Well, it would seem the Chicago Bears are still alive. And they have one person to thank.
Chicago's season looked like it was in peril when Jay Cutler went down with a concussion in a 13-6 loss to Houston in Week 10. Cutler's long history with head injuries, coupled with the fact that the Bears didn't have an incredibly viable backup option in Jason Campbell, seemed to spell doom for a resurgent Bears team that had a tenuous grip on the NFC North.
And after taking a 32-7 beating from the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11 while Cutler nursed his injury, it was clear that in order to stay a few steps ahead of the Packers and the Vikings, the Bears needed Cutler.
Well, they got him back in Week 12, and Cutler proved just how crucial his impact is to this team. In a resounding 28-10 win over division rival Minnesota, Cutler went 23-for-31 for 188 yards, a touchdown and a pick. He was good enough to get the Bears a win they desperately needed over a team that is now fading in the division; he got them a win they desperately needed as Green Bay continues to threaten in the NFC North.
Now, the Bears are exactly where they want to be: They have their starting QB and the linchpin of their team back in action, and they're still leading the division by a game. They have a winnable matchup coming up as they welcome Seattle to Soldier Field.
The Seahawks may not be a division opponent, but earning a W this week is critical for the Bears. It's important for them to get on a roll with two straight must-wins against at the Vikings and against the Packers coming up afterward. And Seattle, coming off a demoralizing 24-21 loss to the Dolphins, is vulnerable.
The Seahawks once looked like a serious contender in the NFC West, but after dropping three of their last five, things look different. Their defense once ranked atop the league, but it has allowed an average of 19.75 points per game in its last four outings.
It's not a ton of points, but it's something—and Cutler needs to take advantage.
He's not 100 percent yet—that's clear. He doesn't need to be 100 percent against Seattle. He just needs to be good enough. It's going to be up to him to ensure Chicago gets this win, with Devin Hester and Matt Forte most likely out. He's going to have to shoulder the load and put this fading Seahawks D to the test.
Last week, Seattle allowed 435 total yards to the Miami Dolphins, and 246 of those came in the air, courtesy of Ryan Tannehill. With Forte dealing with an ankle injury, Cutler is going to have to rely heavily on his receivers, and he's going to have to cut down on the turnovers, which have haunted him this season.
Against the Vikings, Cutler did exactly what he needed to do: He staked the Bears out to an early 25-3 lead by halftime, and he relied on his defense to hold strong in the second half. If he can once again put Seattle in a hole early in the game, he can rely on his defense to get the job done against Russell Wilson & Co. down the stretch.
If Tannehill can conquer this Seattle defense, there's no reason to believe Cutler can't do it too.
He's just going to have to limit the turnovers—which have been a problem—and if he can do that, he can keep the Bears rolling.