Six field goals — including an incredible 61-yarder with 38 seconds left in the game — boosted the Ravens over the Detroit Lions on MNF. And just like that, the Chicago Bears are all alone atop the NFC North. They now control their own destiny, so if they win their two remaining games, they will take the division title and make the playoffs.
But the 8-6 Bears’ lead over division rival Lions and Green Bay Packers is fragile to say the least. One misstep and Chicago could be back outside looking in, so it’s imperative that they bring their best efforts over the next two weeks. And it’s a tough two weeks to be sure.
Next up for our Bears are the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. Yes, the same Eagles who beat the Lions last week and are also fighting for their own playoff lives.
The Eagles should be angry, coming off a 48-30 drubbing at the hands of Minnesota, as the Vikings used a 21-point fourth quarter to win for just the fourth time this season. Time of possession strongly favored the Vikings in that contest, as they rushed the ball 35 times. And while they only averaged 2.4 yards, they chewed up the clock, while Philly inexplicably chose to run the ball a mere 13 times in the game.
Against the Bears, you can fully expect that plan to change. The Eagles were effective when they did run the ball against Minnesota, making it even harder to understand why they completely ignored the running game. Yes, they fell behind early, but I still believe they will try and exploit the NFL’s worst rushing defense on Sunday night.
While it’s a somewhat improved defense that Chicago will be employing, as the addition of Jeremiah Ratliff and the return of Stephen Paea has helped the run defense, LeSean McCoy has averaged five yards per carry this season, so the Bears will have their hands full.
Speaking of a hand full, QB Nick Foles has thrown 23 TDs vs. just two picks this season, good for a passer rating of 117. DeSean Jackson is coming off a game where he had 10 catches for 195 yards against the Vikings, so the Eagles’ offense is certainly not one dimensional.
But if momentum is a real thing in the NFL, then the Bears should have plenty of it, as Jay Cutler temporarily silenced his critics by recovering from early rust to throw for three TDs and was almost perfect on third down.
Another key for the Bears is the return of the defensive takeaway, as Zach Bowman had two picks. However, they had no sacks on Sunday and will need pressure from the front four to keep Foles in check.
But following the Eagles is the game I am really concerned about, because Aaron Rodgers could be back at the helm for the Packers. We all remember what happened the last time the Bears faced Green Bay on the final game of the season, as the Packers won what was coined a “meaningless” game for the Bears, and parlayed that to a Super Bowl title.
If the Packers hadn’t had an amazing comeback against the Cowboys on Sunday, perhaps Rodgers wouldn’t even be under consideration for a return. However, with the playoffs still possible and the chance to knock out division rival Chicago, you can expect him to suit up if he’s medically cleared.
But in the end, all the Bears must do is win. They do not require help from anyone else. It won’t be easy, but then again, nothing truly worth having ever is easy.
The Bears control their own destiny. And the winds of destiny are blowing in the Bears’ direction, my friends.
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Filed under: Editorial