The 2022 season is almost here, Bears fans. Preseason games are in the rearview mirror. Today’s final roster cutdowns, along with any post-cut signings, provide the last preseason drama. The next time we see the Chicago Bears take the field will be for the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, September 11, at Soldier Field.
Saturday’s preseason finale in Cleveland provided a glimpse of what this year’s Bears team can be: an overlooked underdog, but one willing to deliver a punch to the throat, led by their 2nd-year quarterback, veteran defense, and upstart head coach. This team will ultimately go as far as Justin Fields takes them. Keeping him healthy and off his back is critical to the Bears’ success. With that in mind, here are five bold predictions for the 2022 Chicago Bears:
Bears Top 6.5 Wins
The oddsmakers in Vegas are crapping on the Bears. Several sites have them finishing as one of the worst teams in the league. That honor pays 10-1 for anyone betting on a tank- job. The more appealing bet is total regular season wins, currently at 6.5. After watching the Bears dismantle the Browns in their preseason finale, it’s hard not to like the over. Games against the Texans, Giants, Jets, Commanders, and Falcons should be wins if the Bears play like they did against the Browns. That’s five potential wins right there – add in two games apiece against NFC North foes the Lions and Vikings – sweeping them puts the Bears at nine wins. Add in winnable games against the 49ers, who will be starting their second-year quarterback Trey Lance, plus games against the Dolphins, Eagles, and Patriots – in their first year without offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Add it all up… and pound the over.
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Justin Fields Makes The Pro Bowl
Fields showcased his enormous potential as a franchise quarterback in Cleveland. He was in command of the offense, completing 14 of 16 passes for three touchdowns in the first half. His first and second touchdowns, in particular, highlighted the massive improvement in a perceived weakness: release time and decision-making from the pocket. Fields thread the needle to tight end Ryan Griffin, pushing the ball between two defenders, and putting the Bears on the board. It was quite impressive.
TE spike to get us on the board!
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 27, 2022
Fields’ second touchdown to Dante Pettis was equally impressive. The young quarterback identified one-on-one coverage and delivered a laser to the corner of the end zone. Fields chemistry with Pettis is worth watching Week 1.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 27, 2022
If Fields can continue to get the ball out of his hand quickly and accurately, the sky is the limit for him. The Browns game highlighted his ability to make plays in space, none more than his third and final touchdown pass to a wide-open Cole Kmet.
brb watching this on repeat all night 😍
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 28, 2022
If the Bears can keep Fields healthy, there’s no reason that he can’t be the next dual-threat quarterback in the NFL. 25 passing touchdowns, five-plus rushing touchdowns, limited turnovers, and a winning record for the Bears should be enough to push Fields to the Pro Bowl.
Bears Have Three +700 Yard Rushers
Offense Coordinator Luke Getsy brings a hybrid West Coast offense, combining the zone blocking scheme, run-pass option (RPO), play-action, and designed bootlegs. The goal is to keep Fields healthy and defenses guessing. Luckily the Bears have a trio of runners to execute the offense, led by David Montgomery. The veteran is entering his fourth year and was just named to the NFL’s Top-100 list. Monty has never shied away from contact in his career and showed no signs of that changing anytime soon.
— Gustavo (@iamvega1982) August 27, 2022
Montgomery will be joined in the backfield by 2nd-year runner Khalil Herbert. The 2021 6th round pick, Herbert, filled in admirably when Montgomery missed four games with a knee injury. Herbert averaged more than four yards on 100+ carries, adding 14 catches.
Justin Fields beautifully manipulates his arm slot to wrap this screen behind the rush and hits Khalil Herbert for a first down. pic.twitter.com/J6lSPRFLgM
— Patrick K. Flowers (@PatrickKFlowers) August 28, 2022
Herbert might even top Montgomery as a pure zone runner. Either way, Montgomery and Herbert pack a nice 1-2 punch for the Bears. They will be joined in the backfield by rookie Trestan Ebner out of Baylor. The rookie played well in the Bears first two preseason games, displaying nice vision and hands out of the backfield.
Okay, @TrestanEbner 👀
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 13, 2022
But Ebner won’t be the Bears 3rd +700-yard rusher. That title goes to quarterback Justin Fields. Bottom line, he’s a freak athlete. Through Week 8 last year, Fields had three scrambles eclipsing 20mph as a runner. The rest of the QBs in the NFL only had five such runs combined.
— Full Press NFL (@FullPressNFL) October 31, 2021
Fields is a game changer in the open field. His ability to improvise and turn the corner utilizing his 4.4 speed adds another dynamic weapon to the Bears’ offense. The key will be keeping him healthy. A trio of runners to keep opposing defenses on their toes should help.
The Bears Defense Is A Top-5 Unit
This prediction might come as a surprise after the Bears traded Khalil Mack to the Chargers this offseason. Let me explain why it’s not. The Bears have playmakers at every level of the defense. Robert Quinn returns after setting the Bears’ single-season sack record. He landed at #48 on the NFL Top-100 list. 2nd Team All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith returns after a short preseason holdout. He is the engine behind the defense and has improved every year in the league. Given his desire to be the highest paid linebacker in NFL history, it would not surprise me to see him take another step and put himself into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. In the secondary, Jaylen Johnson and Eddie Jackson will be joined by cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker, assuming he returns for season kickoff. Both rookies have flashed in training camp and the preseason. Learning from Johnson and Jackson should accelerate their development into what Bears fans hope will be the best backend in the NFL.
Chicago Bears Make The Playoffs
Seven playoff spots are up for grabs in the NFC. Looking at the landscape, the West appears most top-heavy, with the Super Bowl Champion Rams followed by the 49ers and Cardinals. If elbow issues persist for Matthew Stafford in L.A., they become a major question mark. Trey Lance is unproven in San Francisco too. The NFC East will likely have two contenders in the Cowboys and Eagles. After Tampa Bay, the South looks relatively weak. This brings us to the NFC North. It’s still Aaron Rodgers and the Packers division to lose. But overcoming the losses of Davante Adams to the Raiders and pass rusher Za’Darius Smith to the rival Vikings won’t be easy. The Vikings have the offensive firepower on paper, but Kirk Cousins can never seem to put it all together. The Lions are, well, the Lions. Here in Chicago, Head coach Matt Eberflus has brought his H.I.T.S. philosophy with him from Indianapolis. The Bears have looked sharper and faster than their preseason opponents. Just as importantly, Justin Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy are gelling. Fields buying into Getsy’s plan is huge for the Bears and will hopefully unlock his full potential. And don’t forget, Fields is holding grudges. He’s got the list of teams that passed on him last year firmly in his psyche. That begins Week 1 with the 49ers. That kind of Jordan-esque mindset is exactly what the Bears need. Prove the doubters wrong and take no prisoners. The NFC North is the Bears for the taking if Fields can stay on his feet and off the injured list.