Take 2: Will the Bears win more or less than 7.5 games in 2021?

The wise guys in Las Vegas are telling us the over/under total on Chicago Bears wins this season is 7 ½. Let’s find out what our very own Hub Arkush and Sean Hammond think, if you’re of a mind to make a wager here or there, should you take the over or the under?

ARKUSH: Sean, the only advice anyone will ever get from me on betting is don’t. I never do simply because I’ve always hated the losing so much more than I enjoy the winning.

But as long as my money isn’t on the line, I do have a studied opinion and it says 7 ½ may be exactly the right number, but forced to choose I’d have to take the over.

I know how difficult the Bears’ schedule looks, but it never looks the same by the third or fourth week of the season.

I don’t see how anyone can make these calls predicting injuries or good health, so I think you have to assume injuries won’t dictate their season, and I see too much talent on this team for it to finish three games or more under .500.

What say you?

HAMMOND: I agree that predicting a season is a next-to-impossible task. There are simply too many variables. Then there’s always teams we expect to be good that aren’t, and other teams that come out of nowhere. That being said, on paper the Bears’ schedule is among the toughest in the NFL.

But forget the schedule for a minute. My argument isn’t even about the schedule. I have too many questions about this Bears team to expect anything more than seven wins. The tackle positions are going to be a problem. I’m not sold on Germain Ifedi and Jason Peters being good enough. Then there’s the quarterback. While Andy Dalton might be a decent enough game manager, he’s not going to elevate this offense. It’s hard to see the offense being significantly better than it was a year ago. And what did this defense do to improve over the offseason? Cutting Kyle Fuller wasn’t it.

ARKUSH: OK young Jedi, here’s my counterpoint.

Certainly the tackle spots could be a problem, but with a future Hall of Famer on the left side and a guy on the right who played well there the last third of last season, you can’t say with any certainty what they’re going to be, and how much worse can they be than the Charles Leno and Bobby Massie show, in which they still won eight games last year?

Even more, Dalton isn’t expected to elevate the offense, that’s up to David Montgomery, the Olympic sprinter team they built at wide receiver and the over-crowded tight ends room.

All Dalton has to do is not trash it, and with a defense that could be one of the league’s best, if healthy, eight or nine wins just doesn’t seem like a lot.

The closing argument is yours.

HAMMOND: Eight or nine wins is certainly attainable. I just see few gimmes on this schedule. The Bears should beat the Lions twice. They should be the favorites against the Bengals and Giants. After that, every game I see they’re either an underdog or it’s a tossup.

As for your Dalton point, the quarterback absolutely should elevate the offense. The Bears went into the offseason looking for ways to improve quarterback play. This is their answer. If the quarterback can’t elevate the offense, then it’s going to be more of the same in 2021.

I hope, for the Bears’ sake, that Montgomery and the run game can elevate the offense. But we simply haven’t seen that over the course of an entire season in the Matt Nagy era. The Bears finished 11th in rushing in 2018, but that was with a quarterback who ran for more than 400 yards. Dalton isn’t doing that. Justin Fields would change that equation, if Nagy ever lets him on the field.

We’ll know a lot more after Week 1, but as I see it now, I can’t pick this Bears team to win more than seven games.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media