The 2018 regular season is quickly approaching as the Chicago Bears have just one preseason game left on the schedule. It’s safe to say that this year’s schedule is a lot easier than the one in 2017. Still, the games are played for a reason.
It’s important to remember it’s not about who you play, it’s about when you play them. Maybe, Tom Brady will be injured when the New England Patriots make the trip to Soldier Field in October. In the NFL, things change week-to-week.
This will be the second post of a four-part series where I will break down each of the Bears opponents and predict if they will win or lose the game. As the season goes on, this will be something fun to reflect on. If you missed the first installment, check it out below.
The first four weeks of the 2018 regular season are mostly favorable matchups for the Bears writes @TLS_Petrusevski. He has scouting reports and makes predictions on what will happen in week's 1-4 here. #Bears #NFL https://t.co/1AqTVea2BM pic.twitter.com/fytBEqiWXj
— The Loop Sports (@TheLoop_Sports) August 16, 2018
Week 5: Bye Week
The Bears will have an early bye week in 2018. That could be a good or bad thing depending on how the first four games go. After four weeks, I have the Bears with a 3-1 record. After an opening night loss to the Packers, the Bears get back on track with three straight wins against teams who all took some steps back this past offseason.
At worst, the Bears should come out of the first four games 2-2. There is no reason they should lose at home to the Seahawks or Buccaneers. Playing on the road, however, is always a challenge in the NFL. The good news for the Bears the away game in Arizona should feel similar to a home game with the amount of Bears fans in attendance.
Week 6: AT Miami Dolphins
Time: 12pm (CT)
At 3-1 coming off a bye week, the Bears will head down to Miami to take on a familiar face in Adam Gase. It will be hot considering the game is being played in Florida, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most players considering the Bears played the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay last season.
It’s hard to call Ryan Tannehill an upgrade from Jay Cutler, but that’s exactly what the Dolphins are doing at the quarterback position in 2018. Tannehill has never won more than eight games as a starter in the NFL. Don’t expect that to change this year.
Running back Jay Ajayi and wide receiver Jarvis Landry are gone, which means the Dolphins lack playmakers. They did bring in Frank Gore and Danny Amendola, who both will see a decent amount of playing time. Albert Wilson was also signed to a monster contract, but he’s been up and down this preseason.
While the offense could be in trouble, the defense may actually improve in 2018. Robert Quinn, Xavien Howard, Cameron Wake, Reshad Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick are a talented group of players that will have to carry the Dolphins for much of the season.
Losing Ndamukong Suh is going to hurt the defensive line. Pro Football Focus has the Dolphins at 24th in their 2018 pass-rush rankings. The Dolphins are going to have to find unique ways to create pressure.
The only thing that could make it difficult for the Bears defense is the hot Florida sun. The Dolphins offense isn’t anything special and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could have a field day toying with Tannehill. Mitch Trubisky should have all day to throw against the Dolphins pass-rush, which means Trey Burton could be in for a big day.
Score: Bears 28 Dolphins 17
Week 7: VS. New England Patriots
Time: 12pm (CT)
The class of the NFL will come to Soldier Field in week seven. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will look to spoil the Bears hot 4-1 start. This game will be a great test for a young Bears team, who has had some early success in the Matt Nagy era.
Many would say that the 2018 Patriots have one of the worst Patriots rosters in recent memory. That doesn’t matter though considering they still have Brady and Bill Belichick. In a bottom heavy AFC East, it’s very likely that the Patriots will find themselves atop of the conference once again.
Early on, the Patriots will be thin at wide receiver with the Julian Edelman suspension. When they play the Bears the Patriots, Edelman will be back. Meaning Fangio will have to game plan for Edelman, Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game.
The Patriots defense had their issues in 2017, but one area where they excelled was against the run. They should be even better in that department in 2018 with the addition of former Cleveland Brown, Danny Shelton. Pro Football Focus ranked the Patriots run-defense third best in the NFL for 2018.
Being balanced on offense is how the Bears offense is going to have success. The problem is they may not be able to run the ball effectively against the Patriots. That will make them one dimensional against one of the best in-game coaches in NFL history.
Score: Patriots 23 Bears 13
Week 8: VS New York Jets
Time: 12pm (CT)
The Bears will face-off against their third straight AFC East opponent when the New York Jets come to town in week eight. At 4-2, the Bears will be one of the many surprises in a wide open NFC. Against the Jets, the home team should have the advantage.
If for some strange reason rookie QB Sam Darnold doesn’t begin the season as the starter, he should be the Jets No. 1 QB by week eight. The former USC Trojan was impressive in the preseason, throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie QBs tend to struggle against Vic Fangio defenses, however.
The Jets also don’t have very many weapons on offense outside of WR Robbie Anderson, who has some off the field issues. They have the second-worst offensive line in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. That combination could mean the Bears defense is in for a big, big day.
Last season, the Jets defense was awful defending the pass. Specifically, against opposing team’s No. 1 wideouts. This offseason they signed Trumaine Johnson to fix that. Still, behind Johnson is Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine, who are average to mediocre players at best.
The Bears offense should have no problem picking apart the Jet’s secondary in this one.
Kyle Fuller gets a pick six, while Trubisky throws for two touchdowns in a Bears lopsided victory. Sound too good to be true? Maybe, if Darnold plays out of his mind. Again, rookie QBs tend to struggle against a defense run by Fangio. So, that’s unlikely to happen.
Score: Bears 31 Jets 17
Record after eight weeks: 5-2.
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