If not for upset Colts fans following the retirement of Andrew Luck, the Twitter mentions of Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit would be a war zone of angry Bears fans who read his NFL predictions for the 2019 season.
In the latest print edition of the magazine, Benoit projects Chicago to finish 7-9 this year — last in the NFC North.
How disrespectful! It's crazy how Sports Illustrated could place the Bears at 4th in the NFC North. I guess we'll have to prove them wrong again! @ChicagoBears @SInow #BearDown #ChicagoBears @FiftyDeuce pic.twitter.com/T8nd4jqzZJ— EikeyX ✪ (@EikeyX) August 25, 2019
His NFL predictions don’t have a web version as of yet, but he sees the Minnesota Vikings winning the division and taking the No. 3 seed in the playoffs at 11-5. The Green Bay Packers finish second at 10-6 with a wildcard spot, and even the Detroit Lions end up ahead of the Bears at 9-7.
Benoit’s analysis is based on expecting a step back from Chicago’s defense that led the NFL in 2018. He also foresees “mixed results” from Mitchell Trubisky during his second season in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Benoit ranks the Bears quarterback, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all outside of the top 20 position groups in the NFL, with the offensive line ranking 10th. He still likes the front seven as the best unit in the league, but he sees the secondary as average at No. 17.
He’s not the first analyst to forecast regression for the Bears this season, but not many have gone as far to put them at the bottom of the division after last year’s 12-4 breakout.
The pitchforks and torches may fly off the shelves faster than Sports Illustrated magazines in Chicago this week.
The entire NFL is still reeling from the Andrew Luck’s bombshell decision to retire from football.
The story that overshadowed the Bears third preseason game in Indianapolis has the whole league reacting to the bold move from one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game.
Former Colts head coach and current Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano issued a statement Sunday on the player he drafted No. 1 overall in 2012.
Pagano: “I will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan.” pic.twitter.com/Acvd9WbH9m— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 25, 2019
“Our friendship extends well beyond player-coach and I wish him, his beautiful wife Nicole and their growing family nothing but the best,” Pagano said. “I will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan.”
Pagano and Luck combined to go 43-27 over five seasons together. The head coach saw his quarterback through abdomen and shoulder injuries that eventually cost him the entire 2017 season and led to Pagano’s departure.
Luck, of course, was by his coach’s side when he battled Leukemia in 2012.
The quarterback’s retirement ultimately comes down to his health, and Pagano knows better than anyone how Luck battled through issues the last seven years.