6 Bears predictions for 2023 NFL season
6 bold predictions for Bears in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
We’ve got a week off between the AFC and NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl, so let’s take the time to dream about the 2023 season. The Bears wrapped up 2022 with a league-worst 3-14, and yet hope springs eternal in Chicago. That’s largely because it finally looks like the team has a legit franchise QB and Ryan Poles has endless opportunities to improve the roster with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. It’s still way too early to tell how things will shake out when the regular season begins again, but let’s have some fun before the Big Game with some predictions for 2023.
ROOKIE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN WILL HAVE 8.5 SACKS
The Bears had the feeblest pass rush in the NFL last year with only 20 sacks. Of those, only 10.5 came from the defensive line. It’s a pitiful number considering 18 players had at least 10.5 sacks by themselves. But the Bears will get a big boost up front in the draft, whether it’s Will Anderson, Jalen Carter, Myles Murphy, Byran Bresee or someone else. Whoever the Bears draft, they’ll make an instant impact.
DARNELL MOONEY WILL BE NO. 1 WIDE RECEIVER
There’s been lots of talk about the Bears adding more pass-catching playmakers to help Justin Fields and the offense, but the reality is bringing in an elite WR is easier said than done. This year’s draft class isn’t as stacked as it has been recently. Trading for a proven receiver will require serious draft capital, and the Bears need to use those to fill out their roster. So the team will likely roll into the year with Chase Claypool, Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr. another rookie or two, and a mid-level free agent or two. In that scenario, Mooney will emerge as the top pass catcher since he’ll have another year in Luke Getsy’s system, and defenses won’t be able to hyper focus on him like they did early in 2022.
EDDIE JACKSON WILL HAVE FOUR INTERCEPTIONS, AGAIN
Jackson had his best season in years under Matt Eberflus, Alan Williams and Andre Curtis’ tutelage. It wasn’t a fluke either. This defense puts Jackson in position to play to his strengths and he will replicate his 2022 success. Jackson’s season ended early due to a Lisfranc injury, but he didn’t require surgery. That’s typically a sign of a more minor injury, and a better recovery outlook.
KYLER GORDON WILL LEAD TEAM IN TAKEAWAYS
Even though Jackson will rack up interceptions in the back end of the secondary, it will with Gordon who has more takeaways overall. After a shaky start to his rookie campaign, Gordon finished strong with two interceptions and one fumble recovery over his final three games. Add in another interception and a forced fumble from earlier in the year, and Gordon ended up second on the team with five takeaways. He’ll build on that during a breakout sophomore season.
BEARS RUN IT BACK WITH DAVID MONTGOMERY, KHALIL HERBERT
Montgomery wants to sign a new deal with the Bears, and the Bears want Montgomery back, too. That was the story with Roquan Smith, but Poles will have better luck finding common ground with Montgomery’s camp given the sheer amount of top shelf running back talent on the free agent market this offseason. However, there will be a change in next year’s rushing attack. Herbert will take over as the team’s first and second down back given his explosive ability in Getsy’s zone run scheme. Montgomery will take over on third down and in short-yardage situations due to his pass catching and pass blocking skills, and his more bruising run style.
SUPER SPICY SPECIAL: BEARS WILL BE IN PLAYOFF PICTURE ALL SEASON
Zero to hero turnarounds don’t happen often in the NFL, but they do happen. Recent examples include the Bengals, who went from 4-11-1 in 2020 to a Super Bowl berth in 2021 and another AFC Championship appearance in 2022, and the Jaguars, who went from 3-14 in 2021 to division champs in 2022. The key is having the right quarterback in place, and the Bears seem to have that in Fields. If Fields can continue to develop in Getsy’s offense, and the defense improves with the expected influx of talent, the Bears can start turning close losses into clutch wins.
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