Mitchell Trubisky

Bears rank 2nd among teams likely to end playoff drought

Bears rank 2nd among teams likely to end playoff drought

The Chicago Bears haven't made the playoffs since 2010, which ranks behind only the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the longest stretch without a post-season birth.

According to NFL.com, the Bears' offseason moves have them poised to end their playoff drought. In fact, they're ranked the second most likely team to end the undesirable streak behind only the Chargers.

The Bears have been the offseason favorite to enjoy a Rams-like turnaround next season. The reasons why are obvious. From the new, offensive-minded head coach to the young ascending quarterback, Chicago has all the ingredients for a playoff run.

A team with a talented roster -- and a highly drafted rookie QB -- underachieves behind an old-school coach. But then, that team hires a sizzling, young, brilliant offensive mind with a playbook for the modern NFL, makes a huge splash in free agency and adds some pieces in the draft to eventually become the toast of the NFL.

Wait, that was last year's Rams, right? Yes. But in 2018, Matt Nagy, Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears have dibs on this surging narrative. Only this time, the sequel will be better than the original. Like "The Dark Knight" and whatnot.

Every team looks better in the offseason. The Bears are no exception. But there's something special brewing under Nagy's watch. Whether it's hopeless optimism or something more, a lot is riding on Chicago having a successful season in 2018.

Ryan Pace knows it. 

Daniel Jeremiah says Bears will have most improved offense in 2018

Daniel Jeremiah says Bears will have most improved offense in 2018

The Chicago Bears invested most of their offseason capital on offensive skill players, including prized receiver Allen Rohinson.

Ryan Paces's focus has been on building around Mitchell Trubisky, and according to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, the result will be the league's most improved offense. 

Robinson is only one of several new receivers in Trubisky's arsenal. 

Taylor Gabriel was signed to bring top-end speed and explosiveness. Trey Burton was added to become the Bears' version of Travis Kelce. Anthony Miller was drafted in the second round to compete with Kevin White for first-team reps.

Can Trubisky match what Jared Goff did in Los Angeles in Year 2 of his career? Pace certainly hopes so. And the expectations are quickly becoming just that.

The most important addition on offense, however, may be Matt Nagy, the young and innovative offensive-minded coach who will put all the new pieces in place. If he fails, the whole team fails.

There's been a lot of change on offense in only one offseaon. It may take time for the unit to gel, but once it does, points -- and lots of them -- are expected.

Five hypothetical Bears prop bets for the 2018 season

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USA Today Sports Images

Five hypothetical Bears prop bets for the 2018 season

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision Monday to overturn a 1992 federal law that banned states from allowing gambling on games, chances are in the near future you’ll be able to freely bet on the NFL and the Bears in Illinois. 

So with that in mind, let’s look at some hypothetical prop bets for the 2018 Bears…

Jordan Howard rushing yards, over/under 999 1/2

Only 17 players since the AFL-NFL merger have rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of their first three seasons. Jordan Howard will vie to be the 18th after rushing for 1,313 and 1,122 yards in his first two seasons with the Bears. On one hand, his role may change in a new offense with more weapons around him than he’s ever had. On the other hand, 43 percent of Howard’s rushing attempts in 2017 came with eight or more defenders in the box — so having more weapons and a less predictable offense could help him get over that 1,000-yard mark again in 2018. 

More receptions: Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller or the entire Bears 2017 receiver group

Bears receivers combined for 133 receptions last year, while Allen Robinson averaged 76 receptions in 2015-2016 and Anthony Miller averaged 95 1/2 receptions in 2016-2017. This would require some lofty projections for Robinson and Miller — say, 75 catches for Robinson and 59 for Miller — but the Bears didn’t invest so much money and draft capital into those two players for them not to be productive in 2018. 

More receptions/yards: Kevin White in 2018 or Kevin White’s career totals

White enters the final year of his rookie deal with 21 receptions for 193 yards in only five career games, meaning he’ll have to prove in 2018 to not only the Bears but the rest of the NFL he can still be a productive player worthy of a roster spot. The Bears insulated themselves from needing to rely on White’s production in 2018 with the additions of Robinson, Miller, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, but there’s a thought that the new coaching staff could re-invigorate White’s career. If he’s healthy and he’s productive, surpassing his career totals shouldn’t be a problem; but those two things haven’t been a given in his tough-luck time in the NFL. 

More interceptions: Mitch Trubisky or the Bears’ defense

On the surface, you’d think this is an easy call toward the Bears’ defense, right? Not so much. Trubisky threw seven interceptions last year in an offense that was designed to keep him from making mistakes; the Bears’ defense has intercepted only eight passes in each of the last three seasons. If Trubisky attempts 500 passes and his rookie interception rate of 2.1 percent stays the same, that would give him between 10 and 11 interceptions in 2018. The Bears’ defense needs to find more ways to turn the ball over if it wants to be better, but if it doesn’t, Trubisky could wind up with the higher pick total. 

The higher total for Tarik Cohen: Number of nicknames or number of ways he scores a touchdown

Cohen, also known as “Big Daddy,” “Chicken Salad,” “The Human Joystick” and “Chocolate Badger” notched rushing, receiving, passing and punt returning touchdowns in 2018. Either he adds a new nickname, retires one of them or returns a field goal or kick for a touchdown — or, why not, he finds his way onto the field on defense and has a pick-six. Don't put it past him.