It's incredible what an 8-8 season can do to a team's short-term outlook. The Chicago Bears are proof of this. It feels like an eternity ago that Matt Nagy's 2018 Bears went 12-4, won the NFC North, and had an ascending quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, who some analysts considered a darkhorse in the 2019 MVP race.
But then came that 8-8 record last year. Trubisky and the Bears offense failed Nagy's Level 202 course, and with that 'F' came questions about whether this team was more pretender than contender. It's become abundantly clear this offseason (and now into training camp) that the national opinion of this squad is predominantly in the pretender bucket.
NFL.com's recent breakdown of the Bears' 2020 outlook, which included the ceiling and floor for their season, doesn't pick a side. You can check out the complete video here.
The best we can expect from the Bears this year, per NFL.com? 11 wins. The worst-case scenario? Four wins.
Essentially, the Bears will either be really, really good or really, really bad.
This makes sense, doesn't it? We're entering Year 3 of the Nagy era after an undefined first two seasons on the job; 2018 was awesome. 2019 was forgettable. It feels like it will be boom or bust in 2020.
If we just focus on the NFC North, it's clear the Bears are a legitimate threat to win the division. The Packers are a mess, the Vikings are headed for regression and the Lions, despite massive under-the-radar improvement this offseason, are still the Lions.
Green Bay is in the midst of a cold war between Aaron Rodgers and the coaching staff. Minnesota lost their offensive coordinator and best deep-ball target, both of whom were critical to Kirk Cousins' career year. And as long as Matt Patricia is Detroit's head coach, they'll never be taken seriously.
So, here we are. The Bears will either be the division champs or the NFC North doormat. There'll be no in-between, and that's exactly how Bears fans should want it.
Let's be honest: if Chicago isn't going to have a year overflowing with wins and a potential division championship (which is the preferred outcome of course), it's best for the season to implode and give the organization a better chance at a reboot. That opportunity comes via the NFL Draft and a high first-round pick, where Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields profile as franchise-changing quarterback prospects.
Still, it's hard imagining a defense as loaded as Chicago's and an offense with a quarterback like Nick Foles (assuming he ends up being the team's starter at some point) winning fewer than 10 games. It'll be enough to get back to the playoffs and have the arrow pointing up for the franchise again.
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NFL.com sets Bears' best and worst-case scenarios for 2020 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago