I’m not going to waste time talking about the Bears and Vikes games last week, but I AM going to focus on what happens now — with three games left apiece.
So far, all we know is that the Bears D is not good when playing other good teams. They only appear to be good when playing games they’re expected to win. It’s no coincidence their recent wins have been against the lousiest of the league — Jacksonville, Detroit, St. Louis — they remind me of a pouty Rec League group that plays in the lower levels just to feel good about themselves.
Lance Briggs said earlier this year that when the Bears defense wanted to play well they would play well. Hmmm. Well, sidestepping the most obvious question, (“As a professional athlete player, when do you NOT want to play well?”) question #2 is, “Do you find it odd that in games the defense SHOULD have been amped up, you actually played worse?” Failures such as:
- A chance to beat an undefeated Titans team.
- A chance to claim first place in the NFC North by beating the division rival Packers at Lambeau.
- A change to reclaim first place in the NFC by beating the Vikings in prime time
Were they not pumped up about these games?
THESE are the games you have to win, THESE are the games you win if you deserve to be the Division Champs — Tough games, DIVISION games. It’s because the Bears can’t win to save their own hides that having to root against the Vikings is just maddening.
If the Bears won games they were supposed to, we shouldn’t have to watch the scoreboard to see if Detroit is going to beat them (Or Arizona, or Atlanta, or New York) in the next few weeks. Larry Mayer’s ChicagoBears.com Chalk Talk made it painfully clear what needs to happen for the Bears to make the playoffs:
There are two ways for the Bears to win the NFC North: They go 2-1 and the Vikings go 0-3, or the Bears go 3-0 and the Vikings lose at least two of their final three games. Minnesota can win the division with two victories regardless of what the Bears do.
So, if I must, here’s who they both play in weeks 15, 16 & 17.
- Vikes (8-5): Arizona* (8-5), Atlanta** (8-5), New York* (11-2)
- — combined record (27-12) .692
- Bears (7-6): New Orleans** (7-6), Green Bay (5-8), Houston (6-7)
- — combined record (18-21) .462
(*Clinched Playoff Birth, **Wild Card Race)
So, at first blush, The Vikings have a more difficult schedule. But you have to consider both Arizona and especially New York have nothing left to play for, so their only real difficult game is Atlanta. Based on Mayer’s comments, I find it very unlikely that Minnesota — with the playoffs on the line, will manage to lose to the Cards and Giants; both disinterested teams.
Chicago, though their win% looks favorable, has to first play a New Orleans team with a matching record, healthy Reggie Bush, and a serious bone to pick with two losses in the last two years against the Bears — one a NFC Divisional Playoff upset. Next up, Green Bay — historic rivals who, no doubt, would love to spoil a Bear playoff run. Finally, you have a Houston team which the Bears should not even THINK about until they have beat both Green Bay and New Orleans and the Vikings have lost to Atlanta.
So… speculate all you want, they don’t deserve to win the division. Why? Because they’ve had TWO chances to do so within a month, and they’ve failed. WHY DO WE WANT TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS ANYWAY?
To get blasted by whomever we play? To give the Bears Franchise an excuse not to make any major shake-ups in the off season? To get a higher draft pick? Seriously, why?