Chicago Bears 2024 Predictions: Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze stand out as Year 1 impacts in the NFL

Will Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze help make the Bears a playoff team?
Chicago Bears Introduce Quarterback Caleb Williams And Wide Receiver Rome Odunze
Chicago Bears Introduce Quarterback Caleb Williams And Wide Receiver Rome Odunze / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears have two of the most promising rookies in Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze, raising the question: will they be enough to help the Bears make the playoffs for the first time since 2020? In this article, we make 10 predictions about how their season will unfold, focusing on Williams having a standout season, Odunze showing the potential that made him a top-ten pick, and the team achieving their best record since 2018.

1. Caleb Williams will win Rookie of the Year

One of the easiest predictions for the Chicago Bears this season is that Caleb Williams will win Rookie of the Year. There are three reasons why I think this will be the case and the first one is Williams was the best and most pro-ready quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. The second reason is he is going to an offense loaded with talent including three wide receivers who have a shot of making the Pro Bowl this year. The last reason is that he is playing under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron who has a long of history of developing quality quarterbacks.

Chicago Bears other first round pick makes a name for himself

2. Rome Odunze will finish third on the team in receptions

While this might seem like an underwhelming season for a top-ten pick, it’s not when you look at the other wide receivers he is playing with. The number one receiver on the team Is DJ Moore who led the team in receptions by 23 catches last season. The Bear’s number two receiver is six-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen who caught 108 passes last season.

Chicago Bears rookie receiver Rome Odunze
Rome Odunze / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

3. D'Andre Swift will have less production this season

A player who could see a dip in production this season is D’Andre Swift who the team signed this offseason. The biggest reason for this is that I expect Swift to carry less of a load this season, as the Bears have a quality backup in Khalil Herbert. This split time will hopefully allow Swift to be healthy all season for the first time in his NFL career.

4. The Bears will give up less sacks this year

Last season, the Bears gave up 2.9 sacks a game which ranked 25th in the NFL. Look for that number to improve this year. One of the reasons for this is Justin Fields had a hard time going through his reads quickly which caused him to get sacked too often. While Williams also tended to do this at USC, the amount of offensive weapons should allow him to speed up his ability to get rid of the ball quickly. He will also be helped by playing in Waldron’s offense that only gave up 2.2 sacks, despite Seattle having an averaged offensive line.

Chicago Bears defense will roar loud in 2024

5. The Bears will have more sacks this year

In addition to Chicago giving up fewer sacks this season, they will also get to the quarterback more this year. In 2023 the Bears only recorded 1.8 sacks a game which ranked 31st in the NFL. A big reason for this is they will have one of the better secondaries in the NFL this year, which will allow pass rushers Montez Sweat and DeMarcus Walker more time to get to the quarterback.

6. Tory Taylor will establish himself as one of the top five punters in the NFL

Tory Taylor stood out as the highest-graded punter I've ever evaluated coming out of college, and I anticipate that talent will seamlessly transition to the NFL. With a powerful leg, Taylor is poised to help the team drastically change field position. Moreover, his precision in consistently pinning teams inside the 10-yard line adds another dimension to his game. Given these abilities, I expect Taylor to be recognized as one of the top five punters in the NFL by the end of the season.

7. The Bears will give up their second-round pick in a trade this season

One thing that is becoming a trend with Ryan Poles is that he likes to make a trade close to the trade deadline which leads to the Bears giving up their second-round pick. Two years ago he made the worst trade he has made in his time in Chicago when he traded for wide receiver Chase Claypool. This past season he likely made the best trade of his career having traded a second-round selection for Montez Sweat. This year the Bears have two second-round picks including one they got from Carolina, and it would be a surprise if the team doesn’t use at least one of these selections to add a veteran.

8. Chicago will finish with their best record since 2018

The Bears have not had a winning season since 2018 when they went 12-4 and won the NFC North. This season they should have their first winning season in five years and just their second in 11 years. While it will be tough to win the NFC North this season, they should be in contention for a playoff spot and at worst should go 9-8.

9. Chicago will take a defensive end in the first or second round of the 2025 NFL Draft

The Chicago Bears only took one defensive player in the 2024 NFL Draft and that was with their last pick when they took Austin Booker in the fifth round. Look for that to change this season as the team is set on offense for the foreseeable future, and will still need to upgrade their pass rush. A player to keep an eye on is J.T. Tuimoloau of Ohio State.

10. Keenan Allen will leave as a free agent

Keenan Allen's time with the Bears seems to be limited to this season alone. The primary reason behind this decision is the team's acquisition of Rome Odunze, who is seen as Allen's eventual replacement.