Chicago Bears 2014 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions

Ross Read@@RossReadContributor IIISeptember 3, 2014

Chicago Bears 2014 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions

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    Brandon Marshall
    Brandon MarshallJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Expectations are running high for a Bears team that has not been to the playoffs since 2010, when they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. 

    The Bears could have another run like that 2010 season in them this year, but the key players on offense need to stay healthy, and the defense must come together. 

    Jay Cutler will be the unquestioned leader this year, as the Bears will continue to put points on the board and win some tough ballgames. 

    There are a few surprises in this game-by-game prediction, but ultimately the Bears will get to 10 wins and a playoff berth. Click ahead to see how it all unfolds, and give us your thoughts in the comments. 

Week 1: Vs. Buffalo Bills

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    E.J. Manuel
    E.J. ManuelBill Wippert/Associated Press

    The season starts at home with the Buffalo Bills. This is a great tuneup game for the Bears to get their offense going and establish some kind of confidence on defense. 

    Buffalo will look to get the run game going against the Bears. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson spearhead a running game that got more than 2,300 yards last season. Even with rookie Sammy Watkins, the Bills know their passing game is anemic. 

    Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel has struggled in the preseason and could get benched in favor of newly acquired veteran Kyle Orton. The Bears will have no problem forcing a few turnovers from Manuel and getting good pressure on him. 

    The front seven is solid from Buffalo even with linebacker Kiko Alonso out, but it won't be enough to slow the Bears offense down. The Bears win this one big, as they seem to do in home openers. 

    Final Score: Bears 27, Bills 10

    Overall Record: 1-0

Week 2: At San Francisco 49ers

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    Colin Kaepernick
    Colin KaepernickDavid Seelig/Associated Press

    The scene shifts to the opening of Levi's Stadium in prime time on Sunday night. If the Bears were ever looking to play the San Francisco 49ers, it's better to get them early. 

    It's been a preseason marred with struggles on offense and off-field issues for the 49ers. Linebacker Aldon Smith is out, linebacker Navarro Bowman is hurt and defensive end Ray McDonald could miss time after a recent arrest. 

    Even with those issues on defense, it's the offense the 49ers need to be concerned about. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his first team offense failed to get into the end zone all preseason. 

    There will be a ton of energy in the air, as the hometown fans will look to open the new stadium with a win, but the Bears can weather the tide and pull out a tough win on the road. 

    Jay Cutler has played well of late on Sunday nights, and the Bears can move the football against this depleted defense. This might be a different outcome if it were Week 14, but the Bears catch an early break. 

    Look for a late Robbie Gould field goal and a heavy dose of Matt Forte on the newly re-sodded turf for the surprising win. 

    Final Score: Bears 16, 49ers 13

    Overall Record: 2-0

Week 3: At New York Jets

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    Chris Johnson
    Chris JohnsonUSA TODAY Sports

    Coming off an emotional win in San Francisco, the Bears get an extra day off before visiting the Jets on Monday night. 

    On paper, the Bears should win this football game, but this has trap written all over it. Rex Ryan will have his team playing inspired football, and Chris Johnson could see a resurgence in a Jets uniform. 

    The Jets defense is young and tough. They will frustrate Jay Cutler and apply pressure throughout the game. Johnson can take advantage of a weak second level of the Bears defense and bust a few long runs. 

    For as mediocre as the Jets and their quarterback Geno Smith appear, this team still won eight games last seasonthe same as the Bears. 

    It's tough to pull out two big wins in a row on the big stage, and the Bears get their first loss here. The Bears get caught peeking ahead one week to the Packers and lose a tough one against the Jets.

    Final Score: Jets 24, Bears 20

    Overall Record: 2-1

Week 4: Vs. Green Bay Packers

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    Aaron Rodgers
    Aaron RodgersUSA TODAY Sports

    Week 4 is Packers week, and the Bears need to get the bad taste of last season out of their mouth. 

    Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Julius Peppers are all front and center on the bulletin board, and the Bears know they need this game to prove they are the new NFC North team to beat. 

    Last year, Jay Cutler outplayed Rodgers in the final game of the regular season. Expect more of the same. Cutler and the offensive line will rebound from a loss against the Jets and come out better prepared to handle the rush. 

    The Packers are still very shaky on defense without defensive tackle B.J. Raji and a soft secondary. They won't be able to matchup with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and each receiver gets a touchdown in this one. 

    The Bears defense will do just enough to get by and even get Rodgers to the ground. Rodgers will get the ball in his hands again at the end to win it but will come up short this time. 

    Final Score: Bears 31, Packers 27

    Overall Record: 3-1

Week 5: At Carolina Panthers

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    Cam Newton
    Cam NewtonStephan Savoia/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers were the darlings of the NFC last year, winning 12 games, but expect them to take a major step back this year. 

    The Panthers have a weak wide receiver core, questionable offensive line and a quarterback who's banged up already. 

    It might be a long season for Cam Newton, who will likely get frustrated with what's around him. Carolina's defense is still good but not good enough to hold the Bears under 10 points, which is what it will take to win this one. 

    The win won't be pretty, but the Bears will get the job done behind a balanced attack on offense. The defense will get all the praise here, keeping Newton and the Panthers offense down the entire game. 

    Final Score: Bears 23, Panthers 6

    Overall Record: 4-1

Week 6: At Atlanta Falcons

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    Matt Ryan
    Matt RyanPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    If any team in the NFL can claim to have a receiver duo close to what the Bears feature, it's the Atlanta Falcons

    Roddy White and Julio Jones are a talented handful when healthy, and Matt Ryan is a surgeon at getting them the football. 

    This has shootout written all over it in the dome. Both defenses are average, and both offenses have a ton of weapons. This will come down to one area, and sadly the Bears are deficient on special teams. 

    The revenge of Devin Hester comes into play, as he will be a major factor in the game. Look for Hester to make a big return or twohe might even catch a touchdown pass out of the slot. 

    Final Score: Falcons 26, Bears 20

    Overall Record: 4-2

Week 7: Vs. Miami Dolphins

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    Ryan Tannehill
    Ryan TannehillWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Dolphins are an interesting team. They have an emerging quarterback and some fun weapons on offense, but are they good enough to beat the Bears in Chicago? 

    Lucky for Miami, it won't be too cold yet in this mid-October game, but the environment will still be too hostile for an up-and-coming team to handle. 

    Coming off the loss in Atlanta, the Bears will come out focused and firing on all cylinders against the Dolphins. This one will turn into a blowout before the start of the fourth quarter.

    It will just be way too much Cutler spreading the ball around and a huge all-around game from Matt Forte for the Dolphins to handle. 

    Final Score: Bears 38, Dolphins 16

    Overall Record: 5-2

Week 8: At New England Patriots

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    Tom Brady
    Tom BradyJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    This could be the last time the Bears get to play future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. He will welcome the Bears into his house and make it a game they won't forget. 

    The Bears have a balanced enough attack to put points on the board, but can the defense slow down Brady's methodical offense? 

    Take a good look at Patriots pass-rusher Chandler Jones in this game. He's the guy the Bears should have drafted instead of Shea McClellin, and he's good for a sack and possibly a forced fumble in this game.  

    Jay Cutler will keep his team in the game for quite some time, but The Golden Boy has one of his signature late comebacks in him.

    The Bears will have a hard time slowing down running back Shane Vereen catching passes out of the backfield, and it will ultimately do them in at the end. 

    Final Score: Patriots 26, Bears 24

    Overall Record: 5-3

Week 10: At Green Bay Packers

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    Eddie Lacy
    Eddie LacyMike Roemer/Associated Press

    A loss against the Patriots will be a tough pill to swallow over the bye week, but the Bears will have to shift their focus back to the Green Bay Packers. 

    The Packers are looking for revenge and to keep pace in a very competitive NFC North. At this point in the year, the Bears, Packers and Lions will all be in the thick of things within the division. 

    Beating Green Bay twice in one year is very toughdon't expect it to happen this year. While Aaron Rodgers will be solid as usual, this game will be won on the back of Eddie Lacy

    Lacy will have a few touchdowns and rush for more than 100 yards as the Bears lose their second straight game. 

    Final Score: Packers 31, Bears 23

    Overall Record: 5-4

Week 11: Vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    Teddy Bridgewater
    Teddy BridgewaterMark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater might start the season on the bench, but by the time the Bears see him in November, he could be in for a struggling Matt Cassel. 

    New head coach Mike Zimmer is going to go through some growing pains in his first year, and this game will be no different. Yes, Adrian Peterson is still with the Vikings, but he just won't be enough to carry an inconsistent offense. 

    The Bears know they have to win every game possible in the division, and there's no excuse for losing to the Vikings at home.

    The losing streak stops here, and the Bears get a win behind a balanced attack on offense and defense. 

    Final Score: Bears 34, Vikings 9

    Overall Record: 6-4

Week 12: Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Lovie Smith
    Lovie SmithSTEVE NESIUS/Associated Press

    How do you think former Bears coach Lovie Smith will be received at Soldier Field? He will likely get his fair share of cheers and some boos, but the crowd will certainly give some love to quarterback Josh McCown.

    McCown had better cherish the love he gets before the game, because it won't be pretty once the game gets going. A spirited pass rush led by Jared Allen will have McCown running and forcing the football.

    Allen and the defense won't be the only ones looking to prove something. Jay Cutler wants to show the world he's the right quarterback in Chicago and make everybody forget about McCown.

    Wouldn't it be some kind of story to watch Cutler throw for four touchdowns against McCown and his former defensive-minded head coach? The Bears win this one fairly big.

    Final Score: Bears 35, Bucs 14 

    Overall Record: 7-4

Week 13: At Detroit Lions

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    Calvin Johnson
    Calvin JohnsonRick Osentoski/Associated Press

    It's a quick turnaround for the Bears, who travel to face the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

    The win against the Bucs might have come easy, but this is still an older Bears team who won't look sharp on short rest and an early Thursday start. 

    When you play Calvin Johnson and the Lions, you need all the energy you can get, and unfortunately the Bears just won't have enough to win this track meet. 

    You can put this one on the defense. It will be too much Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate and Joique Bell. 

    The offense will do what they can but come up short in the end. 

    Final Score: Lions 34, Bears 26

    Overall Record: 7-5

Week 14: Vs. Dallas Cowboys

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    Tony Romo
    Tony RomoBrandon Wade/Associated Press

    It's December, which means the Dallas Cowboys will be in the midst of their annual collapse.

    This is usually the time of the year Tony Romo goes through some adversity and has to answer the usual questions of whether he's the answer for Dallas. 

    Romo will actually play well in this game. He will keep his team in it going into the fourth quarter, but Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will have a brain cramp, allowing the Bears to take advantage. 

    A bad challenge, mismanaged timeout or bad play call will seal a Bears victory. Skip Bayless is going to have fun talking about this one the next day. 

    Final Score: Bears 33, Cowboys 27

    Overall Record: 8-5

Week 15: Vs. New Orleans Saints

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    Jimmy Graham
    Jimmy GrahamBill Haber/Associated Press

    This is a big game for the Bears. They can put some distance between themselves and the Packers in the division and go along way toward securing a playoff berth. 

    With everything on the line, the Bears will lay an egg against the New Orleans Saints. The Bears just don't have enough defensive firepower to keep up with tight end Jimmy Graham

    Last year, Graham torched the Bears with 10 receptions for 135 yards. He didn't score a touchdown in that game, but he will make up for it here with two.

    It will be a successful but expensive week for Graham, as he will go for two touchdown-dunk celebrations in Solider Field. Graham gets a big fine but the Saints get the win.

    Final Score: Saints 30, Bears 16 

    Overall Record: 8-6

Week 16: Vs. Detroit Lions

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    Matthew Stafford
    Matthew StaffordRick Osentoski/Associated Press

    The Bears need a win late in the season, and they need to avenge their earlier loss against the Lions. 

    Matthew Stafford is a talented quarterback, but he's good for a few meltdowns in a season.

    By this point, the Lions are clinging to their playoff hopes, and Stafford will feel the need to force the ball to try to keep pace with Jay Cutler and the Bears offense. 

    You will see a wiser and poised Cutler this late in the year, and he will outsmart fellow gunslinger Stafford. Three interceptions are in store for Stafford, and one is a costly pick-six. 

    Final Score: Bears 29, Lions 20

    Overall Record: 9-6

Week 17: At Minnesota Vikings

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    Adrian Peterson
    Adrian PetersonMark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The last game of the year in Minnesota will be cold and downright dangerous. 

    The Vikings won't be playing for anything by this point, and the Bears are going to want to make quick work on the road outdoors in TCF Bank Stadium. 

    Jay Cutler and the offense will start this one but will make quick work of a reeling Vikings team with one foot out the door to go ice fishing.

    Adrian Peterson will show his frustration as he goes through another losing season. Will this be the last time he plays for the Vikings? Will he force a trade? 

    Bears win big and rest their starters in preparation for a playoff berth. 

    Final Score: Bears 30, Vikings 6

    Final Overall Record: 10-6