Well the Chicago Bears are back to start a brand new season with a whole new management team in place. Head Coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace were ironically replaced by Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles. Bears fans certainly hope the matching first names are the only similarities between the disastrous old regime and the new one.
Chicago finished 2021 with a 6-11 record and were never a factor in the playoff race. They really struggled on offense averaging just 18.3 points per game. The offensive line offered little protection for first-round pick Justin Fields, the rookie quarterback was under siege, getting sacked 36 times in 11 starts (3-8).
The defense was the strongest aspect of the team but key injuries including to the secondary and star pass rusher Khalil Mack took a toll late in the season. The Bears shipped Mack to the Chargers this off-season and will really be counting on Robert Quinn to match his career-best sack total from last year.
Chicago opens the 2022 season Sunday at Soldier Field against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners (10-7 in 2021) came within a quarter of making the Super Bowl last season and keep a lot of the blue chip players that make them so good. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are the big offensive playmakers for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s unique system.
San Francisco’s defense is very good, led by Nick Bosa and an outstanding defensive line. The big question is at quarterback where first round pick Trey Lance is going to take over for Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G is surprisingly still the backup QB though, so Lance may be looking over his shoulder throughout the season if he has issues.
The experts are almost unanimous in picking the Bears to have another losing season in 2022. With a rebuilding roster they are going to need their young players to take a major steps forward to avoid another down season. A matchup with one of the best teams in the NFC will help show them just how much ground those steps will have to cover.
Where to Watch/Listen
- Sunday, September 11 at at 12:00pm CT on FOX, WBBM Radio (English), and WRTO Radio (Spanish)
Keys to Victory
Here are my keys to Sunday’s game. If these things happen, the Bears should have a shot to win.
- Get the ball out of Fields’ hands as quickly as possible. The Bears offensive line did not improve much this off-season and is not going to fare well against the 49ers pass rush so they should focus on screen passes and quick slants to try to neutralize it.
- Try to establish some sort of running threat. This is going to be a hard task against a stout San Francisco defense but David Montgomery could make things a lot easier for his quarterback if he can move the ball on the ground. Quarterback scrambles also could help Chicago here.
- Keep Trey Lance in the pocket. Lance is inexperienced and will try to make things happen with his legs when plays break down. The Bears have to force him to make him downfield passes and hopefully create some turnovers.
- Make someone other than Deebo Samuel beat you. The 49ers hybrid running back/wide receiver is very hard to contain. He could easily wreck the game for the Bears, thus they have to find a way to keep him under wraps. The outcome of that matchup might determine the game.
Don’t Tell Me the Odds
Las Vegas has installed San Francisco as a 7-point favorite on the road against Chicago. They expect a real defensive slugfest with a very low over/under of 40.5.
I think the Bears defense will play well and limit the young 49ers quarterback but San Francisco’s defense will be just too much for Chicago’s weak O-line. The Niners will take home an ugly 21-9 victory.
Official Bears Preview
Here are Bears analysts Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer with their preview of the Bears’ upcoming Week 1 matchup.