With the first game of the season just a few days away, most Chicago Bears fans are again hoping for a winning season, but not expecting any miracles.
After looking at the various power rankings that have the Bears ranked pretty much where they finished last year (29th, tied for 28th) I thought most of the Sports writers were short-changing the team. The Bears should be ranked higher, at least 24th, maybe even 20th, but I’m guessing the uncertainty of the QB and WR positions (a new starting QB with little experience and both of last year’s best receivers gone – one to another team, the other injured) has sportswriters thinking the Monsters of the Midway won’t be scaring any more teams than they did last year.
Most true Bears fans believe the team was better than its 3 – 13 record last year.
To prove it I offer some simple stats from last year: the Offense, Defense, Passing, and Rushing rankings of the NFL’s 32 teams. I know a lot more goes into a game than Offense, Defense, Passing, and Rushing. There are things such as turnover ratio, third down conversions, third down stops, red zone defense, and field goal accuracy. That’s why a team that should be good sometimes isn’t and a team that shouldn’t be especially good sometimes is.
Nevertheless, looking at the Offense, Defense, Passing, and Rushing ranks tells a bit of a story. The Super Bowl teams were about the best in those categories. The Falcons with an 11-5 record: Offense – 2, Defense – 25, Passing – 3, and running – 5. The Patriots with their 14-2 record O 4, D 8, P 4, and R 7.
The Bears had the both the 15th ranked Offense and Defense, the 14th ranked passing attack, and the team rushing ranked 17th. With the most similar rankings (O 13, D 17, P 15, and R 13), the Bengals finished 6-9-1. So it could be argued the Bears were at least a six win team. However, both the Bears and Bengals might have been better.
Also in the North Division where the Lions who went 9-7 (O 21, D 18, P 11, and R 30). Most shocking of all, though, was Kansas City. The Chiefs finished first in their division with a 12-4 record but ranked worse than the Bears in three of the four categories: O 20, D 24, P 19, and only a little better rushing at 15th.
Looking at those numbers tells me the Bears could have been a playoff team last year. With a team that is at least equal to last year’s (and in some areas, better), they could be a playoff team this year. I’m not betting on it, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Again, though, there’s much more to the game than just the teams overall play on defense, offense, passing and rushing.
Finally, you might be wondering how the two teams that picked ahead of the Bears in the NFL draft did with those four stats last year? The Browns (O 30, D 31, P 28, and R – 19) who picked first were one of the two worst teams. The 49rs who picked second were the other terrible team (O 31, D 32, P 32, and R 4).