We all knew this was coming. When we realized that the Chicago Bears has the third toughest schedule in the NFL in 2021, only behind the Steelers and Ravens, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that they would not be very popular with the sportsbooks. Not only were we right about that, but the Bears are only favored in a total of FIVE games out of their first 15. In the 10 games that they are underdogs, eight of them see the Bears as +5.5 or greater dogs. This obviously is not a good sign for those of you who were hoping for a Bears renaissance this season, as the books are pretty down on the good ol’ monsters of the midway.
This doesn’t mean that the Bears can’t beat the odds and prove everyone wrong, they are bound to win a game or two that they are not supposed to. If new QB Justin Fields can be the player he was at Ohio State, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that the Bears can compete for a playoff spot. Listed below will be the full lineup of the first 15 games of the Bears 2021 season and the odds for each, courtesy of Audacy’s Joe Ostrowski and PointsBet. We can see that some games jump off the page right away, and we’ll go over a few key games below.
Lines are up for the Bears first 15 games at @PointsBetUSA. Favored 5x, underdogs 10x, getting 5.5+ points in 8/10.
+7 at LAR
-5.5 vs CIN
+7 at CLE
-10.5 vs DET
+1.5 at LV
+6 vs GB
+10.5 at TB
+2.5 vs SF
+5.5 at PIT
+5.5 vs BAL
-6 at DET
-1 vs ARI
+10 at GB
-0.5 vs MIN
+7 at SEA
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) May 14, 2021
Here it is in all of its glory. There are a lot of +’s in there, but where they really stand out is the 6-game gauntlet that is smack dab in the middle of this brutal schedule. The Bears start off as small dogs in Las Vegas to take on the Raiders in a very winnable game, but from there it gets obscenely hard for the team. If Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay, and that’s a big if right now, this becomes one of the most difficult 5-game stretches of any team in the NFL. Imagine having to face the Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens all in a row. The schedule-makers really screwed the Bears here. Maybe they were hoping for another sob story from Ryan Pace on battling through another 5 or 6 game losing streak. One can only take so much stupidity. Let’s break down this critical mid-season stretch for the Bears, starting with Green Bay.
Hope You’re Ready For Some L’s
The Packers always present a challenge for the Bears, but ever since Rodgers took over as QB, it’s been a slaughter. Rodgers owns the Bears, and there is no getting around that. He is 21-5 against Chicago in his career, so if he stays in Green Bay, you can almost automatically chalk this one up as an L.
Next up is the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, who will be out for revenge against the Bears after losing to Nick Foles last season. Perhaps the Bears should consider starting him again against Tom Brady, as buying into that narrative that Foles owns Brady may be the only way possible that they escape with a win. Otherwise, it’s a dish best served cold.
The 49ers are a team that was severely crippled by injuries last year but should be fully recovered by the time the season starts. That’s bad news, Bears. One of the most talented teams in the league, San Francisco can come into Chicago and lay the hammer down on this team if they are not careful. I’m not a Trey Lance truther, but either he or Jimmy G. could take the whip to this team with the talent around them. Kyle Shanahan will have his team ready to play.
The Steelers are the most winnable game of this gauntlet, simply because they aren’t as good as the other teams, but still present a considerable challenge for the Bears. Playing Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh is not an easy challenge and it never has been, even with his decline over recent years. They boast one of the top defenses in the NFL, with T.J. Watt and company sure to test the young offensive line of the Bears. They can win, but it will be a very tough and gut-wrenching victory if they do.
Lamar Jackson. Need I say much more? With his ability to escape the pocket, and with the new receivers and talent he has around him, stopping him will be an almost impossible task for new defensive coordinator Sean Desai. The dynamic offense run by Baltimore can be stopped, as we saw the Buffalo Bills shut them down during last year’s AFC Divisional Round. However, the Ravens surely have made adjustments to their scheme after being handed that crushing defeat and will be a different team. The saving grace here for the Bears is that they are playing Baltimore after their bye week, where they can study how the Ravens have played in the season. Sadly, I doubt it will be enough.
Despite all the renewed hope in the franchise after their selection of Fields, it is very hard for me to see this team accumulate even 9 wins. I think the best-case scenario for the Bears this year is 8-9, with a more likely outcome of 7-10. This is a middle-of-the-road team no matter who is under center. The Bears are closer to a 5-win team than a 10-win team, and nobody should be shocked if they only win 5 games this season. It will be tough going for Matt Nagy’s team, and we can only hope that after another losing season, Pace will get the heave-ho.