The first Sunday night game of the 2021 NFL season will see the Chicago Bears opening at the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 12. It will be the fourth straight season the Bears and Rams will meet in prime time. L.A. has opened as a 6.5-point favorite (total of 46) on the NFL odds behind new starting QB Matthew Stafford. Chicago will have new QB Andy Dalton under center barring something really unforeseen. The Bears also play in Detroit on Thanksgiving for the third time in the past four seasons.
No general manager/coach duo enters the NFL on a hotter seat than the Bears' Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. While most Bears fans were solidly on the "fire both" bandwagon for a large chunk of this offseason, that all changed on the night of April 28 in Cleveland when Pace traded up from No. 20 overall to No. 11 to land Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. William Hill Sportsbook gives the Bears an Over/Under win total of 7.5 this season, while the SportsLine Projection Model forecasts 7.9 victories.
Off an 8-8 mark in 2020, if the Bears finish Under 7.5 this year even with the added 17th game, then Nagy probably is a goner. However, Pace might have extended his job security at least one more year by snagging Fields, widely considered the No. 2 quarterback in the class behind No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville. Pace gave up four draft picks to the Giants to move up to No. 11, including a 2022 first-rounder that could easily fall in the Top 10.
Of course, Pace also made a bold trade in 2017 to take North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall, and Trubisky was a huge failure, not even brought back on his fifth-year rookie option. Pace also failed miserably in last year's trade for Nick Foles, and he puzzlingly gave Dalton a one-year, $10 million contract this offseason as the presumed starter even though no other team was going to give Dalton near that much.
And, yes, Dalton is going to start Week 1 barring injury. However, Bears fans will be calling for Fields at the first Dalton turnover. Journeyman Mike Glennon started the first four games in 2017 until being replaced by Trubisky. If Fields is playing by Week 5 this year, the Bears probably are in deep trouble at least for the 2021 season.
Chicago was tight up against the salary cap this offseason so other than signing Dalton and former Chiefs running back Damien Williams and slapping the franchise tag on receiver Allen Robinson, the team didn't do a heck of a lot. The team also let go of starting left tackle Charles Leno in a cap move after Pace traded up in Round 2 of the draft to take Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins.
That O-Line is still a major question mark, as is the secondary after Pace released former Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller. Running back looks strong with David Montgomery, Williams and Tarik Cohen, lost early last season to injury.
The Bears aren't winning Super Bowl 56 or perhaps even making the playoffs, especially with a very tough schedule, but this year will be considered a huge success if Fields shows signs of being the team's first star quarterback since Sid Luckman.
The Bears' 2021 schedule is ranked as the 3rd-toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – visiting the Raiders is the 17th game -- were a combined 149-122-1 last season.
Chicago Bears trends/William Hill Sportsbook odds
- 2020 record: 8-8 (8-8 against the spread, 8-8 Over/Under)
- 2021 strength of schedule rank: 3rd (opponents' combined winning percentage of .550)
- 2021 Over/Under win total: 7.5
- SportsLine Projection Model forecasted wins: 7.9
- Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +5000
- To win NFC: +2200
- To win NFC North: +325
- To make playoffs: No -190, yes +160
- NFL MVP odds: Khalil Mack +10000, Justin Fields +12500
Chicago Bears Schedule
Week 1 at Los Angeles Rams (SNF): Teams have played three straight seasons and all three went Under total
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Clubs have split the past 10 straight up with Bears winning big in 2017
Week 3 at Cleveland Browns: Cleveland is 1-4 SU & ATS in five meetings since returning to NFL
Week 4 vs. Detroit Lions: Detroit pulled 34-30 upset last year in Chicago as 3-point underdog
Week 5 at Las Vegas Raiders: Added 17th opponent: Raiders won last meeting 24-21 in Oakland two years ago
Week 6 vs. Green Bay Packers: Green Bay rolled 35-16 at Soldier Field to close 2020 regular season
Week 7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chicago upset the eventual champs 20-19 last year at Soldier Field
Week 8 vs. San Francisco 49ers: Teams have split the past six meetings overall SU & ATS (last in 2018)
Week 9 at Pittsburgh Steelers (MNF): Chicago has won past three SU & ATS in series overall
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 vs. Baltimore Ravens: Bears have won three of past four (2-2 ATS) in series overall
Week 12 at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving): Chicago won third straight in Motown (2-1 ATS) last year 27-23
Week 13 vs. Arizona Cardinals: Cards are 4-1 in past five meetings overall but teams haven't met since 2018
Week 14 at Green Bay Packers (SNF): Bears haven't won at Lambeau since 2015 or covered there since 2018
Week 15 vs. Minnesota Vikings (MNF): Chicago's four-game ATS win streak at home in series ended in 19-13 loss last year
Week 16 at Seattle Seahawks: Bears' first trip to Seattle since 26-0 loss in 2015
Week 17 vs. New York Giants: New York is 6-1 in past seven meetings overall, covering last year in 17-13 loss
Week 18 at Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota has dropped past three at home in series, 33-27 last year
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