Things weren't looking too bright after a winless preseason, but the Chicago Bears fortunes sure have changed since.
Already having the No. 2 seed and a bye locked up thanks to a shocking win by the undermanned Minnesota Vikings against the Philadelphia Eagles on the NFL's first Tuesday night game, the Bears are in position this weekend to grab the No.1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Why not? Everything that can go right has for this year's edition of the Chicago Bears.
It started out in week one, when a certain loss turned into victory against the Detroit Lions when Calvin Johnson caught what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown, only to have the call overruled by an interpretation of what constitutes a catch.
Week 2 saw the Bears overcome early jitters and an all-out blitz against Jay Cutler to beat one of the teams favored to appear in the Super Bowl, the Dallas Cowboys. Of course Dallas turned out to be a fraud, but nobody knew that at the time.
The Bears beat their hated rival in Week 3 when the Green Bay Packers had a record 18 penalties for 152 yards, costing them two touchdowns and the game.
All illusions of an undefeated season came to rest against the New York Giants, when they ran a jailbreak on QB Jay Cutler with 9 sacks in the first half and knocked him out of the game with a concussion.
Fortunately they had the hapless Carolina Panthers on their schedule the next week. With Cutler sitting out, Todd Collins was running the show, and the Bears survived despite four picks against him. Fortunately the Panthers had rookie Jimmy Clausen behind center, and he looked like anything but a first round draft pick (he fell to the second round), and couldn't take advantage of the Bears' turnovers.
The Seahawks stunned the Bears the next week at Soldier Field, as they were anything but "Sleepless in Seattle." The Bears didn't show up ready to play, and lost a game that was earmarked for the win column.
Coach Lovie Smith's ineptitude in challenges came to the forefront in another home loss, this time to the Washington Redskins. Smith challenged a spot on an Earl Bennett reception early in the second half, arguing it should have been a touchdown.
His challenge was denied, and on the very next play, it looked like a quarterback sneak by Cutler netted a touchdown. The ruling on the field said he didn't get in (in perhaps the only case of bad luck they had all year), and Lovie decided not to risk throwing a flag on consecutive plays. The replays showed Cutler crossed the goal line, and Smith was now 8-25 in challenges since 2008.
The bye week came at just the right time for the Bears as they were reeling from those two home losses in games they should have won.
Next on the table were the winless Buffalo Bills, playing in Toronto instead of their home field in Buffalo. With more Bear fans in attendance than those rooting for the Bills, the Bears eked out a three point victory.
Minnesota was the perfect foil for the Bears as coach Brad Childress had just jettisoned Randy Moss the previous week, and his owner was thinking of firing him for not consulting with him on the deal. The Vikings clearly didn't want to play for him and it showed on the field as the Bears easily beat them.
Tyler Thigpen, another third stringer, quarterbacked for the Miami Dophins on a Thursday night game. He proved to be a very capable tackling dummy, but not a very good quarterback as his team was shutout 16-0 and his career record as a starter fell to 1-11.
The Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to be perhaps the first real test for the Bears since the Packers, and they passed with flying colors, despite winning by only five points. Of course, the league leader in interceptions, Asante Samuel (seven), was out with an injury.
You could say the Bears were lucky, because Cutler had no picks in the game, but I prefer to think of it as coincidence, just like all of the other injuries that have happened to Bear opponents this year when it is time to play Chicago.
Detroit was next on the schedule, and the Bears faced another third stringer starting at quarterback in Drew Stanton, making only his second start in four seasons. The Bears outlasted Detroit 24-20, in part thanks to a questionable call against Naomukong Suh that led to the Bears winning score.
New England came into Chicago after trouncing the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. On a snowy field, the score was 33-0 Patriots at halftime. They took the foot off the gas pedal in the second half with the game not in doubt, or this could have gotten really ugly.
This was perhaps the only really good team they played in a very weak league this year, and they showed the Bears just how far away they are from being an elite team.
It was back to business as usual in game 14 as the Bears faced the Vikings again, this time at the Minnesota Golden-Gophers stadium instead of the Metrodome, a venue the Bears had lost seven of their last eight games in.
Brett Favre started despite not practicing and supposedly being listed as 'out' for the game, until he was really out when Bears rookie Corey Wootton knocked him possibly into retirement, finally. Third-stringer Joe Webb came in and finished the game in a blowout for the Bears.
Last week the Bears faced the New York Jets the week after starting quarterback Mark Sanchez had an MRI on his throwing arm. He started and played well, but the Bears outasted them 38-34.
The Bears most hated rival is on the docket this week in a game that meant a lot more before Tuesday night's loss by the Eagles to the Vikings.
To keep the good mojo going, the Packers have nine starters out for the game.
Green Bay is playing for their playoff life, while the Bears are still hoping for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and losses by Atlanta and New Orleans.
As I mentioned earlier, I expect nothing less to happen for the seemingly charmed Bears.
I also expect them to be playing the winner of the NFC West in their first playoff game, either the St.Louis Rams who would end up .500 with a victory, or the Seattle Seahawks, who at best would be 7-9.
Of course the winner of that game Sunday would probably be playing the Saints in wild-card week, but the way things have laid out for the Bears this year, they won't be playing New Orleans.
I don't normally believe in destiny, but if I were a key player on a team playing the Bears in the playoffs, I would make sure I had my health insurance paid up.
I would also stay away from trains, planes, and automobiles, because nothing can derail "Destiny's Darlings."
Yes, that's right for those non-believers; I'm predicting the Bears will be in Dallas on Super Bowl Sunday.
That's because I stuck my foot in my mouth a few weeks back agreeing to have a Super Bowl party at my house if the Bears are in it.
I've never been very lucky, but fortunately for the Bears, they are.