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Bears are in Line for a Bounce-Back Season

The Chicago Bears have been down and out for quite a few years now, but things are finally looking up in the Windy City. Chicago improved its roster on both sides of the ball in the offseason, and the Bears will very likely be an improved bunch in 2016.

Longtime running back Matt Forte is gone, but Jeremy Langford should fill the void nicely. Kevin White, who was drafted in the first round in 2015, missed the entire campaign with a leg injury. White is healthy now and could easily become one of the top young wideouts in the league in the next few years.

As is always the case in Chicago, the Bears will only go as far as inconsistent quarterback Jay Cutler will take them. Cutler takes a lot of flak for many reasons, but I’m not sure if it’s warranted. While he may not be the model of consistency, few signal-callers can match his talent level. He has the capability to carry the offense when he’s zoned in, and he limited his interception number to 11 last year.

Here’s a look at their odds for this season:

Super Bowl +5000

Outside of Illinois, I don’t think many sports bettors have been rushing to get their Bears Super Bowl futures wagers in. Chicago’s last appearance in the big game came in 2006 when they lost to the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts, but they’ve made the playoffs just once since then. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see how it plays out.

NFC Champion +2800

Chicago will be in tough to win leapfrog two teams in their own division, let alone win the NFC banner. The NFC is the best it's been in a long time, as powerhouse clubs like Seattle, Carolina, Green Bay and Arizona will likely duke it out for the right to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. But hey, I’ve been wrong before!

NFC North +900

The Bears find themselves firmly in third place in NFC North odds, as the Packers and Vikings are light-years ahead of them. Only the hapless Lions sit behind them heading into the season. No one expected Minnesota to challenge Green Bay for the division last year, and they ended up garnering the title. If the Packers’ offense falters again and Minnesota struggles to repeat its regular season success, the Bears could make this interesting when no one expects them to.

OVER/UNDER Win total 7.5

This is a very appealing number, and the sportsbooks are clearly protecting themselves in case Chicago has a bounce-back campaign. The Bears haven’t reached the 8-win mark since 2013, but this team is significantly better than last year’s 6-10 bunch. If Cutler can limit his mistakes and head coach John Fox continues to reshape the defense, an 8-8 record or better is not out of the question.

John Fox (+2000) for NFL Head Coach of the Year

In terms of prop value, there isn’t much to be found on the Bears’ roster. But Fox, a veteran bench boss who has a history of success, is the right man to steer the ship. If Fox can turn the Bears into this year’s Vikings and lead them to the playoffs, you have to think he’ll get some consideration for the Head Coach of the Year Award.