Chicago Bears Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
Second-year head coach Marc Trestman, $100 million quarterback Jay Cutler and a rebuilt defense will lead the Chicago Bears on a quest to dethrone the Green Bay Packers as NFC North champions in 2014.
We now know the 16 games that will test the Bears along their journey, as the NFL officially released its 2014 schedule on Wednesday.
Chicago came this close to knocking off the Packers last season, but a blowout loss in Philadelphia in Week 16 and a fourth-down meltdown against Green Bay in the finale robbed the up-and-coming Bears of a chance to play in the postseason.
In year two of the Trestman era, and with big money ponied up to Cutler, the Bears will enter next season with heightened expectations. This is a club many will deem playoff worthy.
In the following slides, we'll provide way-too-early predictions for every game on Chicago's 2014 schedule.
Week 1: Vs. Buffalo Bills
The Bills went 2-6 away from home last season, with both wins coming against teams that finished 8-8 or worse. A part of the reason was Buffalo's scoring defense, which allowed 20 or more points in each of the first 10 games and 14 of 16 overall. The Bears should score enough points to get an opening win at home.
Prediction: Bears 31, Bills 20 (1-0)
Week 2: At San Francisco 49ers
Tough defensive front. One of the game's most physical running games. An offense that doesn't turn the football over. These are just a few factors that make the 49ers tough for any foe. But they are particularly important to a matchup with the Bears, who probably can't overcome everything San Francisco brings to the table, especially on the road (in prime time for the first game at a new stadium).
Prediction: 49ers 30, Bears 17 (1-1)
Week 3: At New York Jets
The Jets can run the football, which poses a real threat for Chicago—especially at MetLife Stadium. New York went 5-0 at home last season when it ran for more than 100 yards. Rex Ryan's team appears to have found a winning formula. However, it's difficult to see the Jets scoring enough points without a passing game to complement the run. New York threw for over 200 yards in a game just seven times last season. Jay Cutler, who is 2-0 lifetime against the Jets, averaged over 230.
Prediction: Bears 27, Jets 20 (2-1)
Week 4: Vs. Green Bay Packers
Lost in the "Jay Cutler is terrible against Dom Capers" narrative is the fact that Cutler played well enough in the season finale for the Bears to advance. He now has all the weapons around him to consistently play well against any defense, including Capers'. Helping out the pass rush this offseason might also help tip the scales in favor of Chicago at home.
Prediction: Bears 34, Packers 27 (3-1)
Week 5: At Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have no receivers but a stable of capable ball-carriers, which is probably a worst case scenario for the Bears. All jokes aside, the Panthers are rock-solid on defense (second ranked scoring defense in 2013) and dependent on a strong running game (2,026 rushing yards). Carolina also only lost one game at home last season.
Prediction: Panthers 24, Bears 16 (3-2)
Week 6: At Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have always been a different team at home, making this a potentially tricky affair. And while Atlanta is no longer at the level they were to end 2012, this is still a dangerous team with Matt Ryan and a pair of good receivers. Another thing to consider: Chicago went 0-3 in domes last season, including two losses in which the defense gave up more than 40 points.
Prediction: Falcons 34, Bears 21 (3-3)
Week 7: Vs. Miami Dolphins
Jay Cutler has struggled in two career games against the Dolphins, throwing four interceptions and sporting a passer rating of 62.1 (fifth lowest among 32 teams). Then again, he hasn't faced Miami since 2010, and his lone start against them as a member of the Bears finished in a 16-0 win. He'll have help this time around. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall could eat up Miami's pair of short corners (Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan).
Prediction: Bears 27, Dolphins 21 (4-3)
Week 8: At New England Patriots
Jay Cutler is 0-2 with four interceptions and a passer rating of under 50.0 against the Patriots. He'll need to fight off his New England demons or the Bears could be in real trouble on the road against Tom Brady. And while most think of Brady when it comes to the Patriots offense, remember that New England averaged 4.4 per rush and scored 19 rushing touchdowns last season. This could be a bad matchup.
Prediction: Patriots 28, Bears 17 (4-4)
Week 10 : At Green Bay Packers
The Bears finally beat the Packers at Lambeau Field last season, but Aaron Rodgers played just one series. Seneca Wallace gave a poor showing in relief. Overall, Chicago hasn't beat the Packers with a healthy quarterback under center in Green Bay since 2007. Jay Cutler has never done it. If Rodgers is healthy, the Bears will be a road underdog again.
Prediction: Packers 28, Bears 20 (4-5)
Week 11: Vs. Minnesota Vikings
It took a late comeback for the Bears to beat the Vikings in Week 2 last season. Early turnovers (Chicago had four) made the game closer than it should have been. If Marc Trestman can continue calming Jay Cutler, the Bears should be in good shape. But the matchup of Adrian Peterson and the Chicago run defense does loom large.
Prediction: Bears 24, Vikings 14 (5-5)
Week 12: Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A healthy Doug Martin presents a tough test for the Bears run defense, and Josh McCown will have an itch to beat his former team. But you'd like to think Chicago will have a step up on formulating an effective gameplan against McCown, and the Bucs don't seem to have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Bears' high-scoring offense.
Prediction: Bears 27, Buccaneers 17 (6-5)
Week 13: At Detroit Lions
The Bears had four giveaways in Detroit last season, including three Jay Cutler interceptions and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Quarterback play should again determine this road affair. Will Cutler be the quarterback that gave away the game early last season? Or the one who threw just two picks and won seven of his first nine starts against the Lions?
Prediction: Lions 30, Bears 20 (6-6)
Week 14: Vs. Dallas Cowboys
So much can change year-to-year, but how does anyone look at what the Bears did to the Cowboys in Week 14 last season and then pick Dallas to leave Chicago with a win? The Bears offense had its way with the overmatched Cowboys defense. Maybe Chicago doesn't score 45 points again, but a win is a win.
Prediction: Bears 31, Cowboys 20 (7-6)
Week 15: Vs. New Orleans Saints
The Bears have lost two straight to the Saints, including a 26-18 decision at home last season. New Orleans rushed for just 64 yards in the contest, but Drew Brees threw just six incompletions and Pierre Thomas scored twice. Jay Cutler will again need to be razor sharp (358 yards, two touchdowns) for the Bears to have a chance. Brees is probably the better bet.
Prediction: Saints 27, Bears 23 (7-7)
Week 16: Vs. Detroit Lions
Detroit swept the Bears last season, in part because the Chicago couldn't stop the Lions from running the football (Detroit averaged over 150 rushing yards over two games). Will that trend change in 2014? No one can be sure, but the Bears are better on defense. At home, that improvement should be enough to keep Chicago afloat.
Prediction: Bears 30, Lions 24 (8-7)
Week 17: At Minnesota Vikings
An overtime loss in Minnesota last season ended up being a big one later on. The Bears allowed 246 rushing yards and gave up the game's final 13 points, falling to 6-6 on the season and forcing a mad dash to the finish. This time around, the Bears have a potential playoff spot to play for in the season finale. A win is a must here.
Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 23 (9-7)