Even though the Bears have fairly long odds to win the division, they’re being recognized as “best value” bets for several futures.
An overall regression in 2019, coupled with an upcoming quarterback competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, soured oddsmakers on the team.
As things stand on Monday morning, the Bears have the third-longest odds to win the division at +400, putting them behind the Vikings and Packers at +165 and +170, respectively.
But you can find value in picking the Bears to win the division when you look at the win total over/under futures, as well.
Right now, the Bears sit at 7.5 wins, behind the Packers at 9 wins and Vikings at 8.5. With things projected to be so tight from a win total standpoint, the Bears have been recognized as a “best value” pick to win the NFC North since their defense can steal any game on the schedule, adding a win or two and propelling them to a division crown.
Using that same logic, the Bears have also been recognized with a “best value” pick to hit the over on their 7.5 win total.
There’s no reason to think the defense will take a step back from last season-- in fact by all accounts, the squad should improve again with Robert Quinn in the fold, and Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack fully healthy again.
While things may develop a little more slowly on the offensive side due to the aforementioned QB competition, any uptick in offensive production should help the team improve on their 8-8 record from last season, making it easy to see why taking the over on 7.5 wins feels like a great value bet.
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Pat Boyle, David Haugh and Mark Carman join Kap on a Wednesday edition of STL.
0:00 - MLB teams continue to get ready for Opening Day. Should players feel any more confident in the league’s testing practices?
4:00 - Patrick Mahomes got a 10-year contract extension from the Chiefs. Are any current Chicago athletes worthy of a 10-year extension?
9:30 - KC Johnson joins Kap to look back at “The Decision” on its 10th anniversary. Just how close were the Bulls to landing LeBron, Bosh and Wade?
19:00 - The panel remembers where they were when LeBron made “The Decision”. Plus, they give their Blackhawks playoff odds.
Listen here or below.
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It wasn't long ago that the Chicago Bears offensive line was considered a strength of the team. They were one of the best in the NFL in 2018. The Bears' starting five was a big reason why the team went 12-4 and won the NFC North that year, but that wasn't the case in 2019. Chicago's offensive line had a lot to do with the team's underwhelming 8-8 season.
As a result, the Bears' starting group isn't getting much respect entering the 2020 season. According to Pro Football Focus' recent ranking of all 32 offensive lines, Chicago checks in at No. 22.
The Bears regressed from a fringe top-10 offensive line in 2018 to the 25th-ranked unit last season despite most of the group remaining intact. Left tackle Charles Leno saw the biggest drop-off in play, as he had four straight seasons grading in the 70s from 2015 to 2018 but finished at just 58.6 overall last season, good for just 64th out of 82 qualifiers. Leno earned his worst pass-blocking grade since 2015 while posting the lowest run-blocking grade of his career, at 47.5.
While PFF's ranking isn't great, there was a bit of optimism baked in. The analytics powerhouse still believes in the o-line's potential.
The Bears have the pieces to rank among the top 10-15 offensive lines in the league, but they need the tackles to get back to their 2018 form to go with progression from at least two players on the interior.
One of the big reasons why the Bears' offensive line struggled last year was the aftermath of Kyle Long's injury. Rashaad Coward was elevated to the first team; Cody Whitehair and James Daniels swapped positions. The best offensive lines have continuity, and that was lost in 2019.
With Germain Ifedi stepping into the right guard spot in 2020, and both Whitehair and Daniels settled in at center and left guard, the Bears will begin this season in much better shape and with a much better chance to return to the level of play we saw in 2018.