As the league roars down the home stretch of the regular season, the Bears
As of right now, the Bears will more than likely head into the postseason as the three seed. While possible, the prospect of playing on wild-card weekend should be motivation enough for the Rams to drop the 49ers, even if it does end a little closer than it should. Even without MVP candidate Todd Gurley, the Rams still snapped the Cardinals 31-9. San Francisco should be no different.
For the Bears, they will be traveling to Minnesota for a desperate Vikings team a single loss from slipping from the playoff picture. Though they still hold a half-game(?) lead over the storming Eagles, this game almost counts as a must-win seeing as Philadelphia lucked out with the Josh Johnson-led Redskins as their ultimate competition. Considering the inspired football dripping from the resurging Eagles and the playoff spot on the line, it would be difficult to imagine Nick Foles doesn’t come up huge in this one. The Vikings, on the other hand, may see the playoffs slip between their fingers.
While Chicago seemed sluggish against the 49ers, almost as if their attention had turned to the playoffs (kind of interesting to think the Bears haven’t had this trap presented to them in a very long time but an important lesson to play through December nonetheless), this upcoming tilt has too many ramifications to just throw in the towel early. Last time these squads met, the Bears steadily choked out the Vikings in prime time as Kirk Cousins turned in one of his worst performances of the season. Though the final score ended 25-20, two of those Vikings touchdowns came in garbage time with the Bears up a commanding 22-6.
The rematch may and probably will be just as smothering, especially with this much left on the line. After all, what better way to end your best season in almost a decade by booting your division rivals from the postseason, especially against a team that ended last season one win from the Super Bowl. Though this will be an away game without the Soldier Field in prime time atmosphere, the divisional implications will be a fine replacement.
However, as backward as this sounds, beating the Vikings may set up the worst first-round matchup for the Bears, assuming both the Eagles and Rams win as they should. Pinning the Vikings would spell Philadelphia coming to Chicago and this will be the most difficult opening opponent for the Bears. Remember, the Eagles stood atop the entire league last season, and despite the heavy injuries to the run game and secondary, still pack enough offensive firepower really because of Foles to go toe-to-toe with any team, including the Bears. Foles’ redemption tour should be nothing the Bears nor any team for that matter want apart of.
The mythical spirit and the Hollywood-esque chip on the shoulder that powered Philadelphia to their Super Bowl victory have stormed back and they may just be the most dangerous team in the NFC going into the postseason. Already toppling the Rams, the Bears would need peak performance from the defense to avoid upset from the Eagles. Home-field advantage, but an unmistakable one with playoff football returning to Soldier Field,
While not to preach intentional losing to manipulate the playoff scenarios to become more favorable, the Bears “accidentally” blowing this one would be the best case scenario. The Vikings already crumbled at Soldier Field and, under the immense pressure of playoff football against one of the most well-equipped rosters in the NFC, have no reason to believe they can in January. Above all, the Bears snagged the three seed for very good reason and can tussle with the elite of the league, so handling business in the first round against the sixth seed should be a given.
Philadelphia should similarly struggle when coming to Chicago, purely due to the defensive domination they and any team potentially will face. The Bears greatest strength matches up well with the titans of the NFC, being able to lock down the explosive offenses at play. Slowing down the game employing a barrage of Jordan Howard will be the key and so long as the defense delivers, the Bears don’t have much to worry about. Only inexperience will end this season prematurely.