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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Brendan Sugrue

Revisiting our bold predictions from the 2022 season

When it comes to NFL predictions, there’s simply not enough accountability. Anyone can make a claim or prediction and boast if it comes true, or hide the evidence if it doesn’t. Not at Bears Wire though.

All season long, we’ve been providing bold predictions ahead of each Bears game, with various degrees of success. But prior to Week 1, we had a list of predictions that we saw playing out over the course of the entire season. Predictions such as offensive milestones or end-of-year awards that we believed had a legitimate shot of coming true.

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Simply put, the results were not kind but we’re holding ourselves accountable. Here were our bold predictions heading into 2022 and the results of each one. But be warned as this article contains freezing cold takes that could lead to frostbite.

1. Cole Kmet has 80+ receptions

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 13: Cole Kmet #85 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Verdict: Pretty wrong.

Cole Kmet barely hit 50 receptions this season. Granted, the Bears were a more ground-oriented team this year with their impressive rushing offense. Kmet still had a solid season, totaling 544 yards and seven touchdowns. He was the team’s leading pass catcher and also Fields’ most trusted receiver after Darnell Mooney went down, with that connection being evident in multiple games.

Kmet didn’t come close to the 80 receptions like we predicted, but he was able to breakout in other ways.

2. Alex Leatherwood is starting by midseason

Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tackle Alex Leatherwood sits on the bench during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Wrong.

Alex Leatherwood’s Bears career got off to a horrendous start as he was shelved due to mononucleosis early in the year. It took him a long time to get back up to speed, but when he did, he showed promise. Leatherwood started rotating at right tackle and actually seemed poised for a moment to take over starting duties in December.

That never happened. After his solid outing against the Green Bay Packers, Leatherwood struggled mightily when give another opportunity against the Philadelphia Eagles. He had his shot and couldn’t capitalize. Now his Bears career is up on the air as the gamble to claim him off waivers from the Las Vegas Raiders last summer hasn’t exactly paid off.

3. Five players have at least 5.0 sacks

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 13: Justin Jones #93 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a missed field goal by Washington Commanders during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field on October 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Verdict: VERY wrong.

This might be the worst prediction we’ve had in a long, long time. Heading into the season, the Bears defensive line lacked stars, but it appeared to have solid players who would all take turns getting after the quarterback. And for the first couple of weeks, it actually looked like this prediction would come to fruition.

After Week 3, four players already had at least one sack. But then the well dried up. Robert Quinn was dealt midway through the year and the pass rush disappeared shortly after. No player had five sacks and the team leader was safety Jaquan Brisker with four. There’s no way to sugarcoat this one, it was an awful miss.

4. Jaquan Brisker is a finalist for DROY

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 24: Jaquan Brisker #9 of the Chicago Bears leaves the field after defeating the New England Patriots 33-14 at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Verdict: Wrong

Like other predictions, this one had legs for the first half of the season. Brisker had a solid start to his rookie career and was in the upper echelon of defensive rookies. But injuries and inconsistency began to creep in and the emergence of other rookies such as Tariq Woolen and Aidan Hutchinson pushed Brisker out of any contention for the award.

Though Brisker wasn’t a finalist for the award, he’s considered by many to be the team’s defensive rookie of the year for his performance. Brisker finished the year with 104 total tackles, 4.0 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. He still had a very productive first year, just not productive enough to be one of the top-three defensive rookies in the league.

5. The Bears beat the Packers in Green Bay

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 18: Equanimeous St. Brown #19 of the Chicago Bears is chased by Adrian Amos #31 of the Green Bay Packers during the first half at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Verdict: Wrong

Probably the boldest of all the predictions, we were riding the wave of success new Bears coaches have had when playing their first game in Green Bay. Since 1999, all but one first-year Bears head coach got a victory at Lambeau Field, except for Matt Nagy in 2018. Coming off a Week 1 win over the San Francisco 49ers, it seemed possible that Matt Eberflus could pull off an upset, especially with the Packers struggling in their opener.

That obviously didn’t happen with Green Bay once again sticking it to the Bears and winning 27-10, primarily thanks to their running game. Eberflus not only failed to beat the Packers on the road, he failed to beat them at all.

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