Styf: Next three weeks to define Bears
The Bears are in the thick of the wild card playoff race. And, arguably, they have the easiest schedule of the pack of 8-6 teams ahead of them.
After losing five of their past six games, however, there isn’t much the Bears are happy about. They’re moping, they’re pointing fingers, they’re complaining about the fans and they’re all around acting like a team that’s done.
For that reason, they probably are.
Recent history (N.Y. Giants, Green Bay) shows that the last team into the playoffs has as good a chance as anyone of winning it. Two years ago, the Packers had this specific situation come up, needing two straight wins and help to make it.
They won both. Then, as all of you surely remember, they won it all.
The point is that the Bears are very much still in this thing. But the glaring issues that have caused them to lose all these games remain.
They can’t block. They have only one receiver, though Alshon Jeffery will be a pretty good one someday. And they can’t figure out the right times to run the ball.
The defense, meanwhile, isn’t getting as many turnovers and scores as they once did.
This Sunday, against an error-prone Arizona offense, that’s likely to change.
But, you never know. An uninspired team can lose to anyone. And the Bears are pretty uninspired right now.
Lovie Smith has put up a good front, saying he’s planning to be coaching in Chicago for years to come.
But now that’s he’s lost his team, and his fan base, he’s one loss away from it happening.
Now, the question is how it gets fixed.
To start, the Bears need to go out – play with a sense of urgency – and win the first of two very winnable games. Then, they need Minnesota to lose at Houston.
At that point, they’d be in good shape. If the Giants lose at Baltimore, even better.
Then, if they make the playoffs, they need to win one. They can’t just show up, put up another lackluster performance, and fade away.
People like to compare this year’s collapse to last year’s. And, numbers-wise, they are similar.
But this one is a lot more concerning, mainly because it happened with Jay Cutler playing.
This is their team, this is who they are. What happens the next three weeks will define them.
The pick: It’s hard to pick the Cardinals, who lost nine in a row before Sunday’s streak-breaking win over the Lions. So, I won’t.
Bears 24, Cardinals 21