Chicago Bears 2024 Predictions and Odds:

Most No. 1 picks walk into a really difficult situation. As far as quarterbacks go, Caleb Williams is actually set up pretty well. The Bears have a well-established offensive line, quality skill-position weapons, and a really good defense, at least after the acquisition of Montez Sweat last season.

After going 7-10 last season, the Bears are lined at 8.5, but the juice is very heavy on the Over since the order of the schedule appears to give Williams an opportunity to get his legs under him with some lesser foes early in the year.

 

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That being said, we’ve seen preseason hype fall short before.

Offense

The upside and potential of the USC product are undeniable, and the Bears have really set him up for some quick success. Rome Odunze was viewed as the 1b to 1a Marvin Harrison Jr. in the minds of some talent evaluators and he made it down to No. 9 when the Bears picked again. Add in proven veterans DJ Moore and Keenan Allen at WR, plus a solid TE in Cole Kmet, and Williams has weapons.

Mix in a 1,000-yard rusher in D’Andre Swift and this doesn’t look like a team that would have picked first. But, that’s precisely what happened because the Bears played the long game and traded the No. 1 pick in 2023 for a pick swap with the Panthers, who drafted Bryce Young and then finished 32nd this past season. That trade could not have worked out better for the Bears.

The Bears gave up nearly 1,000 more passing yards than they gained. They ran the ball effectively with their stable of backs and QB Justin Fields, but this will now be a much more balanced offense and Swift’s addition in the backfield should mean that they continue to run the rock well, just in a more traditional way.

Defense

You can basically grade the Bears defense as “BM” and “AM” from last season. The Bears acquired Montez Sweat on Halloween and it was more treats than tricks from that point forward. From Week 1 through Week 8, the Bears defense ranked 30th in EPA/play. They were very successful against the run and actually ranked third in Rush EPA against and Rushing Success Rate against. But, they were 31st in Dropback EPA.

From Week 9 through Week 18, the Bears defense was fifth in EPA/play. They continued to play well against the run, but ranked fourth in Dropback EPA against and sixth in Dropback Success Rate against. From Week 9 through Week 8, the Bears had 16 interceptions against 14 TD passes and had 20 sacks in nine games. Prior to Sweat’s arrival, they had a 17/6 TD/INT ratio against with 10 sacks in eight games.

Sweat was the missing piece and DC Alan Williams made the right adjustments, so this is a group with high hopes for 2024.

Outlook

Opinions turned quickly on Matt Eberflus and the coaching staff last season. Now there are some expectations to meet. If the Bears meet them and remain status quo or better on defense, the hype is beyond warranted. This looks like a potentially robust offense, but it will be up to Williams to steer the ship. I’ll buy the hype because of the supporting cast, but I don’t think Williams is in for a Stroud-esque year. I’d lean Over 8.5, but wouldn’t bet it because of the extreme vig.

Chicago Bears Pick: Over 8.5 Wins