Under Center Podcast

Will Bears win NFC North, earn Wild Card spot or miss playoffs? Our staff predictions

Things should be better for the Bears this year, but how much better?

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It’s prediction time for the Under Center Podcast. One week after the Bears and the rest of the NFL released the full schedule, the crew broke down the team’s odds to both win the division, or qualify for the postseason as a Wild Card team.

Here’s a (lightly edited for clarity) transcript of the conversation:

Will the Bears win the NFC North this year?

Alex Shapiro: I think this team might be still third in the NFC North.

Josh Schrock: If I were a gambling man– I don't gamble– I would probably put it 50-1, 40-1.

I just think they're a year away. They're talented, they're young, but Detroit is better. Green Bay is better, and Minnesota could be better. Like just for one year Minnesota could hit lightning in a bottle. Sam Darnold, all of a sudden is good for a year. Brian Flores knows what he's doing, and all of a sudden, they win 10 games. It's like, wait, what the hell happened, right? So yeah, it's a long shot there.

Shapiro: It's not a talent thing. For me, it's an established thing. The Bears just came out of the rebuild, right? They went through this whole thing. They've got the pieces in place, and now they're ready to start competing. The other teams in the division have already done that.

The Packers somehow found a way to not rebuild. They just put Jordan Love in there, tweaked the defense and they're fine. They didn't really miss a step. Or at least not a big step, maybe a half step backwards. The Lions as we all know, I mean, they are clearly on the other side of this thing. They're like two years ahead of the Bears.

Kenneth Davis: You still have a rookie quarterback. You have a guy that's now with a new personnel in (offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron, trying to get all of that to become cohesive behind that rookie quarterback. And we still have to see how stout the offensive line is in the middle. Because we think on the edges, they're fine, but we have to see how stout they are in the middle.

Schrock: Look, if a couple breaks go your way, I'm not saying they can't win the NFC North. Certainly, crazier things have happened. There's nothing that says injury doesn't happen here. A team has some bad luck, and all of a sudden the Bears are in first place come December 16. Then it’s like okay maybe they're ahead of schedule.

Will the Bears make the playoffs as a Wild Card team?

Schrock: I think the Bears’ goal should be, come that Monday Night game against Minnesota, you should be in the thick of it. It should be like, ‘Hey, if we take care of business, we're getting a Wild Card spot.’ You should be playing relevant, meaningful football in December. You have the talent to be a playoff contender, a Wild Card contender.

Shapiro: If Josh set the odds at 50-1 for the Bears to win the division, maybe it's even money for them to make the playoffs. What do you think, fellow bookmaker Josh?

Schrock: You know, maybe +112.

Shapiro: So, certainly more likely, but I don't know that I'm ready to call them favorites yet, just because we’ve got to see it. I still view the Rams as a real Wild Card threat behind the 49ers. The Eagles and Dallas, whichever team does not win the division, the other team is probably going to be right there. And then the Packers. So the Bears are going to have to be better than one of those teams.

Then every year there's a surprise team. The Arizona Cardinals, for instance, with Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Kyler Murray playing a full season, is that offense just going to click? Is this going to be the coming out, big, great year for Kyler Murray that a lot of people maybe foresaw when he was playing great early in his career, before he got hurt? The Seahawks, there’s a chance that they're good. There are going to be good teams pushing for that Wild Card spot along with the Bears.

Schrock: They should be in the mix for that six, seven, eight seed for sure.

Later, the guys broke down Caleb Williams’ chances to break a big rookie record. They also shared their full game-by-game predictions for the regular season. To watch the full conversation on YouTube, click here, or listen wherever you find your podcasts.

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