Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: Where do Bears rank in strength of schedule?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

It looks to me like the Bears will face a lot of the best teams in the NFL in 2019. Where do they rank in strength of schedule?
Paul A.
Romeoville, Illinois

Based on the 2018 records of their 16 opponents in 2019, the Bears are tied for the fifth most difficult schedule in the NFL. The teams the Bears will play this season went a combined 131-121-4 last year, a .527 winning percentage. The only teams with tougher schedules are the Raiders (.539), Broncos (.537), Jaguars (.531) and Texans (.527). In terms of the Bears’ NFC North rivals, the Vikings rank 10th (.512), the Packers are tied for 14th (.504) and the Lions are tied for 19th (.496). This season the Bears will host the Lions (6-10), Packers (6-9-1), Vikings (8-7-1), Cowboys (10-6), Giants (5-11), Chiefs (12-4), Chargers (12-4) and Saints (13-3); visit the Lions (6-10), Packers (6-9-1), Vikings (8-7-1), Eagles (9-7), Redskins (7-9), Broncos (6-10) and Rams (13-3); and play the Raiders (4-12) in London. While it’s interesting to look at strength of schedule, I don’t think it really means a whole lot. Teams that are expected to be good may have a down year and vice versa. I’m sure a lot of teams were counting on beating the Bears last year after they went 5-11 in 2017, but they obviously were much better than expected.

Will Anthony Miller become a legitimate threat this season? Will he be used primarily in the slot of challenge Taylor Gabriel for the No. 2 spot behind Allen Robinson?
From @StanKuba on Twitter

I think you could describe receiver Anthony Miller as a legitimate threat last season as a rookie when he led the Bears with seven touchdown receptions. But I do believe that he will take a big step in his second NFL season and will contend for a starting position. The second-round draft pick from Memphis was hampered most of last year with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. I know that his expectations are sky-high entering 2019. Here’s what he recently told the Chicago Tribune: “Chicago hasn’t seen how I can play yet. Really I was playing games with like one arm, making it happen. This year I’ve got two, so watch out.”

With Ryan Pace’s history of trading up in the draft and the likeliness of that happening again this year, where do you see the Bears’ ability to trade up in terms of what round?
From @OuwejanC on Twitter

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has traded up in each of the last three drafts, moving up to pick outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in the first round and inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski in the fourth round in 2016, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the first round and safety Eddie Jackson in the fourth round in 2017, and receiver Anthony Miller in the second round last year. But trading up in this year’s draft figures to be more difficult given that the Bears have only five picks, including none in the first two rounds after trading them to acquire All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack and Miller, respectively. The Bears will pick at No. 87 in the third round, No. 126 in the fourth round, No. 162 in the fifth round and Nos. 222 and 238 in the seventh round. The one place I could see Pace trading up is by dealing his two seventh-round choices to move up into the sixth round if there’s a player on the board that he’s targeting. Pace also could trade down, something he did twice in the second round in 2016.

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