It's incredible how quickly storylines can change in the NFL. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Bears had one of the most challenging (if not the most challenging) remaining schedules in the NFL. But is that really the case?
It sure doesn't feel that way.
This Sunday features what should be a challenging test for the Bears against a New Orleans Saints team that's managed to survive four weeks without QB Drew Brees and amass a 5-1 record. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater has been good enough and the defense has been fantastic. But what would this team look like without RB Alvin Kamara in the lineup?
We might find out at Soldier Field this weekend. Kamara is trending toward missing the game with an ankle injury, which means the Bears will face the Saints without BOTH Brees and Kamara. That's not nearly as challenging of a mission as it was expected to be.
Then it's Week 8 and the Bears welcome the struggling Los Angeles Chargers, losers of two straight games, to Soldier Field. As is the case every year, the Chargers have been brutalized by injuries and are playing nowhere near the contender level anticipated from QB Phillip Rivers, WR Keenan Allen and RB Melvin Gordon. They're a bad team right now, and they won't get much better in just two weeks.
In Week 9, the Bears travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles and one of the NFL's worst all-around secondaries. Philly is 3-3 and struggling to find an identity. They've dealt with injuries, too, but man...that secondary is just awful.
Let's jump forward to Week 11 and the Bears' trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams. There weren't many NFC teams favored more than the Rams to represent the conference in the Super Bowl this year, but that shine has worn off. QB Jared Goff looks like a rookie again and the defense, even with the addition of CB Jalen Ramsey, just isn't the same. There's a reason why they're 3-3; Los Angeles is an average team right now.
And remember: The rest of the Bears' schedule includes the lowly Giants, the struggling Cowboys, the potentially Mahomes-less Chiefs and a few NFC North matchups that are more than winnable.
Maybe this is nothing more than wishful thinking. But the Bears have a great opportunity to get hot down the stretch and build momentum for a second-straight playoff appearance.