Remember back in August when everyone was saying that this Bears team would win between seven and nine games?
Well, it’s fair to say that a lot has happened since then…
Winds of Change
Head Coach Matt Nagy, a genuine ‘Coach of the Year’ candidate, has brought a refreshing wind of change along with a dose of dancing, a helping of honesty and a large lick of likeability.
The emergence and continued development of Mitchell Trubisky as a top-flight quarterback have been fuelled by a stack of offensive weapons and a re-invigorated offensive line.
The arrival of Khalil Mack has given super-powers to a defense that was already better than most observers gave it credit for. Stars have been born at every level of what’s rapidly shaping up to be the best defensive unit in the NFL.
The John Fox era seems like an eternity ago and it’s fun to be a Bears fan again.
But who, outside of Bears fans and media is really taking notice? In the last three weeks, it seems as if national media analysts have discussed 2018’s squad more than they have mentioned all Bears teams combined over the last decade. Chicago seems to be a ‘fashionable pick’ but, more often than not, it will quickly be knocked back by other talking heads.
A lot of fans of other teams (especially NFC North teams) will still tell you that the Bears have a weak schedule and that the team has failed whenever it’s faced a real challenge.
But what about the bookmakers? The guys who are actually paid to get it right? Let’s look at the Super Bowl lines for NFL teams and how they’ve changed since preseason:
This graphic shows the Bears as one of three teams who have forced themselves in to the top ten, emerging as the 7th favorite. The Eagles, Falcons, and Packers have all fallen away as contenders. (N.b. the Saints are likely to take a tumble after their Thursday night loss to the Dallas Cowboys. A point of interest for the playoffs – Apparently Drew Brees doesn’t deal well with interior pressure…).
As you’d expect, there are some familiar names near the top of the list. Consistently make the playoffs and guess what? You’ll be favored to do it again. Whose odds have improved the most since the beginning of the 2018-19 NFL year?
Back in February 2018, the Bears were listed as the 30th most likely team to win this season’s Super Bowl in Atlanta. They’ve shortened their odds by a staggering 6800 points to +1400. This is clearly no guarantee of success but one thing it does tell you? Oddsmakers have realized that the Bears are the real deal and that they, like the rest of the country, significantly underrated them earlier in the year.
Who knows how far the ride will go? The playoffs are now a virtual certainty but beyond that, as the Philadelphia Eagles showed last season, it’s genuinely anyone’s game.
You can follow Matt on Twitter
Image: USA Today