Are Chicago Bears' Playoff Hopes Doomed Without Jay Cutler?

Lou Rom@louromliveContributor INovember 16, 2012

Nov 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) rushes the ball against the Houston Texans during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Jay Cutler's status for Monday night's matchup against NFC rival San Francisco remains in doubt and his team's playoff future could become more clouded if he does not return to the starting lineup soon.

Cutler has solidified the quarterback position in Chicago, especially since his old Denver teammate Brandon Marshal joined him in Chi-Town.

But today's Monsters of the Midway still play on the other side of the ball, especially with the Bears leading the league in turnover differential and, if there were such a stat, scaredy-cat-wideouts.

The Bears hit so hard they knock teams into next week.

Cutler, who has completed 59 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, has been sporadic for the Bears—hot one week, cold the next.

Cutler is no doubt the leader on offense in Chicago, but it's what happens on defense that matters most. 

Led by guys like Mike Singletary and then Brian Urlacher for years, the Chicago Bears now boast a ball-hungry defense led by Julius Peppers and cornerback Charles Tillman.

Chicago can field a jayvee quarterback and still make the playoffs. A solid redshirt college freshman could get them into the NFC Championship game.

After Monday's matchup, the 7-2 Bears play Minnesota twice in three weeks and then host the Seahawks and Packers before finishing the year on the road against the Cardinals and Lions.

The only team among them that could threaten to score more than 14 points on this defense is the Packers. 

With or without Cutler the Bears could easily finish 12-4. Backup Jason Campbell is a solid backup, who has won several games as a starter for both the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins.

In fact, Campbell, on a good day, is better than Cutler on a bad day—and Cutler, in all his greatness, has a lot of bad days.

So, Bears fans, relax. Your playoff appearance is all but assured.

And if your defense keeps playing like this then a return to the Super Bowl, maybe for a second shot at Peyton Manning—how good a storyline would that be?—isn't out of the question.