While doom and gloom is popular amongst Chicago Bears fans, media and bloggers, it’s hard to argue the team scoring convincing wins over two AFC division leaders is bad. At 3-4, the Bears have played a brutal schedule, including three teams with one loss, two with two losses and a Cleveland Browns team that fell off only recently due to some injuries. (Football Outsiders ranks their first seven games as the hardest played in the league and their remaining 10 the third hardest.) As terrible as the Bears looked against Tampa Bay, the reality is the team still has a good chance at making the playoffs this year if they’re able to win the next two games.
This week, the Bears welcome a San Francisco team coming to Chicago for a noon start. Then they head to Pittsburgh for Monday Night Football before the bye week. There’s no reason the Bears can’t be 5-4 entering their bye. Both teams offer favorable matchups, with quarterbacks who can’t really attack deep and a lack of perimeter playmakers. Both teams have decent defenses, but nothing like Tampa Bay and maybe not even as good as Green Bay.
Looking at how the middle of the backend of the NFC playoff field is playing out, it will probably only take nine wins to make the playoffs this year. Eight might even do it with tiebreakers. The Saints have the six seed at 4-2. The Vikings and Falcons are both 3-3. The Bears and free-falling Panthers are 3-4. If the Bears can win their next two, beat Detroit, Seattle, New York and split with Minnesota then they’re gonna be in.
But they’ll need improvement from the quarterback position.
Making the playoffs with a rookie quarterback would be quite an accomplishment. In order to do that, of course, the offense has to be infinitely better than it has been. There is a chance that happens after the bye week. It was then that the Bears found some magic last year, averaging 27.1 points and 352 yards per game — including the playoffs — in 2020. A lot of that magic was against inferior opponents, however, the Bears schedule simply doesn’t have many of those.
The beginning of the NFL season is about staying in contention. The Bears need to do that the next two weeks. Two wins and they’d have a very good shot at making the playoffs, even a split would keep their hopes alive.
With two losses, however, the bye week could be spent making sweeping changes.