Bears

Winning three of four still leaves Bears a playoff outsider needing help

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Winning three of four still leaves Bears a playoff outsider needing help

Successful teams take advantage of quirky opportunities. The Bears got a couple last Thursday against the Packers in Green Bay and now they have some in the form of their remaining schedule and playoff chances.

Their 5-6 record still leaves them on the outside of the two wild-card slots. The Packers (7-4) and Seattle Seahawks (6-5) hold those by virtue of being the only non-division leaders besides the Atlanta Falcons (6-5) with winning records. Slipping into the playoffs as a wild card out of the morass of also-rans remains a longshot but overtaking the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) with five to play is borderline impossible.

None of the what-if scenarios mean anything, however, unless the Bears simply win, and presumably win out. And they got that, even amid the celebrating of that 17-13 win in Lambeau Field.

“It kind of means something but we’ve got to continue to play ball,” said defensive end Willie Young. “We can’t get caught up with victories or get complacent because we won.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The fact that only one (Minnesota) of the remaining five opponents has a winning record borders as irrelevant. The reason is that nearly all of their arrows are pointing up: Washington and Tampa Bay have won two of their last three; Detroit has won three straight; and the Vikings have won six of their last seven.

The Bears may be an ascending team but they’re far from alone in a muddy NFC.

The biggest plus in the remaining five games is that they are all against NFC opponents, meaning that if the Bears win out, they are assured of a better record than Detroit, Tampa Bay and Washington. If Washington wins the NFC East, fine by the Bears, since it would mean that no one from that division would net out with a better record than Washington, and therefore the Bears.

[ALSO: Bears buy in to new coaching staff reaching new levels]

The Bears have talked about themselves as fighters and finishers. Here’s their chance.

“We had our backs against the wall [in Green Bay] but the main thing we talk about is finishing,” said defensive end Jarvis Jenkins. “We knew it was going to be a hostile environment, emotions were high but we just had to stay focused and this team did that for all four quarters.”

“All four quarters” applies to seasons, not just games.

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

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

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