John Fox is among the coaches who break seasons down into quarters, and few in recent seasons have been as successful as Fox at strong finishes. His last three Denver teams were a combined 10-2 in fourth quarters of their seasons. The Bears need that pattern to continue.
“It would be huge for us,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “I think any team across the NFL, if the quarterback is playing well, they’re going to have a chance do well on offense and win football games. That’s our goal right now.”
The Bears and Washington Redskins come into Sunday’s game with the same 5-7 records. They come with nearly opposite records home and away, with Washington 0-5 on the road and the Bears 1-5 at home, including last week’s emotionally gutting loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The big difference is that Washington is leading the NFL’s weakest division while the Bears need to win out to even remain in the playoff discussion. Losing to the 49ers took most of the Bears’ fate out of their hands, making four more wins over NFC opponents both a challenge and an opportunity, particularly because the four games include Minnesota (8-5) and Tampa Bay (6-6).
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Meaning: The Bears are in the “pre-playoffs” right now.
“I mean, we could look at it that way,” said cornerback Tracy Porter. “But we're just taking it one game at a time, we're going to try to tally up as many wins as possible but we're just going to take it one game at a time trying to win each game and practice until Sunday.”
The Bears are favored and playing against a winless road team with a losing record. That was, however, the same situation that the Bears had last week with San Francisco.
The anomaly is that the Bears are 1-3 in games when they hold a positive turnover ratio and 3-2 when they give the ball away more than they take it. But they are 1-4 when they fail to come up with at least one takeaway. Kirk Cousins hasn’t thrown a pick in his last two and four of his last six games but is sackable (11 in his last four games) and the Bears are due.
And then, pending results elsewhere, the playoff talk can start again.
“That’s the goal every season and until the season’s over or you’re mathematically eliminated, I think that’s a carrot out there for every team in the league right now unless you’re mathematically eliminated,” Fox said. “It’s important, whether it’s the fourth quarter of a game or fourth quarter of a season.”
Prediction: Bears 17, Redskins 14