NFL schedule

Bears' schedule will present big challenges over next five games

Bears' schedule will present big challenges over next five games

The Bears will enjoy a little rest and relaxation during their bye week Sunday, but that doesn't mean the fanbase is anxiety-free.

At 3-2 and with questions surrounding the offensive line and quarterback, the Bears can't afford a sluggish return to the field in Week 7. The NFC is loaded with talented teams at the top and the conference's wild-card race is going to resemble something of a Thunderdome deathmatch in December.

The easiest path to the playoffs for the Bears is a second-consecutive NFC North crown. Unfortunately, the Packers have proven through their 4-1 start that they're legit; they finally have a defense to match Aaron Rodgers' winning ways and are already armed with a 1.5-game lead over Chicago.

Can the Bears get back into the mix for a division title? Absolutely, but we can't ignore their route to a wild card. They'll need at least 10 wins, and in order to reach that mark, the Bears have to win at least three of their next five games:

Week 7: Saints (4-1)
Week 8: Chargers (2-3)
Week 9: @ Eagles (3-2)
Week 10: Lions (2-1-1)
Week 11: @ Rams (3-2)

Victories over the Chargers, Lions and either the Saints, Rams or Eagles would improve their record to 6-4. Three of their final six games are in the division, and if they can't win those, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs anyway. The remaining out-of-division games include the Chiefs, Giants and Cowboys; if they sweep their division foes and win one of the non-NFC North games, they'll hit the magic 10-win number.

And remember: this defense is more than capable of keeping the Bears in all 11 games that remain on the schedule. That's never been in question. But the offense's struggles are very real, and if Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky don't get their act together quickly after the bye, the season will slip away.

So enjoy your relaxing Sunday, Bears fans. It's the last one you're going to have for a while.