Will the Chicago Bears win more than seven games in 2021?

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April 14th, 2021

The Chicago Bears were a playoff team in 2020, but the projected team total for 2021 is set lower than last year’s eight-win campaign.

Let’s break down how the roster stacks up for the Bears, look ahead to their schedule, and determine how you should bet on the Chicago team total heading into the 2021 season.

2020 recap

Chicago made the playoffs as a Wild Card team, even though it lost six consecutive games, from late October through early December. Just one of the Bears' eight victories came against a team with a winning record, which was a one-point victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bears were able to win games despite poor play at quarterback, which had them rotate between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. They combined for 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and neither threw for more than 225 yards per game. A Bears wide receiver surpassed 100 yards just four times (all by Allen Robinson).

The running game was key, but it was the Bears defense that often won games. It held Chicago's opponents fewer than 20 points in five of its eight victories.

Additions and departures

The Bears made their biggest additions on offense, an obvious focus, given their offensive woes.

The most important change was the addition of Andy Dalton at quarterback. They also added Damien Williams, a running back who will provide a solid change of pace in the backfield. They slapped the franchise tag on Robinson, which locks down their best offensive weapon for another season or allows for a return on him via a trade. They also re-signed Germain Ifedi, who will help shore up either right tackle or right guard.

Trubisky is long gone, as is cornerback Kyle Fuller, who the cap-strapped Bears had to release for financial reasons. Desmond Trufant was signed to a one-year deal as a stop-gap replacement, so the Bears will likely look to the draft to replace him. Safety Tashaun Gipson is gone, as well, but remains unsigned as many hope the Bears will find a way to bring him back.

The Bears have the 20th pick in the draft, which might not be good enough to aim for a quarterback. Foles is still in the fold, so adding a third quarterback on contract wouldn’t make much sense. Many expect the Bears to target offensive linemen, and they will not have a pick in the fourth round but have four picks in the sixth, so depth on the line and in the secondary will likely be the focus.

Should you bet the Over or Under?

The schedule for the Bears will be tougher in 2021, with half of their games against teams that made the playoffs last year. They will travel to Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas next season, which should all be difficult tests. In divisional play, only the Lions and Vikings present road games where the Bears could be favored to win.

Their home schedule isn’t easy, either. While they will host the Giants, Bengals, and Cardinals, they also will square off with San Francisco and Baltimore. With five games that should be wins, they would need to find three more victories to secure another 8-8 campaign.

While Dalton is an improvement at quarterback, he will not help their ability to hit big plays. According to PFF, the former Cowboys backup ranked 30th in in big-time throw rate last season. Against secondaries like those he will face in Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and Green Bay, that will not be enough to get the job done. 

While the Bears defense is mainly intact, the loss of Fuller will be a big blow to the secondary, especially against some of the offensive firepower on the Chicago schedule.

Unless Chicago makes a move via trade to improve its quarterback situation, the Bears will face much of the same concerns as last season. The defense will keep them in games, and their running game will be improved, with the addition of Williams.

However, in the NFL, you need a good quarterback to take that next step. I see the Bears taking a step backward in 2021, and their win total will, as well.