Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery
The Chicago Bears have not played a complete game where both the offense and defense play up to their capabilities. Even the beatdown the Bears gave the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to the bye week wasn’t a complete game. The offense didn’t find its way until the second half, and the pass rush wasn’t as nasty as it had been earlier in the season.
With those factors in mind, it’s easy to see that this Chicago Bears team is capable of putting together more complete efforts. Also, the Bears will need to play at their highest level in order to overcome potential roadblocks along the way.
The biggest most obvious roadblock starts with the back half of the schedule. The last seven games are the games that will decide the Bears’ fate this season. They start with a Week 10 matchup against the Texans (6-1), travel on the road to face the 49ers (4-2), come back home to take on the Vikings (4-2) and the Seahawks( 4-2), go into Minnesota to battle Vikings, return to Solider Field to play Green Bay (3-3) and then close out the season with road contests against the Cardinals and the Lions.
Of those remaining games, only the Lions have a losing record, but they seemed to have gotten a bit of momentum back after knocking off the Eagles in OT.
All of those teams are currently in the playoff hunt, and as the leaves start to fall from the trees, will be fighting to maintain a spot in the postseason.
The Bears should be 7-1 heading into the back-to-back showdowns with two of the best teams in the NFL, Houston and San Francisco . To maintain their spot at the top of the division, the Bears cannot risk losing any ground going into Week 10 of the regular season.
There is a legitimate possibility that the Bears could lose both of those games to the Texans and 49ers and find themselves at 7-3. That likely puts them even or one game ahead of the Packers. The Packers have the easier part of their schedule over that same time frame, with only the Giants being the team that could hand them their fourth loss.
If the Bears and Packers are even at three losses, then the showdown at Soldier Field will be all the more important. In order to have a shot at winning the division, the Bears will have to stay one game ahead of the Packers and beat Green Bay at home.
Chicago will likely have to finish no worse than 11-5 to win the division and guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs.
The only questionable games remaining on Green Bay's schedule are against the Giants and the Bears. That puts the Packers at 11-5 if they lose those two, with a tiebreaker over the Bears who would need to finish 12-4.
With so many tough teams left on the schedule, the Bears are going to have little room for error to have a shot at winning the division.. Realistically, they should win the rest of their games outside of those three Super Bowl contending teams.
However, the unpredictability of the NFL means the Bears will have to play some of the best football they have played in over six seasons. The road ahead is going to prove once and for all if the 2012 Chicago Bears have the heart and character of a championship football team.