By Sean Sarcu @seansarcu on June 10, 2014
The 2013 season was a strange one for the Chicago Bears. For the first time in years, a great offense constantly picked up the team's dreadful defense, a complete reversal of the typical situation that has kept the Bears mired in relative mediocrity for much of the last several decades. Some offseason additions, however, hold major promise leading into the 2014 NFL season. Here are 5 Bears predictions for the upcoming year.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery worked out with Marquess Wilson during the offseason, and both have been raving about Wilson's progress. He has added some bulk, now up to 207-pounds after being well below 200 last season. With Earl Bennett gone, Wilson is the favorite to nab the third receiver spot, and he should see plenty of looks in what will be a very imposing Bears offense. 500 yards receiving seems about right.
Lamarr Houston was one of the NFL's best at pressuring the quarterback last season while with the Oakland Raiders. His numbers didn't translate into sacks, but Houston was dominant for long stretches. He will face far less double teams on a Bears team with Jared Allen than he did with the anemic Raiders, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him with double digits in sacks at the end of the year.
Matt Forte flourished last season in his first year under coach Marc Trestman's new offense, putting up 1,933 yards from scrimmage and the best rushing numbers of his career. Forte is one of the most underrated backs in football, and he's in a system almost perfectly tailored to his talents. It isn't hard to see something like 1,450 yards on the ground and 700 through the air for him in 2014.
The Bears' defense in 2013 was an abject embarrassment and was historically bad against the run. Phil Emery addressed this directly in free agency, signing one of the league's best defensive ends against the rush (Houston) among several others. A healthy Charles Tillman in the secondary should also prove helpful. While the defense will not be a strength, they could climb towards the top half of the league in DVOA if the new personnel mesh well.
Jay Cutler's talent level has always been obvious, and this could be the season where he finally puts it together. He was brilliant at times in 2013, but a flukey injury effectively ruined his season. With a solid, improving offensive line in front of him and a wide array of offensive weapons to choose from, Cutler is in a perfect position to avoid injury and have the best season of his career to date.
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