With three more divisional games coming up, as well as two more conference games, the Chicago Bears are in control of their own destiny.
It's not an easy schedule, but they're ahead of most of the rest of the NFC, and that cushion should help. However, with the offensive line banged up, they're going to have to be extra careful down the stretch.
What the Bears face is very similar to what the Packers face: a banged-up and shaky offensive line that will not be getting better soon and cannot be cured by signing free agents.
Over the next few weeks, that line will be tested. And how it reacts to the playmakers in Seattle, Minnesota, Green Bay, Detroit and Arizona—all of whom have solid defenses—will make the difference. Because as much as the Bears has a cushion now, it will be gone very quickly if they cannot protect Jay Cutler.
Of course, aside from the offensive line, the pressure comes down to Mike Tice. The Bears' offensive coordinator hasn't exactly had a great season, and before this past weekend, it was starting to sound as if he might lose his job by the end of 2012.
It's on Tice to scheme a solution for the offensive line issues. So far this year, the offensive line hasn't made the strides forward we were promised. That makes the current situation a little more shaky. After all, if he couldn't get the 100-percent-healthy line working, can we trust him to do so with one that has been racked with injuries?
Tice has in his favor a tremendous defense, two potent running backs, one of the best receivers in the game and an excellent quarterback. If he can get the line working well—as he did against the Vikings—we know the offense can move the chains and score points.
The Bears are in a good position right now, and if they can overcome the injury woes facing them, a strong showing in the playoffs is very much possible.
They need to get past the last five games with Cutler intact, though. So it's time for Tice and the line to show the quality of play and play-calling we've been wanting to see all year.
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