Of the six NFL teams that finished with 8-8 records last season, NFL media senior analyst Gil Brandt predicts that the Bears will show the most improvement in 2014, winning 10 games.
"With Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte leading the way, Chicago's offense had a prolific 2013, scoring at a clip of 27.8 points per game, the second-best mark in the NFL," Brandt writes on NFL.com.
"Unfortunately for the Bears, their defense allowed their opponents to be even more prolific; Chicago gave up 29.9 points per game, among the worst rates in the league. The Bears also had the NFL's worst run defense, yielding 161.4 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry, and struggled to bring down the passer, finishing with a league-low 31 sacks.
"Chicago's big offseason task, then, was to shore up the defense. And to that end, I think they did a great job in free agency, adding talents like Jared Allen, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston; Houston, in fact, was probably the Oakland Raiders' best defensive player last season.
"As for the draft, Chicago used its first-round pick on Kyle Fuller, whom I expect will contribute immediately as a third cornerback, and turned to the line in the second round, grabbing LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, who projects as an eventual starter. Finally, new defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni is very, very good at what he does, and will be a boon to the unit. With a better defense supporting their explosive offense, the Bears should make a sizable leap in 2014."