Caleb Williams

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears make playoffs in 2024. Read their explanation why

Caleb Williams is just a piece of the puzzle

NBC Universal, Inc.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated published a list of teams they believe will make the playoffs this season, after missing the postseason last year, and the Bears made the cut. Unsurprisingly, reason No. 1 is new quarterback Caleb Williams.

“His early dealings with the organization have been overwhelmingly positive, the Bears upgraded the offense and Shane Waldron is a really skilled designer of offenses,” wrote Connor Orr.

Beyond Williams, the Bears have added several more playmakers, including wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back D’Andre Swift and tight end Gerald Everett. Of course the Bears will return nearly every starter from their defense, which developed into one of the best units in the league over the course of the 2023 season.

The Bears also have the benefit of playing a last-place schedule, meaning they’ll play against the other last-place finishers in the conference. Several of those teams have not made the same level of personnel improvements as the Bears.

“Peppered throughout Chicago’s schedule are plenty of winnable games and what I’d like to consider “breaks,” though I know the mere mention of any NFL game as easy would cause a coach’s blood to boil,” Orr wrote. “While the end of Williams’s first season will be brutal—with dates against Detroit (twice!), San Francisco and Green Bay—it will be the end of Williams’s first season. In theory, he’ll be better than in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans.”

Of course if the Bears make the playoffs this year, it necessarily means that one of the NFC teams who qualified for the postseason last year will be left out this winter. Orr believes the Lions and Packers will still make it into the tournament, meaning the Bears would be the third NFC North team in the playoffs. He’s got the Cowboys as the odd team out.

“Dallas isn’t markedly better than the Giants anymore,” Orr wrote. “The team’s list of opponents includes the Browns, 49ers, Lions, Ravens, Bengals and Atlanta Falcons, among others. The Cowboys could be considered an underdog in almost every single one of them. They have a lame-duck coach, a taxed staff on uncertain footing and a decaying foundation on which to support a great quarterback, wide receiver and pass rusher. That worries me.”

The Bears finished last year with a 7-10 record. The Packers made it to the postseason with a 9-8 record, so if that threshold is the same in 2024, the Bears will need to make a two-game improvement to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

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