Chicago Bears Open 2023 Training Camp With Odds Showing Optimism
After years — many years — of almost exclusively ineptitude, the Chicago Bears finally have some optimism surrounding the team as rookies report to training camp Saturday. Following a 3-14 campaign, they traded away the No. 1 pick to scoop a difference-making receiver (DJ Moore), made a slew of signings, and have a talented young QB on an upward trajectory. With the division on the downswing, could 2023 be the year to bet Chicago Bears odds and actually expect something positive in Bears betting?
Notable Bears Offseason Moves
We’ll start with changes the Bears roster has undergone heading to the 2023 season. Keep in mind that minor moves will still occur. Useful veterans will become available following releases from other teams, and key injuries will crop up both to the Bears and their opponents. But, here’s where things stand as of early July.
- Key additions: WR DJ Moore, G Nate Davis, RT Darnell Wright, QB PJ Walker, EDGE DeMarcus Walker, DT Gervon Dexter Sr., LB TJ Edwards, LB Tremaine Edmunds, CB Tyrique Stevenson
- Key losses: RB David Montgomery, RT Riley Reiff
What will Justin Fields look like as both a passer and a runner this year? That’s the central question, the answer to which will probably drive anything Chicago does, bad or good, in 2023.
On the one hand, what he showed on the ground last year was truly incredible. He flashed gamebreaking speed, ripping off multiple long touchdown runs. Fields as a runner was about as dynamic as anyone we’ve ever seen at the QB position.
On the other hand, Fields has not really progressed as a passer. While he has a pretty strong arm and makes great throws at times, he also commits head-scratching turnovers and struggles to read the field at times. Particularly in must-pass situations at the end of games, Fields had some truly horrid moments.
How much of that was on Fields and how much was on a poor (league worst?) group of pass-catchers and a weak offensive line?
We may be about to find out. The line should be a bit better with the additions of Wright and Davis, though a lack of continuity and the youth at tackles could still spell trouble. TE Cole Kmet and WR Darnell Mooney have built solid chemistry with Fields, and the addition of Moore and Chase Claypool (trade acquisition during 2022 season) pushes the unit closer to league average.
The Bears could make a big leap here if Fields keeps improving and everything comes together.
- More Bears betting from Eli Hershkovich: Are Justin Fields MVP odds justified?
- Follow our staff’s NFL bets all year long in our free sports betting Discord channel.
While the offense could potentially be decent, the defense still looks pretty lacking.
Chicago made a huge push to upgrade at linebacker. Whether the money for Tremaine Edmunds will prove well spent depends on whether 2022 was a career year or a sign that the line has finally come on for the A+ athlete. With Edmunds and TJ Edwards (added on a tremendous value contract), this unit looks far better.
However, the pass rush still looks anemic. And it’s going to be paired with a secondary that can best be described as middling. Eddie Jackson at safety and Jaylon Johnson at corner look like solid starters, but things get dicey in a hurry after that.
In other words, opposing passing offenses will probably feast.
If Chicago has injuries on defense, look out. Most of the backups at every level of this defense are rookies and second-year players drafted in the middle rounds. Young players, even those with talent, usually struggle in the NFL.
Bears Schedule And Odds For Every Game
Early betting markets from DraftKings Sportsbook can give us a look at what to expect for the Bears’ game-to-game chances of victory. These numbers will obviously change massively. But, they’re still a useful tool.
|@ Tampa Bay
|@ Kansas City
|Thursday Night Football
|Extra rest following TNF
|@ LA Chargers
|Sunday Night Football
|@ New Orleans
|Thursday Night Football
|Monday Night Football
|Extra rest following bye
|@ Green Bay
Converting these spreads to moneylines, one comes up with approximately 7.7 projected market wins for the Bears.
That tracks with the market number of , as the majority of the sportsbooks have juiced the over side.
The market must have liked Chicago’s spending spree in the offseason as Bears Super Bowl odds have moved a bit from the +8000 opener to . It’s a bit of a surprise to see the team that “earned” last year’s No. 1 pick not sporting some of the longest odds in the market. But, a mediocre division/conference combined with a large talent infusion has bettors at least somewhat bullish on Chicago.
Bears Key Advanced Stats, Ranks In 2022
|Bears Value (League Rank)
|Special Teams DVOA
|Rush Offense EPA/Play
|Rush Defense EPA/Play
|Pass Offense EPA/Play
|Pass Defense EPA/Play
Possible Offseason Bets On Bears Odds For 2023
The Bears took the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars route of throwing gobs of money at a mixed bag of free agents in hopes of improving a very bad team that still possessed a young QB with upside. For Jacksonville, things worked out well as they improved mightily and won a playoff game.
I’m skeptical the Bears will have a similar success story. I have concerns on both sides of the ball.
Prior to the 2021 NFL draft, I was probably one of the biggest Justin Fields stans. I thought it was insane that he wasn’t considered a slam dunk No. 2 overall pick as I didn’t believe at all in the other QBs besides Trevor Lawrence. Time has justified my pessimism in the other QBs, but not my optimism in Fields quite as much.
The fact he continues to struggle so much in must-pass situations seems like an ill omen for his career. He still seems to freeze up at time and miss basic downfield reads, with these plays too often ending in sacks or interceptions thrown directly into the chest of a defender. I’m not sure when or if that’s going to be fixed, but it seems like a major problem.
And Fields running for 150 yards per week to keep the Bears competitive doesn’t seem sustainable. Look no further than last year, when a hip injury ended his season. I like the PJ Walker signing to improve the backup situation, but PJ Walker is going to have a very tough time leading this team to eight wins if Fields goes down.
And I do think the Bears will find themselves in must-pass situations. Because I don’t see how their defense is going to stop opposing passing games. Who is rushing the passer on this team? When DeMarcus Walker is the headliner, you’re in trouble. A bad pass rush and a mediocre secondary makes for a combustible combination.
Hunting Plus Money In Bears Odds
I’d like to direct your attention to the table above, which shows the Bears’ EPA in pass defense. You can see that they finished last in the NFL, but what’s truly staggering is the margin here. Opponents torched the Bears at a more efficient rate than the Bills, the No. 2 passing offense, managed over the course of the season.
Most teams would not have a good final record if they played the Bills passing offense every week. Unsurprisingly, the Bears allowed more points than anyone last year, and it wasn’t close.
It’s hard to overstate how bad that is, and how big the leap is from there to respectability. Likewise, the leap from 3-14 to a .500 record is massive.
Yet, the market is surprisingly optimistic about the Bears this year. I get that they play in a weak division, but I am on the record as buying low on Packers futures.
Still, because I believe in the talent of Fields, I have to admit there are several worlds where the Bears are a solid team.
Since I think the range of outcomes is pretty wide but potentially includes major downside, that leaves me hunting some longer shot bets than merely under the win total. I’m looking at a couple of plays. Caesars Sportsbook has Bears Under 5.5 wins at +280. DraftKings Sportsbook has fourth-place division finish at +215. I think both are worth a look.
Keep in mind that if Fields struggles or gets hurt early, franchise decision-makers would likely quickly pivot into a tank here as well, with two top QB prospects headlining the next draft.
TheLines Podcast on Bears Futures
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