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Uh-oh — one prediction has Bears going 7-9 and finishing last in division

That’s Sports Illustrated’s forecast. Some advice for Bears fans: Don’t take one dark prediction personally and, if possible, tap the brakes once or twice about the season.

Wild Card Round - Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears
Sports Illustrated predicts that the Bears’ defense, led by linebacker Khalil Mack (left), will regress in 2019.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears are so good and so terrifying that opposing players choose retirement over the prospect of facing them.

That’s probably how some of the more convulsive Bears fans viewed the shocking news during the game Saturday in Indianapolis that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was retiring at the tender age of 29.

But not everyone believes the Bears are as good as massive expanses of the greater Chicago area do. Not everyone thinks the team will be a Super Bowl contender this season.

In its latest issue, Sports Illustrated has the Bears going 7-9 and finishing last in the NFC North.

It’s my obligation at this point to implore you to shelter in place to avoid the enraged mobs of Bears fans setting fire to piles of the magazine in the streets and contemplating what heinous acts to visit upon the body of Andy Benoit, the SI writer who made the prediction.

At least two things are possible here:

Benoit didn’t realize that the workout supplements he was taking were actually magic mushrooms.

Whenever Chicago gets the slightest whiff of a half-decent Bears team, it goes overboard in its estimation of how the season will go.

Is one thing truer than the other? I don’t know. But it’s a bit unnerving when so many people in our city are so sure about the Bears. It feels unnatural, given the franchise’s sad record the last three decades. It has become accepted practice in Chicago to say that this is a Bears town; that, unlike the civic split over the Cubs and White Sox, the city puts all of its ardor behind the Bears. That ardor tends to make a lot of people act like sailors on the day an armistice is declared.

So a lot of Bears fans are revved up about the possibility (borderline certainty) that they will be enjoying a deep playoff run. And they should be. Coach Matt Nagy’s team finished 12-4 last season and lost a wild-card game it should have won.

But Benoit believes the defense will take a step back without defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who is now the Broncos’ coach; that the secondary is a weak spot; and that quarterback Mitch Trubisky will have to put up more points for his team to win.

He writes: The Bears are still better than they were before Nagy arrived last year, but the defensive slip and improvements by the NFC North’s other teams result in a pre-Nagy-like record.

All of that leads to a first-to-worst fall? To the Lions finishing ahead of the Bears in the division? The idea is like a microbe: hard to see.

It would take a lot more cosmic kilowatts for the Bears to go 7-9 than it would for them to finish 12-4. With the killer defense they have, it would take major injuries, bad luck and somebody up there not liking them. Even if Trubisky regressed, a possibility, Khalil Mack and the rest of that defense are good enough to win eight games.

My advice to Bears fans is twofold: Don’t take one dark prediction personally and, if possible, tap the brakes once or twice about the season. Ignore every impulse to tell Benoit he’s a perfect candidate for the world’s first brain transplant and try to take a clear-eyed look at your favorite team. There are actual questions, you know, starting with Trubisky and ending with the kicking situation.

What’s that you’re saying? A perfect record is a distinct possibility?

My advice ignored, as usual. Sigh.

SI has not been the Bears’ friend the past week. Several waived kickers who had been involved in the team’s nine-ring circus of a kicking competition criticized the process to the magazine. And then came the 7-9 prediction.

Most prognosticators have the Bears with double-digit victories in 2019. I have them going 10-6, mostly because I’m still not sure what they have in Trubisky. But human nature makes us run to the outlier, to the outrageous, so here we are, panting at the scene of the crime, a last-place forecast.

There are a few things Bears fans have going for them. Sports Illustrated’s track record on predictions rivals that of End Times doomsdayers. And SI had the Bears going 7-9 last season, as well. That was before they traded for Mack, but it’s hard to believe the magazine thought he was worth another five victories.

“The NFC North is too good for the Bears to surge high in 2018, but this team is markedly better than last year’s,’’ Sports Illustrated said in summation.

The writer of those words? Andy Benoit.