2018 win total: 6.5

2017 ATS record: 8-6-2

Optimist view

Everyone who matters returns from a defense that enters its fourth season under mastermind Vic Fangio and was No. 10 in yards and No. 9 in points allowed last season. The majority of the top 15 players on defense are 26 or younger, so this group could just be scratching the surface of its collective potential.

The offensive staff has been nearly completely revamped, starting with bright, energetic head coach Matt Nagy, who will run his version of the West Coast offense learned from eight years as an Andy Reid assistant. Much of the offseason was devoted to adding the experienced, talented skill-position players that the Bears have lacked, including WRs Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, along with TE Trey Burton. Mitch Trubisky got enough seasoning in 2017 during 12 starts as a rookie that he’s comfortable in the role of franchise quarterback, even though he’s learning a new offense.

Pessimist view:

Trubisky will be operating in his third different offense in as many years, going back to his final season at North Carolina. Among Trubisky’s top receivers are five whom he has never thrown a pass to in an NFL game – Robinson, Gabriel, Burton, WR Kevin White and rookie WR Anthony Miller. There is uncertainty on the offensive line because of the questionable health of former Pro Bowl OG Kyle Long, and because rookie James Daniels may have to start at the other OG spot after spending most of his Iowa Hawkeye days as a center.

Though the defense was impressive in most statistical categories, it lacks an impact player, with the exception of massive DL Akiem Hicks. Aside from Hicks, no one on the defense has more than OLB Leonard Floyd’s 11.5 sacks in the previous two seasons combined. The lack of big plays is even more concerning in the secondary, where the Bears have had a franchise-worst eight interceptions in each of the last three seasons.

On schedule:

After a Sept. 23 game at Arizona against the Cardinals, the Bears play just two road games in two months before a Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions in Detroit on Nov. 22. In between are five home games and a Week Five bye. That home stretch includes games against the Bucs and Jets, both of whom were 5-11 last year, but there are also games vs. the Patriots and Vikings, who both went 13-3.

Four of the final six games are on the road, sandwiched around back-to-back home games with the Packers and Rams.

Prediction: Over.

The Bears haven’t won more than six games since 2013, when they went 8-8 in the first of Marc Trestman’s two seasons as head coach. That followed Lovie Smith’s final three seasons (2010-12), during which the Bears went 29-19, but it wasn’t enough for Smith to keep his job.

The new offense will be a work in progress through the early part of the season, and Trubisky is likely to experience some growing pains along the way. But the defense should hit the ground running and, with a few more big plays, could carry the team until the offense gets up to speed. Still, the Bears will have a struggle to escape the NFC North cellar, where they have resided for the past four seasons. The Vikings are primed for a Super Bowl run, a healthy Aaron Rodgers makes the Packers a playoff team, and the Lions have defeated the Bears in nine of their last 10 meetings.

Previous projected win total breakdowns

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers