In 2013, the Chicago Bears will step into a new era – one they hope will provide a particularly fruitful period for their quarterback and, by extension, the franchise. They are truly one of the NFL betting wild card teams of 2013-14: they could be boom or they could be bust.
Best Offseason Move:
The Bears had to find a way to give quarterback Jay Cutler more help in terms of pass protection. Cutler likes to throw the ball vertically as opposed to horizontally. He needs more time in the pocket, but an inconsistent offensive line left him vulnerable to hits and injuries. The team acted by signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod from the New Orleans Saints, where he allowed just four sacks last season. One has to keep in mind that precisely because Cutler does require more time in the pocket, Bushrod might allow more sacks in Chicago. Nevertheless, the fact that his front office went out and got a left tackle could be just the thing to improve Cutler’s confidence. Sometimes, the mere demonstration of concern – the attempt to make a player feel more comfortable or valued – can in itself be a source of transformation and improvement for a given player. The Bears naturally hope that Cutler will improve on his own, but they are also betting that Bushrod is going to represent a legitimate upgrade at left tackle. If this move works out, the Bears will stand a very good chance of winning 10 games once again after doing the deed last season. Other pieces of the puzzle will have to emerge on offense, but the Bears have done a reasonably good job of giving Cutler some support on the offensive line.
Worst Offseason Move:
The signing of former New York Giant tight end Martellus Bennett was and is a real head-scratcher. Bennett was not much of a factor with the Giants, and when one realizes that quarterback Eli Manning made good use of tight ends in previous seasons – think of Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard – the relative obscurity of Bennett should speak volumes about his comparative lack of quality. Was this a player the Bears needed in order to improve their collection of pass catchers? Is this the kind of move that’s going to make Cutler feel better about the targets he has to choose from? It’s really hard to answer these questions in the affirmative; the selection of Bennett appears from all angles to be a conspicuously wasted opportunity. The Bears, given the need to find more offensive potency, really whiffed in this respect, though in Bennett’s defense, he should be given a chance to prove the critics wrong.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
Football betting fans know that the Bears were bumped out of the playoffs last season by the Minnesota Vikings, who caught a lot of people (and teams) in the NFL by surprise. Will Minnesota be able to replicate its 2013 feat? Probably not. However, the Bears might have to beat out teams other than the Vikings in order to reach the postseason. Finishing second would obviously be a good start for Chicago, but the Bears will need 10 wins to get back to the postseason, and they’ll probably fall just short because their receivers aren’t good enough.
Super Bowl Odds: +2050