Chicago Bears Need To Wake Up and Smell the Playoffs

Kevin MurphyContributor IDecember 16, 2010

Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears leave Soldier Field dejected after a 36-7 loss to the New England Patriots.
Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears leave Soldier Field dejected after a 36-7 loss to the New England Patriots.

While it's hard to take positives from a 36-7 beating administered by the now Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots, there is one thing that the Chicago Bears players and coaching staff can take away from an otherwise dismal Week 14: the Green Bay Packers also lost.

Yes, you read that right, Bears fans. While you and I were watching Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense butcher the Bears on their home field, it was easy to forget that the Packers had just laid an egg in Detroit, losing the game and their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the process. This keeps Green Bay one game behind the Bears at 8-5. Even more important than that, however, is this: Green Bay's division record is now 3-2 to the Bears 4-0. 

It might be hard to think positive after being beaten so thoroughly by a team that could be a Super Bowl opponent, but let's be honest here. The Bears locker room, let alone their fans, can't possibly be looking that far ahead at this point. Who's to say that Chicago will get to the Super Bowl anyhow? Let's not worry about the Patriots again until it's time to worry about the Patriots again. If the Bears want another crack at Brady & Co., then they need to win two or three playoff games first...and get to the playoffs before that.

The good thing is that first goal is well within reach. The Bears' remaining schedule is as such: at Minnesota (5-8), home versus the New York Jets (9-4) and then at Green Bay. Beating Minnesota, who will likely be starting a third-string quarterback and will be without the comfortable confines of the Metrodome, should be very doable.

The Jets are a tougher task to be sure. However, the Jets are struggling offensively and are rattled from a bad loss to Miami after being roughed up by the Patriots (who else?) the week before, not to mention a strength coach that deserves to be fired after the stunt he pulled. 

Green Bay has a tougher schedule the rest of the way. Before ending their season against the Bears at home, they have the Patriots (11-2) in New England and then the New York Giants (9-4) at home. Both of these games pose huge challenges to a Packers team that may be without Rodgers for at least a week, not to mention a run defense that couldn't stop Curtis Enis if they tried. Stopping the Patriots, who are salivating at the possibility of clinching their division this week with a Jets loss, and the Giants' high-powered running game are very tall tasks indeed.

With that in mind, the Bears need to leave last week's debacle behind and focus on what's in front of them. Chicago could clinch the NFC North this week with a win and a Packers loss, and even if Green Bay manages to knock off the Patriots in New England, a win against Minnesota assures the division for the Bears, should there be a tie in the standings at the end of the season. However, if Chicago can't stop thinking about the thrashing they received last week, a struggling Vikings team which is looking to play spoiler may add to their worries.

So stop thinking about the Patriots, Chicago. You still control your own destiny. Win and you're in.