I'll admit that the final chapter in the Bears season has not yet been written, as the Bears do still have a chance to make the playoffs with a victory and a Minnesota Viking loss. But does anyone actually expect them to survive the first round even if they do make it?
With that question in mind, I feel it's time to take a look at the best and worst moments of the 2012 Bears season before we set our sights on the draft and free agency period. So let's examine one positive moment followed by a not-so-happy moment as we review the Bears season through the first 15 games.
And who knows: perhaps the best is yet to come!
In the first major move of his tenure, new GM Phil Emery made a huge splash with Bears fans by acquiring a true No. 1 wide receiver. What's more, he did it without shaking up the roster or spending money in free agency.
Emery acquired Marshall from Miami for two third-round draft picks in what was a huge steal for Chicago. It's a good thing he did because Marshall was virtually the entire Bears offense through 15 games.
Despite the fact defenses knew that Cutler was going to target him most of the time, Marshall was almost unstoppable, with 113 receptions, 1,466 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns so far. Last week against the Cardinals, Marshall broke Marcus Robinson's single-season franchise record for receiving yards set in 1999.
Marshall is a beast!
Brian Urlacher injured his hamstring in the overtime loss to Seattle on December 2 and, with the injury, the Bears lost more than a football player. They lost their leader and signal caller on defense. While Urlacher had slowed down this season, he is still third in tackles and leads the team in tackles for a loss
There is a chance he could return in the season finale against Detroit.
This one was over before the end of the first quarter. It was a tough game for Tennessee from the get-go, as Tillman stripped the ball on the very first play of the game for the Titans.An end zone penalty against J'Marcus Webb was the only points the Titans could muster as the Bears led 28-2 at the end of the first 15 minutes.
Matt Forte had a big game, averaging 8.6 yards per carry with another 100-yard rushing game and a touchdown. Cutler had a QB rating of 138.1 with three TDs and no interceptions. Marshall caught nine balls for 122 yards and all Bears three touchdown passes.
Meanwhile, the Titans fumbled the ball six times, losing four and Urlacher ran an interception to the house for a score of his own. Charles Tillman forced four fumbles and Corey Wootton also scored a TD on a blocked punt, as the Bears scored their highest point total since 1980.
Even though the Bears had lost to Houston the week before, it was a close game, so the following Monday Night Football matchup against the 49ers was expected to be a good game, especially with unknown QB Colin Kaepernick making his for first start for San Francisco.
But Kaepernick played like Tom Brady, as the Niners had the Bears number, winning 32-7.
He easily outplayed backup QB Jason Campbell, who was starting in Cutler's place while he was recovered from a concussion. Campbell had a 52.7 QB rating vs. Kaepernick's 133.1 rating. They held Marshall to just two catches for 21 yards on four targets.
It was the Niners' defense that stole the show, as defensive end Aldon Smith came up with 5.5 sacks and four tackles a loss and teammate NaVorro Bowman racked up 13 tackles.
Also, the Bears defense had no takeaways in the game.
Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman each returned interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games to set an all-time NFL record. Within a span of just six days, Briggs and Tillman became the first teammates to ever get an interception in the same game two weeks in a row.
They set the mark with 36-yard interception return touchdowns in the Bears 41-3 beat down of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bears third straight win, as Chicago improved to 4-1 on the season.
Chicago scored 38 unanswered points in the victory. It's hard to believe, but this game was 3-3 at the half.
One picture is worth a thousand words.
After losing to Green Bay at Lambeau Field in Week 2, the Bears returned home from Minnesota and lost again to the Packers, by a similar score, this time 21-13.
It was the fifth loss in six games for the Bears and, even worse, the win allowed Green Bay to clinch the division on the Bears home soil.
Although Cutler played better than he did in their first meeting, he threw for just 135 yards tossed another interception, which brought his total up to five in the two Packers losses. Rodgers, on the other hand, threw for 291 yards with no picks.
It seems like an eternity ago, but do you remember when the discussion was whether the Bears defense was as dominant as the '85 Super Bowl team?
Following the thrashing of the Titans in Week 9 of the season, the Bears, who had five takeaways in that game, were leading the NFL in turnovers with 28, an average of 3.5 a game! The defense was allowing just over 13 points per game and ranked third in the league with 28 sacks.
The Bears lost at home against the Texans, but the main story was the concussion suffered by Jay Cutler.
Cutler threw two interceptions and Arian Foster ran for 102 yards and had a TD catch as Houston beat the Bears 13-6.
The Bears came into the game with a plus-16 turnover ratio but Houston beat Chicago at their own game with four takeaways.
But it was the hit by Tim Dobbins, who drove his helmet into Cutler late in the second quarter, that added insult to injury. Dobbins was called for unnecessary roughness on the hit.
Former Bear Danieal Manning came back to haunt his old teammates, as he forced a fumble and an interception.
The lone bright spot for the Bears was Tim Jennings, who had two picks against Matt Schaub. While Marshall had 107 yards receiving on 8 catches, he dropped a TD in the end zone. Defensive end Shea McClellin also suffered a concussion.
I'd like to end this slideshow on a positive note, so let's finish with the Bears win against a bad Cardinals team. With the win, the Bears stayed alive in the Wild Card race.
They need to beat Detroit on Sunday and then need the Packers to beat Minnesota in order to make the postseason.
Once again, the defense came to the rescue, as Tillman and Zack Bowman each scored TDs and the Bears won 28-13. Julius Peppers also had three sacks. Although Cutler completed just one of his first 11 pass attempts, Forte ran for 88 yards on 12 carries.