Chicago Bears 2008 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2007 Record 7-9 (7-9 ATS)
Stadium: Soldier Field
Head Coach:Lovie Smith (4th Season 38-30)
Training Camp Site: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Ill.
Training Camp Dates: July 22 August 14
Just one year removed from reaching the Super Bowl, the Chicago Bears fell flat on their face last season and dropped all the way down into
last place in the NFC North Division. Once again, it was the Bears
lack of offense that killed any hopes of reaching the same lofty
heights in 2007.
This year the Bears have the same questions that they must find
answers to in order to right the ship. Is Rex Grossman the Bears
quarterback, or is it Kyle Orton? Will they find a running back to
lighten the pressure n the quarterback showdown? Can the defense stay
healthy and stay off the field long enough to get the Bears back into
contention among the NFCs elite? So many questions, well find out
the answers in 2008.
Whos In/Whos Out
The Chicago Bears were one of the hardest hit teams in free agency this summer.
The Bears passing game will be totally revamped in 2008 because they lost both starting wide receivers when Muhsin Muhammad went back to
Carolina and Bernard Berrian left for NFC North rival Minnesota. So
the Bears brought in Marty Booker (from Miami) and Brandon Lloyd
(from Washington) in free agency to replace them on the roster.
They also signed former Detroit Lions running back Kevin Jones in the Bears never-ending search for a franchise running back. Jones was
needed because they thinned their own ranks when they released
disappointing running back Cedric Benson when he couldnt stay out of
trouble this offseason.
Also lost as free agents were: LB Brendon Ayanbadejo, O-lineman Fred
Miller and Ruben Brown and defensive tackle Darwin Walker.
But the Bears reloaded the roster by adding 13 players in the 2008 draft. Top-pick Chris Williams (Vanderbilt) will step into the
starting left tackle spot on the offensive line, and second-round
pick Matt Forte (Tulane) will likely be the top running back come
The rest of the Bears draft provides them will depth and position
competition, with wide receiver (3rd Earl Bennent, 3rd Andre
Caldwell, 7th Marcus Monk) and offensive line (7th Chester Adams,
7th Kirk Barton) being the positions where they loaded up the most.
Even in their Super Bowl season in 2006, the Bears offense has never
been all that good. The main reason for that is because quarterback
Rex Grossman is the poster child for inconsistency. Grossman (54.2
comp.%, 4 TD, 7 INT, 66.4 passer rating) has the better arm and more
talent, but Kyle Orton (53.8 comp.% , 3 TD, 2 INT, 73.9 passer
rating) may eventually win the job because he is steadier and less
prone to interceptions and mistakes.
The battle between Grossman and Orton will be the headline every day during training camp, but finding a starter at running back is of
equal importance for the Bears. The Bears running game was 30th in
rushing yards per game (83.1), and the Bears seem content to give the
rookie Forte the job. Jones could work into the mix as well.
The offense will also be dealing with a new receiver core, and honestly, neither Booker ( 556 yards, 1 TD) nor Lloyd (2 receptions
for 14 yards) does much of anything to make Bears fans jump for joy.
Look for tight ends Greg Olson (391 yds., 2 TD) and Desmond Clark
(545 yds., 4 TD) to become the go-to guys on third downs for
whichever QB wins the gig. The Bears will also have to expand the
role of returner Devin Hester on offense if they hope to bust a big
play, because on paper it looks very vanilla.
By drafting Williams to play left tackle the Bears can move John Tait to right tackle and immediately the offensive line will improves.
Center Olin Kreutz is a solid center and together with right guard
Roberto Garza the o-line should be better at opening up holes for the
The once stellar Bears defense broke down last season, dropping them to 28th in the league in yards allowed at 345.7 per game. The
secondary, which played without safety Mike Brown and corner Nathan
Vasher for much of last season, ended up 27th in the NFL allowing
231.8 yards a game.
The good news is both Brown and Vasher are back healthy, so the
secondary should improve. Corner Charles Tillman, safety Brandon
McGowan and nickleback Ricky Manning give the Bears enough depth in
the secondary to play against three- and four-receiver sets.
Defensive tackle Tommie Harris and linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher all signed new deals and are healthy and ready to get
the Bears run defense back to the level it was in 06. Ends Mark
Anderson and Adewale Ogunleye provide enough pass rush off the edge,
but finding a new tackle to replace the loss of Walker (Anthony Adams
and Dusty Dvoracek are candidates) and just develop overall depth
will be one of the big goals in training camp.
To me, its still amazing that teams still try and kick the ball to
Devin Hester and let him get his hands on the ball. Hester reportedly
will not report to training camp without a new deal, but when he
returns he remains the best return man in the game right now with six
touchdowns last season.
The best returner together with kicker Robbie Gould (31-of-36
(86.1%), long of 49) and punter Brad Maynard (37.4 net ave., 27
inside 20-yardline) gives the Bears one of the best special teams
units overall, one that will no doubt be a favorite amongst fantasy
Sept. 7 at Indianapolis Colts
Sept. 14 at Carolina Panthers
Sept. 21 TAMPA BAY BUCANEERS
Sept. 28 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Oct. 5 at Detroit Lions
Oct. 12 at Atlanta Falcons
Oct. 19 MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Oct. 26 Bye
Nov. 2 DETROIT LIONS
Nov. 9 TENNESSEE TITANS
Nov. 16 at Green Bay Packers
Nov. 23 at St. Louis Rams
Nov. 30 at Minnesota Vikings
Dec. 7 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Dec. 11 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Dec. 22 GREEN BAY PACKERS
Dec. 28 at Houston Texans
Betting Odds and Projections
The Chicago Bears finished the 2007 season with the exact straight-up
record and against-the-spread record, a meager 7-9. But it is
interesting to note that they came in over the total at a 9-7 clip,
which is an indication that oddsmakers in Las Vegas still give
Chicago totals in the high-30s, low-40s range.
With indecision at quarterback, the Bears opened at 40-to-1 odds at winning the 2008 Super Bowl. If the Bears can recapture the swagger
on defense and stay healthy, a 40-to-1 odd bet isnt bad value. But
in the end the Bears decision to just ride it out with either
Grossman or Orton will cost them, and the Bears offense will continue
to drag this team down.
If this team gets into December still in playoff contention, theyll
have earned it by getting through a brutal schedule in November with
three straight road games in Green Bay, St. Louis and Minnesota, all
NFC teams they will need to beat. The good news is they play
Jacksonville, New Orleans and Green Bay all at home on Soldier Field
to start December, before ending on the road in Houston.
Bet on Bears sides, totals, first halves and 2nd halves using your credit card at Superbook Sportsbook.