Caleb Williams

ESPN analytics low on big Bears improvements, playoff chances. Inside the numbers

Caleb Williams, Keenan Allen and D'Andre Swift coming to the Bears won't affect the team's win total much, per ESPN analytics

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On paper, the Bears are one of the most improved teams in the NFL this year. ESPN analytics doesn’t see those improvements leading to significantly more wins in 2024, however.

On NFL Live, ESPN shared that their analytics believes the Bears will win 8.5 games next year– that’s just one or two wins better than last year’s 7-10 record. Further, their analytics gives the Bears just a 42% chance to make the playoffs.

Former NFL safety and front office exec Louis Riddick believes the Bears will outplay the analytics projections, however.

“This is a team that can make drastic, drastic improvements,” Riddick said on NFL Live. “Could this be a team that rises up and surprises people? Yeah, it could, because person for person, when you’re looking at it on a piece of paper or on a computer screen, they have weapons that can match up with anybody, specifically offensively, and they have an offensive line that is very underrated.”

The key for the Bears to outperform ESPN analytics’ projection in Riddick’s estimation is the relation between rookie quarterback Caleb Williams and new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.

“Can Shane allow Caleb to control things on the football field to the degree where Caleb is able to consistently make good decisions, not turn the football over, not put the football in harm’s way and not turn every play into the ad-lib play, which he knows he’s spectacular at and he knows that he can’t get away with in the NFL?”

One of the major reasons that ESPN analytics is low on the Bears’ playoff chances is that the NFC North has seemingly become one of the most competitive in the NFL. The Lions were a few plays away from reaching the playoffs last year; the Packers won a playoff game with Jordan Love taking over as the team’s starting quarterback; the Vikings have one of the best receiving duos in the league with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, and one of the most creative defensive coordinators in Brian Flores.

Riddick believes the Bears stack up against all three, but of course it’s just June.

“We know the games aren’t played on paper. I think that’s what makes the North, I think, the division to watch this year. Young quarterbacks, lots of offensive firepower, young perimeter players all over the place. It’s going to be fun.”

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