It’s been a while since the Chicago Bears have had a perceived edge at quarterback over the Green Bay Packers, but that wasn’t lost on the Vegas oddsmakers.
Indeed, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that the Bears opened as 3-point favorites for their Week 10 matchup against the Packers – a position they haven’t held over Green Bay since December 22, 2008.
But these odds aren’t just rare for Bears v. Packers. This actually mark the first time the Bears were listed as Vegas favorites (against anyone) since Week 9 of the 2016 season and is just the sixth time they’ve been projected on top since 2015. Put another way: Chicago has been an underdog in 33 of the team’s last 40 games, which includes one “Pick ’em” against the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. Wow. Just wow.
And further, a win against Green Bay could act as a springboard for a surprisingly successful second half.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus writes that the Bears, whose hardest part of the schedule is in the past, could be one of the surprise teams down the stretch. More specifically, PFF is projecting a .500 finish to the season (4-4), which would obviously be quite a surprise given where things stood at the beginning of the year. To finish this strongly, of course, Chicago would need to continue riding a red-hot defense, leaning on a reliable running game, and hoping Mitch Trubisky takes a (mostly) turnover-free path the rest of the way.
Obviously, Trubisky’s development remains the No. 1 priority for the Bears in the second half, but he’s not the only player looking to make strides after the bye.
Running back Tarik Cohen and tight end Adam Shaheen are rookie draft picks who will play important roles in the second half, too. Cohen should have his eyes on improving as a return specialist and as a rusher, while also maintaining his excellence as a pass catcher. While Shaheen should be in line for increased in playing time, where he can hopefully find the field for some passing snaps with Zach Miller sidelined for the rest of the season.
And even then, there are a million questions to answer.
Can second-year center Cody Whitehair recapture his rookie year form? Will Kyle Long and Josh Sitton stay healthy enough to protect Trubisky and lead the rushing attack? Can any receiver run a route that creates separation and haul in a pass down the field to move the chains? Will the defense keep up their strong play? Can Leonard Floyd keep up his recent pace? Etc.
These are all things that’ll be answered in one way or another over the team’s final eight games. But it all starts this Sunday against the Packers, where the Bears looks ready, finally, to come out on top.