Even though the Chicago Bears aren’t playing this week while on the bye, that doesn’t mean there aren’t teams they should be rooting for as draft position is at stake.
Thanks to Baker Mayfield’s incredible comeback performance in his Rams’ debut on Thursday night, the Bears enter Sunday in possession of the second overall pick.
But how can they keep that pick at the end of the week? And how can they exit their bye with the best draft position scenarios? Here’s a quick rooting guide!
Root for: Broncos
The Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) are heading to Denver to take on their divisional rival Broncos (3-9) for the first time this season.
This is the most important game on Sunday for the Bears. If the Broncos lose, they will move up to the second pick and drop the Bears to third.
The Broncos are losers of four straight losing to the Titans, Raiders, Panthers and Ravens since their bye week. It’s a different story for the Chiefs who won four games in a row after their bye week before falling to the Bengals last week.
Denver is a +9-point underdog, which is no surprise considering the Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2015. That’s right, Patrick Mahomes has never lost to the Broncos.
Asking the Broncos to win on Sunday is a tall order considering the fact the Chiefs possess the league’s top offense as they lead the league in yards per game (423.3) and points per game (29.2).
Denver’s defense has been fantastic at keeping opposing offenses from scoring, allowing the second-fewest points per game (17). However, the reason why the Broncos have failed to win games is due to their lack of offensive production, ranking 27th in yards (319.1) and dead-last in points (13.8).
The fact that the Broncos have to play the Chiefs one more time after this week is a concern as chances are strong that Denver will fall in both contests, only further competing with the Bears for the second-overall pick.
And remember, Denver has no reason to “tank” as their first-round pick is going to Seattle as a part of the Russell Wilson trade.
Root for: Panthers
The Panthers are currently 1.5 games behind the Bears and hold the sixth-overall pick.
Even though they can’t surpass the Bears this week with a loss, Carolina can close the gap. So, it’s best to root for that cushion between the two teams to grow.
This week is a tough road test for the Panthers (4-8) as they head to the west coast to face the (7-5) Seattle Seahawks. It should be mentioned that Carolina has failed to win a single game on the road this season.
The Panthers are a +3.5-underdog, and they have a chance to pull off the upset as their defense has been playing lights out — allowing 15 points or less since Week 9 and winners of two of their last three.
Carolina could elect to go ground-and-pound with D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard as the Seahawks have the league’s second-worst run defense, allowing 4.9 yards per carry and 16 rushing touchdowns.
And perhaps seeing what Mayfield did with the Rams will only further inspire the Panthers to have a spirited performance to pull it off.
Root for: Jaguars
Another team that’s right behind the Bears are the 4-8 Jacksonville Jaguars. After a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season, the Jaguars are winners of two of their last four beating the Raiders and Ravens.
This week, they head to Nashville to take on the (7-5) Tennessee Titans who have lost two straight games to the Bengals and Eagles. Surely they are looking to get back on track with the Jaguars in town.
Hopefully, it’s the Jaguars that come out swinging as they are 1.5 games behind the Bears. History says that will not be the case as the Jaguars have not won a game in Tennessee in eight years.
In order to come away with the victory, the Jaguars are going to need to do their best to make this game a shootout. The Titans are a slow-burn team that pounds the rock with Derrick Henry, but they don’t have the receiving weapons to stay in high-scoring games. They rank 15th in rushing (119.9 ypg), 30th in passing (171.4 ypg) and 26th in points scored (18.3 ppg).
Jacksonville is average in scoring (17th – 21.5 ppg) and passing (14th – 224.3 ypg ) … but they should be able to find success against a Titans’ defense that gives up the second-most passing yards per game (276.7) and the fourth-most passing touchdowns per game (1.8).
A Jaguars’ win will keep them at arm’s length of the Bears, but if they lose to the Titans, they’ll close the gap a bit. It won’t change the Bears’ draft position this week.
Root for: Cardinals
Just like the Panthers and Jaguars, the (4-8) Cardinals are 1.5 games behind the Bears and can close that gap and move up in draft order with a loss to the (6-6) Patriots on Monday night.
Coming off their bye, the Cardinals are +2.5-underdogs against a Patriots team that has struggled offensively, only averaging 15.3 points scored per game over their last three. New England’s defense is top-10 across the board, and shouldn’t have much issue handling a Cardinals’ offense that is just middle of the road ranking 16th in points (22 ppg) and 20th in yards (334.8 ypg).
In order to come away with the win, the Cardinals are going to need a huge performance out of quarterback Kyler Murray as he’s the x-factor in this matchup.
Still, a Cardinals’ loss (like the Jaguars) is not the end of the world for the Bears. It’s just preferred.
Root for: Texans
If the Bears want any shot at the first pick in the draft, they need the Houston Texans to win at least two games. Unfortunately, beating the (9-3) Cowboys this week seems purely impossible.
Still, why not at least root for a miracle?
The Texans’ remaining schedule after this week includes the Chiefs, Titans, Jaguars and Colts. They tied with the Colts and beat Jacksonville this season, so perhaps those final two weeks will be the best chance … unless they tank.
Root for: Bye weeks
Luckily for the Bears, a couple of teams within 1.5 games of them also share the Week 14 bye and won’t be able to improve their draft status, too.
- (4-9) Saints, 5th Overall (Eagles own the pick)
- (4-8-1) Colts, 9th Overall