Bears

Bears in the playoffs? They don't need to be good, just less bad than other teams

Bears in the playoffs? They don't need to be good, just less bad than other teams

Turning the corner — and the page — in their 2016 season, the Bears and fans are entitled to a comprehensive look at their year, specifically whether playoffs are even a discussion point. That is, after all, the first objective of a regular season, arguably one notch above player development, which would probably run concurrent with any playoff-grade stretch, but that’s for another conversation.

The Bears in the playoffs? The obvious answer is not yet. But wait, there’s more.

First of all, as noted here in the past, whether or not the Bears are “good” is a meaningless debate. It doesn’t matter. The NFL is all about grading on a curve. The Bears (no pun intended) are one of those two guys around the campfire when a grizzly barrels in on them. The first guy yells, “Run!” The second guy hollers, “No way! We’re not faster than a bear!”

“I don’t have to be faster than the bear,” the first guy yells over his shoulder. “I just have to be faster than you!”

The Bears don’t have to be good. They just have to be better — or even just less bad — than the other guys.

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And right now the Bears are better, or less bad, than the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, the two teams the Bears have managed to beat in this otherwise abysmal season. The Lions might be more vibrant right now, but the Bears did beat them. Meanwhile, the Vikings have lost three straight; and the Packers have lost three of their last four games, the only win coming against the Bears with Matt Barkley in at quarterback.

Consider: In nine of the past 10 seasons, at least one team and more commonly two or three have reached the playoffs with records of 9-7 or worse. Teams have won divisions with 8-8 records and even 7-8-1 marks. Point being: The bar is not prohibitively high, at least in absolute terms.

“You can spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror driving your car,” coach John Fox said. “If you spend too much time looking back, then you wreck.

“So our focus is in front of us now. A couple of those games go the other way, we’re 4-4 instead of 2-6. It sounds a little better, no doubt. But we can’t change that. We are what we are. Right now we can be 10-6 or 2-14; that’s the reality, math-wise. Hopefully we can move more toward the first one.”

But whether the Bears have even a remote chance to reach 9-7 is clearly the far greater unknown. They would need to win seven of eight, this by a team that has failed to win more than two straight games since the improbable 3-0 start in 2013 under Marc Trestman. Little in the John Fox tenure has suggested an ability to sustain any sort of winning football for more than a couple of games.

The Bears’ remaining schedule is a true mixed bag: a lot of winnable games (which every team is looking at the Bears as), but also five of the eight games coming against teams with .500 or better records — Giants, Lions, Packers, Washington, Vikings. Then again, the Bears have beaten two of those five.

All of which means pretty much nothing, because the only thing that does matter is whether the Bears can take a second step toward respectability as of next Sunday. And if they can’t, then the win over Minnesota was just a spot of comic relief and of interest only as part of any Jay Cutler conversation.

“We’ve got a whole half of a season left,” Fox said. “Like the second half of a game, a lot can happen. There’s not as big a difference sometimes as people on the outside might think. We look at the tape and we evaluate things.

“It’s there for the taking; it’s just a matter of being a little fortunate as far as injury wise and the way the ball bounces, and how we do our job.”

SportsTalk Podcast: Robbie Gould continues to toy with Bears fans... is a potential deal in sight?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Podcast: Robbie Gould continues to toy with Bears fans... is a potential deal in sight?

0:00 - The Cubs crush the Dodgers as El Mago puts on another show at Wrigley. Meanwhile, is the bullpen the biggest reason why they are above .500?

5:00 - One day away from the NFL Draft. Is Kyler Murray a lock to be the #1 pick. Will the Bears move up to the 2nd round?

8:00 - Robbie Gould continues to dominate the conversation with Bears fans. Hub gives his insight on a potential deal.

10:00 - Frank Thomas and Chuck Garfien join the panel to talk White Sox. They discuss when the top prospects should get called up and if now is the time for the Southsiders to add veterans like Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Contestant on Jeopardy! winning streak shouts out Bears during Wednesday's episode

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AP

Contestant on Jeopardy! winning streak shouts out Bears during Wednesday's episode

One of the best Jeopardy! contestants of all-time apparently is the same as many other Chicagoland natives.

James Holzhauer won his 15-straight episode of Jeopardy! on Wednesday. The 34-year-old from Naperville found a clever way to shout out Chicago on Wednesday's episode, using the Bears "C" logo to spell out his name.

James representing on jeopardy from r/CHIBears

As you can see, Holzhauer added a line to the Bears logo so that it wouldn't read as "Jamcs." Nonetheless, it still is a cool move by the man who has racked up $1,135,175 during his 15 episode win-streak.

However, Holzhauer doesn't only support Chicago teams. After growing up a Blackhawks fan, he has become a fan of the Vegas Golden Knights since their creation in 2017.

With his win on Wednesday, Holzhauer now ranks fourth on the show's consecutive win list. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.