Chicago Bears 2020 season preview: Elite defense will only carry them so far

Schefter hearing Bears dodged major issue with Montgomery (0:41)

Adam Schefter reports that the Bears don't believe the groin injury David Montgomery suffered in practice is a serious one. (0:41)

The Chicago Bears are ranked No. 21 in ESPN's Football Power Index ahead of the 2020 NFL season. With no preseason games this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Week 1 is the first time we'll see new acquisitions and rookies for every team. Week 1 will also give us the first NFL games since Super Bowl LIV in February.

Here's everything you need to know about the Bears heading into the season, from the big question to answer and the toughest stretch on their schedule to a bold prediction and potential breakout fantasy football stars.

Full schedule | Roster | Depth chart

The big question: Can the offense function properly?

The Bears worked hard in the offseason to retool head coach Matt Nagy's offense, but the same questions exist? Can Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles be the answer at quarterback? Will Nagy establish any sort of running game, especially after starter David Montgomery suffered a groin injury in training camp? Will the handsomely paid offensive line improve? Believe it or not, the position group that has looked the best in camp are the tight ends -- the group that struggled the most for Chicago last year. -- Jeff Dickerson

How the pandemic has most affected the Bears

The Bears conducted business as usual in free agency, signing a slew of veterans (tight end Jimmy Graham, outside linebacker Robert Quinn, safety Tashaun Gipson) to fairly lucrative deals. Chicago had just two players opt out because of COVID-19: nose tackle Eddie Goldman and safety Jordan Lucas. Lucas wasn't guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster, but Goldman was a cornerstone of the Bears' defensive line and a serious loss for Chicago's highly rated defense. -- Dickerson

Football Power Index projections for the Bears

Overall ranking: 21
Offensive ranking: 27
Defensive ranking: 7
Special teams ranking: 27

Total wins: 7.8
NFC North title chances: 21.7%
Chances to make playoffs: 36.7%
Super Bowl chances: 0.9%
2021 draft pick: No. 14

Inside the Bears' schedule

FPI's strength of schedule rank: 30

Toughest stretch: Chicago opens November with three consecutive tough games versus New Orleans (home), Tennessee (away) and Minnesota (home), then ends the month at Green Bay. Last season, the Bears went winless in November, and it essentially sunk their season. Chicago is hoping to avoid a similar fate. -- Dickerson

Over or under 7.8 wins? Under. The Bears have a championship defense, but they are suspect on offense. There aren't many great teams that enter training camp without a named starting quarterback. And the kicking game is in question again after Eddy Pineiro injured his groin. Too many red flags. -- Dickerson

Bold prediction for 2020: Jimmy Graham will catch 80 passes for more than 1,000 yards

This is supposed to be bold, right? Graham appeared finished last season in Green Bay, but the former All-Pro looked born-again in Bears camp. Most importantly, Graham still appears to be a lethal threat in the red zone. And for those who claim Graham can no longer run, the Bears only need him to run 10 yards and box out a defender to win contested catches. Graham also is surrounded by a talented group of tight ends, including rookie Cole Kmet and Demetrius Harris. I smell a comeback. -- Dickerson

Breakout fantasy star: David Montgomery, RB

Montgomery certainly had the volume needed for a rookie-season breakout (267 touches), but the 2019 third-round pick didn't have the production to go with it. Montgomery struggled to a 3.7 YPC (1.6 YAC) and managed just 185 yards on 37 targets. The good news is Chicago failed to add any competition to the backfield during the offseason, opening the door for Montgomery and Tarik Cohen to dominate the backfield touches. Montgomery entered the league with the profile of a future impact back, so he is certainly an intriguing post-hype target. -- Mike Clay

ADP for the top players:

The view from Vegas

Super Bowl odds: 50-1 (opened 25-1)
Over/under: 8
Playoff odds: Yes +155, No -175

Coming off a surprising 12-4 campaign in 2018, the Bears took a huge step back in 2019. Mitchell Trubisky faltered as Chicago went 8-8 and just 4-12 ATS. Not surprisingly, with a solid defense and an offense that struggled to find its way, the Bears had 10 games go under the total. The Bears were 9-1 to win the Super Bowl heading into last season; this year they sit at 50-1. -- ESPN Chalk staff

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill as of Sept. 1.

Where the Bears landed in NFL Rank

  • No. 21: Khalil Mack, OLB

  • No. 75: Eddie Jackson, S

Speed reads before Week 1