NFL Projections

Worst to first? Could the Bears go from last place in the NFC North to first?

A rare feat with a small possibility of coming to fruition

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Over the last 10 years, 10 teams have gone from worst to first in their division, according to a USA Today story from 2022.

Could the Bears join that club, going from last to first place in the NFC North in 2023? Let's break it down.

Last season

The Bears finished last in the NFC North and ended their season with the NFL's worst record: 3-14. They won two of their first three games, failing to tally another W the rest of the season.

The Minnesota Vikings finished tremendously, winning 13 games -- tied for the second-most in the NFC. They won 11 of their 13 games by one score, showing their ability to finish in close situations. Kirk Cousins finished with the fourth-most passing yards and fifth-most passing touchdowns on the season.

The Detroit Lions have been building for multiple offseasons, putting together a respectable roster heading into 2022. They didn't start how they hoped, losing six of their first seven games. Though, they finished strong, going 8-2 in the last final game and coming inches away from a playoff spot.

The Green Bay Packers didn't have the season they wished for after signing Aaron Rodgers to a 3-year extension worth $150 million and change. They finished 8-9, marking the first season since 2018 they didn't make the playoffs.

The offseason

Bears: Finishing last in the NFL has its perks. The Bears earned the rights to the No. 1 overall draft pick, which they flipped for future picks and wide receiver DJ Moore. They quickly bolstered their linebacker group with Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards in free agency. At the draft, they notched Darnell Wright to become their starting right tackle.

Vikings: By the looks of it, Minnesota lost more than they gained in the offseason. Eric Kendricks, Irv Smith Jr., Dalvin Cook and Patrick Peterson will no longer don the gold and purple. But, they brought in Byron Murphy Jr. and Marcus Davenport while hanging on to center Garrett Bradbury. Their draft had some names, most notably Mekhi Blackmon.

Lions: The Lions' roster was already good, and now it's even better. They lost recognizable names like Jamaal Williams and D.J. Chark. But they brought in bigger ones: CJ Gardner-Johnson, David Montgomery, Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Mosely. On paper, they're the most threatening team in the North.

Packers: Need I say much? Aaron Rodgers is long gone. All eyes are on Jordan Love. Along with Rodgers, they lost a lot of names, too. Adrian Amos, Allen Lazard, Jarran Reed and Robert Tonyan are out of the building. They're a wild card, especially with Matt LaFleur running the show, but I'd say the weakest link of the division.


Going from worst to first is a rare feat. And for the Bears, they haven't jumped to a formidable threshold at this point.

They shuffled the cards and stacked the deck this offseason, bringing in various pieces from free agency and the draft.

But question marks remain.

Can Justin Fields take another step? What's the ceiling for the offensive line? The floor? Can DJ Moore become a No. 1 receiver? Can Chase Claypool live up to expectations?

The defensive line is the biggest concern, at this moment. The Bears did nothing to address the pass rushers, replacing Robert Quinn with Rasheem Green, DeMarcus Walker and a band of average players. The same goes for the three techniques on the roster.

Absolute best-case scenario? The rest of the NFC North teams don't live up to their expectations, and the Bears exceed theirs to win the division. But it's unlikely, in my opinion, considering they're still in the early, developmental stages of their full-scale rebuild.

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