Chicago Bears: After Dismantling Lions, Bears Now Focused on Wild Card

Todd Thorstenson@@Thor1323Analyst INovember 16, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 13: Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears sacks Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears taught the Detroit Lions a little lesson in humility last Sunday by thrashing them 37-13 at Soldier Field.

The Lions, who have been a surprise this season, may have had this coming.

There's no doubt that they are a talented team, but they and head coach Jim Schwartz have rubbed many people the wrong way.

They are gaining a reputation for playing dirty and for doing a lot of talking—which is fine if you can back it up.

In the first meeting between the two teams in Detroit on Monday Night Football, the Lions took it to the Bears and handed them a 24-13 loss, which gave the Lions a 5-0 record.

However, since then the Lions have gone 1-3, and are starting to come down to earth.

With the victory, the Bears not only won their fourth consecutive game, but are now tied for second with the Lions in the division with a 6-3 record.

This win was huge for the Bears because they now control their destiny in the wild card race.

The Bears and Lions are currently the leaders for the two wild card spots, which is their only shot at reaching the playoffs because no one is going to catch the Green Bay Packers.

Honestly, right now the only other teams that are really in the hunt for the wild card are the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons, which are both 5-4.  And the Bears have already beaten the Falcons, which gives them the tiebreaker against them.

You could make a case that Tampa Bay is still in the hunt at 4-5, but with their recent play, it doesn't seem likely.

In other words, the Bears are in good shape.  Now, they just need to take care of business.

The schedule is actually pretty favorable for the Bears, which now have four straight games against teams in the AFC West.  The only winning team in that division is the Oakland Raiders at 5-4, while the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs all sit at 4-5.

Other than playing the entire AFC West division the Bears have remaining games against the 3-6 Seattle Seahawks, the undefeated Packers on Christmas Day, and the 2-7 Minnesota Vikings on New Years Day.

So the schedule sets up pretty nicely, but nothing is guaranteed.

The Bears have been playing well lately.  However, the road did get a little tougher after the Lions game on Sunday when they found out that starting left guard Chris Williams will miss the remainder of the season with a broken wrist.

This injury comes at a time when the much maligned offensive line was just starting to find its groove after playing well in recent weeks.

Add the fact that rookie tackle Gabe Carimi is still out recovering from knee surgery and the Bears offensive line continues to be like a game of musical chairs.

Edwin Williams looks like he'll start at left guard, and hopefully can do a serviceable job in place of Chris Williams. 

It remains to be seen if and when Carimi will be back.  Lately, the thought has been that even if Carimi was ready to go, he may not have a spot to come back to because the line was playing so well.  Now, the Bears may need him back sooner than they thought depending on how Edwin Williams plays.

Bottom line:  If the Bears defense can keep playing at their current level, and the offense can withstand the injuries to the offensive line, the Bears look to be in good shape heading into the stretch run.

The next test will be the Chargers on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Time to bear down, Chicago Bears.