Chicago Bears' Good Fortune Has Limits—or Does It?
The Indianapolis Colts have a horseshoe on the side of their helmets. The Chicago Bears this year have one stuck up their, well, you know. Certainly teams can make some of their good fortune, and good teams are those who take advantage of good fortune.
With this in mind, do not consider this a suggestion that the Bears are a fluke. They have plenty of talent, have had good coaching this season and beat both the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles—no minor accomplishment. They have had breaks and have capitalized. But there's a difference between a few breaks and something good happening at virtually every single turn. Good fortune hasn't just smiled on the Bears—it has given them a bear hug.
Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson had the infamous "did not complete the process of the catch" in the end zone in the opener which allowed the Bears to escape an embarrassing defeat in a game they completely dominated. They benefited from a Green Bay record 18 penalties as the Packers self-destructed in a Monday night game. They came off the Giants loss needing to rebound in a big way and didn't have quarterback Jay Cutler due to a concussion. So who should be up next on their schedule? Impotent Carolina, without wide receiver Steve Smith.
They benefited against Buffalo when the Bills inexplicably tried for a long ball when owning a two-point fourth-quarter lead—quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick badly underthrew his receiver for the interception by Tim Jennings that turned around the game. Due to injuries they faced third string quarterbacks in Miami, against Detroit and may very well see one this week because of Brett Favre's shoulder injury and Tarvaris Jackson's turf toe. They beat an Eagles team that didn't have injured cornerback Asante Samuel, the NFL interception leader at the time.
When they lost badly to the Patriots Sunday in what they had hoped would be the final proof that they are legit, the Bears still came away big winners. Detroit upset Green Bay for a divisional defeat that drove a stake right into the heart of the Packers' playoff chances.
Against Minnesota there's a chance the Bears might not have to face injured running back Adrian Peterson, and even if they do, it will be a week following the Vikings' elimination from the playoff chase. It's a Viking team without incentive, and now the game is going to be outside, something that can't possibly favor the dome-bound Vikings, even if they are at home and celebrating their 50th anniversary as a team.
Probably the luckiest aspect for the Bears has been their ability to remain virtually injury-free. Unlike in 2009 when Brian Urlacher went down for the season at halftime of the opener, they have had no serious season-ending or even long-term injuries. Linebacker Lance Briggs missed a few games with an ankle sprain and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa has been out two games due to a knee injury. Early in the season they lost tackle Chris Williams to a hamstring pull and guard Roberto Garza a few weeks due to a knee injury, but that's been the extent of their injuries.
No team with Julius Peppers, Urlacher and Briggs on defense can be called lucky to be in the playoff chase. Yet, these breaks just keep on falling the Bears' way. Now they can win the division title and avoid a final week showdown in Green Bay for a playoff spot simply by beating Minnesota, as long as Tom Brady wins in New England for the 27th straight time on Sunday. They will be playing a Packers team that likely will be using inexperienced Matt Flynn at quarterback.
Eventually the breaks will stop coming, right? Probably in the playoffs? Good always beats lucky in the playoffs, right? After what's happened so far, though, it's probably best not to make a wager on this.
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