If Bears Want to Be Taken Seriously in Rodgersless NFC North, They Must Win Sunday

| October 16th, 2017

For five minutes, our eyes left the corner. That same corner where television after television has exclusively shown Bears games at Josie Woods Pub for the last seventeen years. Our eyes didn’t go far, just about six feet west to a second, smaller television above the bottles of Boodles gin. Churchill’s gin. My gin until I woke up on an  subway train at Coney Island at five in the morning.

Aaron Rodgers was down. Last time it was Shea McClellin, in navy. This time it was Anthony Barr, in purple. Different first-round edge rushers. Same bone.

Rodgers knew the second he hit the ground. A bunch of lubricated Bears fans in an underground Village bar knew it too. Rodgers isn’t playing football again this season. And while that is terrible news for a league losing too many star players each week, there won’t be many sympathetic hearts at Halas Hall or Eden Prairie or wherever the hell the Lions’ offices are.

The Rodgers injury swings the NFC North door open but will it open wide enough for the Bears – currently two games back of the lead – to find their way through? It’s still premature for this 2017 group to consider the playoffs a possibility but the Rodgers injury likely means the division will be won with ten victories instead of twelve.

Before the Bears start thinking about winning ten games, they need to find a way to win back-to-back games for the first time since November 2015. The Carolina Panthers are not the Baltimore Ravens. Sunday at Soldier Field the Bears will face a good team coming off a tough home loss to the Eagles. They have a big, strong-armed quarterback, a couple power forwards on the outside and a defense that plays as tough as head coach Ron Rivera. The Bears won’t win this game running the ball fifty-four times.

And winning this game is the only way the Bears can validate any talk around their “making a run”. Winning this game is the only way an argument can be made for the Bears taking advantage of their oldest rival’s Sunday misfortune. A win moves them to 3-4, a stone’s throw from .500, with a schedule that looks less and less formidable as the weeks progress.

A loss moves them to 2-5 and more than likely three games back of a Vikings team that has already beaten them in Chicago. (I can’t see the Ravens beating the Vikings defense next weekend but who the hell knows in this crazy league.) If you’re magic number is ten wins, you’d have to believe this group is capable of finishing 9-1 if they lost Sunday. Spoiler alert: they’re not.

Sunday is the first true test for the Biscuit Boys. The result will determine if this season will be all about development and the future or if the 2017 Chicago Bears are potentially playing meaningful games into the winter. Maybe even one on Week 17, New Year’s Eve, Minneapolis?

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