2) Chicago Bears
Despite some key personnel losses and taking a step backward last season, the Bears are definitely still a force to be reckoned with on any given Sunday.
The Monsters of the Midway have lived up to that billing on defense in recent seasons, however, they did lose some of their bite last season when former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left the Windy City to take up the reigns as the Denver Broncos head coach.
So despite the fact that the system didn’t change much, the results were less spectacular then they had been under Fangio.
The losses of Leonard Floyd, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Nick Williams will take away a little more bite from the Bears front seven, but luckily they do have some able bodies to help keep them competitive.
Eddie Goldman is easily the best of the Bears interior linemen, but he will be surrounded by some interesting pieces.
Robert Quinn has arrived from Dallas with the hope that he will give the Bears pass-rush some more juice. But the unquestioned leader of the Bears pass-rush is Khalil Mack.
Mack is absolutely one of the most feared pass-rushers in the game and a true play-maker on defense. When he makes his mind up to get to an opposing passer, there is very little the offense can do to stop him. Mack is a one-man wrecking crew. The Bears hope that fifth-round pick Trevis Gipson will be able to contribute off the edge as well.
Young Roquan Smith is a tackling machine. His 101 stops led the Bears last season and his speed and athleticism make him a sideline to sideline force. Danny Trevathan is still one of the impact players on this Bears defense and the combination of he and Smith makes life difficult on opposing offenses.
Safety Eddie Jackson is still the Bears’ best player in the secondary and ranges all over the field to make plays, but Kyle Fuller continues to be very steady on the corner both in coverage as well as sacrificing his body to come up and make a tackle. However, the Bears may have gotten a steal in the second round with the selection of former Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson.
The youngster battled some injuries at Utah but is a play-maker who also fits the Bears’ physical style of play. He should earn minutes early.
These Bears may not be as good defensively as they were two years ago, but they do have some nice pieces that fit their scheme as well as good defensive leadership. But there is one other defense that tops all the others in the NFC North.