Jay Cutler Injury: Chicago Bears Preparing to Face the Rest of the AFC West

Derek CrouseContributor IIINovember 21, 2011

Who will Hanie and Martz look to for an answer on the offensive end?
Who will Hanie and Martz look to for an answer on the offensive end?Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

By now everybody knows about the loss of Jay Cutler for at least the regular season. While losing your best offensive player (besides Matt Forte) will bring any fan to their knees, Bears fans need to have a little more confidence in their roster.

Currently, Chicago has a 7-3 record, which ties them with the Detroit Lions and would place them in one of the two NFC Wild Card spots if the season ended today. Even before Cutler’s thumb was injured, the Green Bay Packers were leaps and bounds ahead of everybody in the NFC from a record and consistency standpoint.

This might be the best possible group of games for the Bears to have right now. Facing the rest of the AFC West after the bittersweet win against the Chargers could prove to keep them in the playoff hunt.

The next opponent is probably the most difficult of the three. The Bears will go on the road to face the Oakland Raiders.

Despite the passing of Al Davis, it seems that the Raiders are still taking risks on potential. Picking up Carson Palmer off of the golf course and putting him back on the field was surprising considering all of the draft picks Oakland gave up for his services.

The biggest challenge is not the Raiders themselves, it's Caleb Hanie playing without much experience in this type of environment. The last time he made a serious play was in the NFC Championship game.

For a new quarterback, going on the road to the Black Hole in Oakland will make or break him. This will be a learning experience, no doubt.

The Kansas City Chiefs have had a bit of the injury bug this year. They recently lost Matt Cassel, and Jamaal Charles was out by the second week of the season.

Kansas City is now pushing Tyler Palko out under center to throw to the likes of Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster. If the Bears can use Matt Forte effectively against the Chiefs, this game should be a win at Soldier Field.

Hopefully Mike Martz realizes that now that Hanie is in, Forte will have to be used more than ever.

In Week 14 the Bears head to Jay Cutler’s old stomping grounds to face the Denver Broncos. This game was supposed to be about Cutler’s homecoming, but now Tim Tebow will likely be the big headline.

Even though Tebow has an awful throwing motion and no pocket presence, John Fox has adapted the offense to his strengths and weaknesses. The defense has also stepped up, especially its linebacking corps.

If Denver keeps winning games with triple-options and Wildcat plays, the Bears defense could have a field day when they head to the Mile High City.

Unlike the aggressive play of the 3-4 defense the New York Jets wield, the Bears play a bend-but-don’t-break defense. This could keep Tebow at bay in the pocket. With Julius Peppers moving from the inside to the outside, it could create turnovers if Tebow has to make passes and can't scramble for first downs.

Facing all four AFC West teams in a row is a godsend for the Bears. After those four games, they go on to face the Seahawks, who are in the NFC West, which is another pathetic division. Fans honestly could be looking at having a 10-3 record heading into Week 15!

Just remember that everything goes through Green Bay if they keep up their dominant play.