spot they got markedly worse is CB (and their best CB, Jaylon Johnson, needs to prove he can handle not just the CB1 spot, but a whole season).

Unfortunately, the secondary is the most important unit on defense in today’s passing NFL.  And with the QBs the Bears are slated to play this year (Matthew Stafford, Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson), never has that been a bigger problem.  Maybe guys like Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley surprise us.  Maybe the Bears play a lot of Dime looks this season (thanks, Mike Pettine) and utilize other interesting schematics to cover up some of that rougher man-to-man ability this unit has.  But it’s going to be a challenge.  We’ll find out just how bad in Week 1.

Bears’ Schedule Predictions

It’s a ROUGH schedule.  Going up against the NFC West, AFC North, alongside playing a second-place schedule (when the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on that schedule) is brutal.  But here we are.  My quick take at the Bears’ season — and this doesn’t take into account any sort of “improvement” if/when Justin Fields takes over:

@LAR — L
CIN — W
@CLE — L
DET — W
@LV — W
GB — L
@TB — L
SF — L
@PIT — L
BAL — W
@DET — W
ARI — W
@GB — L
MIN — W
@SEA — W
NYG — W
@MIN — L

Final record:  9-8

Playoffs?  Yes

Result?  Lose in Wild Card Round

What do others on Sports Mockery’s Bears team think?

From Erik Lambert:

Nobody ever wants to say a season can be decided in the first five games. For the Bears though? It feels like that is the case. Three of those games should be wins (Bengals, Lions, Raiders). If they can steal one from either the Rams or Browns? They might be able to survive the onslaught to come between mid-October and mid-November. If they stumble out of the gate? This team will be looking towards 2022 before the bye week. They’re going to seem some breaks. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening. Most likely a 7-10 finish with Justin Fields getting the second half of the season to start.

From Kevin Wells:

This year feels too similar, a sense we’ve had for years as Bears fans. The honeymoon phase of drafting Justin Fields is over and reality is setting in. When I glance at the schedule that features playoff team after playoff team, it’s hard for me to believe this year will be any different than last. Let’s be honest, there just is not enough talent at premium positions to compete with the top-tier teams. I would say 8-8, but I can no longer do that so 9-8 it is.

From Stevie Puschman:

9-8. If fields doesn’t start by week 4, he will definitely start by the 49ers game.

Overall NFL Results

AFC

AFC North Winner: Browns
AFC East Winner: Bills
AFC West Winner: Chiefs
AFC South Winner: Titans
AFC Wild Cards: Chargers, Steelers, Ravens

AFC Winner: Bills

NFC

NFC North Winner: Packers
NFC East Winner: Cowboys
NFC West Winner: Rams
NFC South Winner: Buccaneers
NFC Wild Cards: Saints, 49ers, Bears

NFC Winner: Buccaneers

Super Bowl Winner: Buccaneers

Bears Superlatives

Offensive Player: Allen Robinson
Defensive Player: Roquan Smith
Most Improved: Cole Kmet
Biggest Surprise: Matt Nagy’s play calling (for Bears fans, at least)
Biggest Disappointment: Sam Mustipher

Covering the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls @SportsMockery. Chelsea FC fan. Jay Cutler stan.