Broncos win the battle, Bears win the war despite loss

It may have looked like merely a normal regular season game, but it was for so much more between the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.

Sep 23, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) during the pregame
Sep 23, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) during the pregame / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

Make no mistake: The Chicago Bears would have preferred to win Sunday's Week 4 winless faceoff against the Denver Broncos. The winner may have saved their season. The loser likely postured themselves for the NFL Draft rather than for any success the rest of this season.

The Bears are now with just one other team as squad yet to get a win: The Carolina Panthers. Guess who owns Carolina's pick? The Bears.

Again, the Bears would have preferred to win Sunday's game, but if they were trying to pull off a tank game in order to position themselves for a reset at quarterback in Caleb Williams -- who is likely to declare for the NFL after this year's college football season -- they put on a master class.

Go up 28-7. Give fans tons more hope in three quarters than they've had in three games this season. Then, let it all burn and let your opponent come back for a 31-28 victory.

What's that smell? The diesel of the tank engine burning. It moves one step closer to its destiny: Pick No. 1.

Bears getting No. 1 pick again would allow them a rare second chance

Of course, Chicago had the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, but traded it away in order to committ to Justin Fields and accrue more draft picks. That, momentarily, looks like it was the wrong play, but taking a longer perspective, it's easy to see why this might work out in Chicago's favor regardless of a misfire.

Now, they have three of Carolina's picks (one of the four picks in the deal was a 2023 pick) in addition to their own. As things stand now, the Bears would pick back-to-back at the open of the 2023 NFL Draft. That would allow them to grab Caleb Williams and perhaps WR Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 2 an unprecedented infusion of talent.

The last team to have No. 1 overall picks (and actually use them) in consecutive years was the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 and 2022. Overall, that appears to have worked well.

Week 4's Broncos vs Bears matchup is an interesting glimpse into two franchises. Both have put their respective fanbases through hell to start the year, yet have drastically different pictures to look forward to in the future. Denver has Russell Wilson on guaranteed money for years to come, while the Bears remain nimble and able to pivot and weave through the landscape of their roster construction.

Chicago has the second-most projected cap space as of today to use in 2024, Denver 27th.

The loss might sting for Bears fans today, but there is still plenty to look forward to, so long as there is still trust in the front office to draft wisely.

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