The Chicago Bears have a brutal three-game stretch -- Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle -- to begin the year. That hasn't changed. But much has since my original 7-9 prediction posted in April. Over the past four-plus months, the Bears released defensive end Ray McDonald, placed first-round pick Kevin White on the physically unable to perform list and suffered a rash of preseason injuries.
Expect the Bears to overachieve under head coach John Fox, but 7-9 might be pushing it. The Bears resemble a six-win team as opening weekend approaches.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, Green Bay, 1 p.m. ET
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Arizona, 1 p.m. ET
Arizona is the better team on paper. But the NFL is funny. Expect the Bears to win a couple of games they have no business winning. This is one of them. Score: Bears 27, Cardinals 26. Record: 1-1.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. ET
The Seahawks will give the Bears a dose of reality. Seattle is the toughest road venue in the league. Score: Seahawks 34, Bears 17. Record: 1-2.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, Oakland, 1 p.m. ET
Oakland is exactly the kind of team Cutler lights up. Vic Fangio's defense should be stable enough to contain the Raiders' offense. Score: Bears 30, Raiders 20. Record: 2-2.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Kansas City, 1 p.m. ET
Kansas City is a playoff contender in the AFC. The Bears' first trip to Arrowhead Stadium in 12 years ends in a close loss. Score: Chiefs 27, Bears 24. Record: 2-3.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Detroit, 1 p.m. ET
The Bears don't win at Ford Field in the rare years the Lions are good. Detroit still has plenty of talent coming off an 11-5 season. Score: Lions 34, Bears 20. Record: 2-4.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
The Vikings are one of the NFL's most improved clubs. The Bears are not. Smart money now says that Minnesota sweeps the season series. Score: Vikings 28, Bears 21. Record: 2-5.
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 9, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m. ET
Surprise. Bears win at San Diego despite being massive underdogs. Cutler and Philip Rivers rekindle their old feud. Are the Bears back in the hunt? Score: Bears 30, San Diego 28. Record: 3-5.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at St. Louis, 1 p.m. ET
No, the Bears are not back in the hunt. The Rams' defense almost pitches a shutout. The probability of another Kyle Long fight inside the Edward Jones Dome is strong. Score: Rams 28, Bears 6. Record: 3-6.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, Denver, 1 p.m. ET
Hey, Peyton Manning can still sling the football. That's unfortunate for the Bears. John Fox will have to wait for his revenge. Score: Broncos 40, Bears 30. Record: 3-7.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. ET
Brett Favre is getting his number retired on Thanksgiving? Uh, oh. Is Rodgers the quarterback for Green Bay? Uh, oh. Score: Packers 40, Bears 10. Record: 3-8.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, San Francisco, 1 p.m. ET
Fangio knows all of San Francisco's deepest, darkest secrets. Plus, who’s left on the 49ers' roster? Score: Bears 28, 49ers 16. Record: 4-8.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, Washington, 1 p.m. ET
Cutler is better than Robert Griffin III. You think the Bears have problems? Yikes. Check out the Redskins. Score: Bears 30, Redskins 7. Record: 5-8.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
Minnesota is playing for the wild card. The Bears are playing for another top-10 pick. Score: Vikings 30, Bears 7. Record: 5-9.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. ET
Take that, Lovie Smith. The Bears play loose and free and batter Jameis Winston or Mike Glennon, whoever is under center for the Bucs. By this point it won't matter. Score: Bears 27, Bucs 14. Record: 6-9.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, Detroit, 1 p.m. ET
Brighter days are ahead. The Bears fight hard, but Detroit has too much talent at wide receiver. Kind of like the Bears used to have, you know, back in July. Score: Lions 21, Bears 20. Record: 6-10.