The Chicago Bears' offense exploded last season, as they scored more points than every team not named the Denver Broncos.
Making this offensive overload even more impressive was the fact that they did it without their starting quarterback for a good chunk of the season.
Oft-injured QB Jay Cutler made it into 11 games last season, and still passed for 2621 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Not only do the Bears need Cutler to continue to put up big numbers, they need him to stay in the lineup.
Chicago Bears Odds to Win NFC North: +250 at Bovada
Chicago Bears Odds to Win Super Bowl: 14/1 at Bovada
Chicago Bears Regular Season Win Total: 8.5 at Bovada
Chicago Bears Betting Props: Jay Cutler to Win NFL MVP 20/1 at Bovada
Josh McCown was a respectable fill-in for Cutler last season with 13 touchdowns and one interception, but that earned him a starting gig in Tampa Bay. Cutler hasn’t played a full season since 2009, but with the Chicago backup options much weaker this season he needs to change that.
When Cutler is in there he’ll be surrounded by playmakers. Brandon Marshall has always been Cutler’s top target, but putting Alshon Jeffrey on the other side of the field has made him even better by drawing away double coverage. Running back Matt Forte is coming off the best season of his career with 1339 yards and nine touchdowns and he also had a career high 74 receptions.
As good as the Bears' offense was last season their defense was equally as bad. Maybe even worse. Chicago had the 30th ranked defense, allowing 394.6 yards per game, and the 30th ranked scoring defense, shredded for 29.9 points per game. They were most vulnerable against the run, surrendering 161.4 rushing yards per game, worst in the league.
After that dismal display Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Cory Wootton were all allowed to walk. To try and reload Chicago signed Jared Allen, LeMarr Houston and Willie Young. Allen is the most tantalizing name with double digits sacks in eight of his last nine seasons, but at 34 years of age how much longer can he keep that up? Chicago will also have defensive leader Lance Briggs back after he missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury.
Thanks to their horrible defense the Bears were an awful option for bettors last season at 4-11-1 ATS. It did lead to easy money for OVER bettors, though, at 12-4 on the OVER/UNDER.
NFC North Odds at Bovada as of August 5
Green Bay Packers -110
Chicago Bears +250
Detroit Lions +400
Minnesota Vikings +1000
Despite finishing last season with a 10-6 SU and 7-8-1 ATS record, the Chicago Bears didn’t advance to the playoffs after losing the tiebreaker to Minnesota. The Bears will try to put together another strong season and challenge Green Bay for the top spot in the NFC North.
Odds to Win NFC North: +350 at Bovada
Regular Season Win Total: 8.5 at Bovada
Betting Props: Jay Cutler to win NFL MVP (66/1) at Bovada
Through the first half of the season, the Chicago Bears looked like a lock to win the NFC North, opening up a commanding lead in the division with a 7-1 SU and 5-2-1 ATS record. But the Bears faltered down the stretch, going just 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS over the second half to leave the door open for Green Bay to win the division and Minnesota to sneak in to the final wild card spot.
The re-uniting of quarterback Jay Cutler and wideout Brandon Marshall was a major success. Marshall had 118 catches for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. The bad news was that no one else in the receiving corps made an impact as Cutler finished the season with just 19 passing touchdowns as the Bears ranked 29th in passing offense with just 187.4 yards per game. TE Martellus Bennett was the only help Chicago brought in this offseason, so Cutler, Marshall, and RB Matt Forte will be asked to carry the load again in 2013.
For the first time since 1999, Brian Urlacher will not be a part of the Chicago Bears’ defense. The Bears had the third best scoring defense in the league last season allowing just 17.3 points per game, and finished fifth in total yardage allowed surrendering 315.6 total yards per game. While the Bears have the talent and depth at all three levels to deal with Urlacher’s departure, it will be interesting to see how the unit reacts to having its leader of the last 13 years removed. There are still plenty of veteran leaders on the team including Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Major Wright, so chances are the defense will continue to excel.
NFC North Odds at Bovada as of August 4
Green Bay Packers -160
Chicago Bears +350
Detroit Lions +500
Minnesota Vikings +600