Crucial questions in Bears’ offseason: Who’s under most pressure in 2020?

Sun-Times beat writer Jason Lieser answers seven important questions heading into the season.

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Mack can’t have another modestly productive season in 2020. The Bears need him to dominate.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

From the roster to the schedule, the Bears now have a clear picture of what to expect in 2020. Sun-Times Bears beat writer Jason Lieser takes a look at where they stand during what would normally be Organized Team Activities:

The most notable thing to come out of the Bears’ schedule was …

The shared bye with the Giants in Week 11. The NFL deliberately matched bye weeks for every matchup in Week 2, showing it is bracing for potential fallout from the opening week. On the plus side for the Bears, if everything stays on schedule, that’s an ideal time for a bye.

What will the Bears’ record be in 2020?

They’ll go 9-7 with a best-case scenario of 11-5 and the floor being 6-10. Expect a strong start as they open with the Lions, Giants and Falcons (a combined 14-33-1 last season), then a rough patch, but a late push to give themselves a chance at 7-5 going into the home stretch. They’ll catch a break if the Colts, Titans and Texans don’t turn out to be as good as most people think. 

Which game would you most hate to see canceled?

The finale at home against the Packers. Any game between these teams is can’t miss. There are some compelling matchups outside the division for the Bears, but nothing beats this rivalry.

Who will start more games: Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky?

Foles. Not only is Foles a slight favorite to outperform Trubisky, the Bears need him to be their answer. The soonest they can give their next prospective franchise quarterback a shot is probably the 2022 opener, so it’d be ideal for Foles to be the bridge this season and next. And if he wins the job, he gets a very favorable start to the season.

At which position do the Bears still need help?

Cornerback. They’ll certainly be on the lookout for a quality veteran to shake loose before the season starts. Their best hope at the moment is second-round pick Jaylon Johnson being NFL-ready from the jump, but it’s hard to plan on that. The other competitors are former Steelers first-rounder Artie Burns (played just 6 percent of his team’s defensive snaps last season) and Kevin Toliver (two career starts). 

Which non-quarterback is under the most pressure this season?

Khalil Mack. Last season was far from his standards as he finished with his lowest sack total (8.5) since being a rookie. He had multiple games with little or nothing on the stat sheet. While there are valid explanations for that, like the absence of Akiem Hicks and the ineffectiveness of Leonard Floyd, there were whispers about whether Mack was worth his enormous contract. He’ll be deeply driven to snap back.

Who wins the NFC North?

The Vikings. They actually have the best record in the division — fifth-best in the NFL — over the last five seasons and have been hovering just outside the league’s top tier. They had a top-five defense last season, but their downfall was an 0-4 performance against the Bears and Packers. This is the year they finally break through.

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