Game-by-game predictions: Chicago Bears

Bears coach John Fox’s trademark phrase is “understate and overproduce.” Expect Chicago to improve, but a tricky opening three weeks of the schedule against Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle does not look promising for a club in rebuild mode after a horrible 5-11 effort in 2014. Still, we see an improvement to 7-9 in 2015. (All times Eastern.)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, Green Bay, 1 p.m.

The Bears draw the unlucky assignment of hosting the reigning NFC North champs in Week 1. Aaron Rodgers is 12-3 lifetime against the Bears. Jay Cutler is 1-11 versus the Pack. What else needs to be said? Packers 24, Bears 17. Record 0-1

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Arizona, 1 p.m.

Surprise. Bears squeak out a victory against a feisty Cardinals team led by enigmatic coach Bruce Arians. Chicago fans no longer scorn the day former general manager Phil Emery hired Marc Trestman over Arians. Bears 27, Cardinals 26. Record 1-1

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at Seattle 4:25 p.m.

Seattle is the toughest road venue in the NFL. Too much too soon for the rebuilding Bears. Seahawks 34, Bears 17. Record 1-2.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, Oakland, 1 p.m.

Bears pound the NFL’s perennial doormat. Closing out the first quarter of the season at .500 gives the Bears faithful reason to celebrate. Bears 30, Raiders 10. Record 2-2

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

The Bears' first trip to Arrowhead since 2003 ends in a close defeat. Don’t be surprised if a Dave Toub trick on special teams seals the victory for KC. Chiefs 21, Bears 20. Record 2-3.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Ford Field has been unkind to the Bears lately. The Lions figure to once again be competitive in the NFC North after going 11-5 in Jim Caldwell’s first year. Lions 34, Bears 20. Record 2-4

Week 7: Bye Week – Record 2-4

Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Minnesota is on the rise, but Chicago finds a way to save its season. A split of the season series seems like a probable scenario. Bears 21, Vikings 17. Record 3-4

Week 9: Monday, Nov. 9, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m.

The Bears’ lone appearance on Monday Night Football ends in a surprise victory. The Chargers don’t seem as formidable with their quarterback situation in flux. Bears 30, San Diego 27. Record 4-4

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Letdown city. Bears fall victim to the old trap game and get caught looking ahead to Denver and Green Bay. Rams 28, Bears 19. Record 4-5

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, Denver, 1 p.m.

Bears can’t keep pace with Denver in a rematch game for John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning proves there is still magic left in that arm. Broncos 40, Bears 30. Record 4-6

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.

Nothing good ever happens when Brett Favre is in the stadium. Favre’s number-retirement ceremony gives Thanksgiving night some extra juice, as if the Packers needed it. Packers 35, Bears 10. Record 4-7

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, San Francisco, 1 p.m.

These aren’t Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio knows all of Colin Kaepernick’s secrets. Bears 28, 49ers 16. Record 5-7

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, Washington, 1 p.m.

You think Chicago’s quarterback situation is a mess? Wait until the Redskins come to Soldier Field. Bears 30, Redskins 7. Record 6-7

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Minnesota. 1 p.m.

Teddy Bridgewater avenges the earlier loss. Bad stuff tends to happen whenever the Bears are in Minnesota. Vikings 25, Bears 21. Record 6-8

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Doesn’t matter if Jameis Winston or Josh McCown is the quarterback -- the Bucs aren’t expected to be very good. Lovie Smith falls to 0-2 vs. his old team. Bears 27, Bucs 14. Record 7-8

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, Detroit, 1 p.m.

In a game filled with playoff implications of the Lions, the Bears are worn down in the fourth quarter. But the arrow is pointing up heading into 2016. Lions 17, Bears 13. Record 7-9