With a 7-1 record and a defense that is drawing historical comparisons to the greats of the past, the Chicago Bears are well on their way to the NFL Playoffs.
The Bears took care of business against overmatched opponents in the first half of their schedule, but the second leg of the race to the postseason will be much tougher than the first.
Critics of Lovie Smith's squad have pointed to the weak schedule as the reason for the Bears' dominance in the prior weeks, but now they will be given an opportunity to turn the doubters into believers. Prime-time matchups with the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers will be a great litmus test for one of the league's elite teams.
While the defense has been stellar, the offense—aside from the Cutler-to-Marshall connection—could use some improvement for the Bears to keep a choke hold on first place in the NFC North. In addition, aspiring for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage is not out of the question, despite the Atlanta Falcons' unblemished record.
So what must the Bears do to have the best record in the conference? Will they retain their lead over their rival the Green Bay Packers?
Here is what the home-stretch will look like for the Bears.