Bears win two straight, but what now?
In the last two games the Chicago Bears have shown some serious heart and did so with two straight come backs. Jay Cutler looked much more like the leader the organization, and the fans, have been waiting so patiently for. However, there are a lot of things to consider with the Bears, and their opponents, when breaking down these wins. Lets break down both games and see exactly what each win means, and then lets talk about some realistic expectations following in the future weeks.
Game 4 vs Oakland Raiders:
The game was certainly a nail biter right down to the end. No doubt that Gould was the man of the hour with a last second 49 yard field goal, but Jay Cutler lead the way there with some terrific play making. The 4th and 5 shotgun pass to Bennett was the exact sort of leadership that Cutler needs to show while under pressure. If he can continue that then he can surely win over some of the Cutler critics. The last quarter 2 minute drill was impressive, but what does the overall win actually mean? Well, the Oakland Raiders are just shy of being right in the middle of the league defensively. Depending on who you are talking to, they are ranked right around the 17-18 range in the league (overall defense). Taking a first look at that doesn’t look too terribly impressive… unless you take a second to dig a little deeper. While the Oakland Raiders don’t scare too many teams with their pass protection, the situation with Chicago was quite different. First off, the Raiders did a pretty good job against Forte. His overall yards were pretty good, but they did keep him without a TD. Secondly, the Bears were without the draft rookie (White) and without their star (Jeffery). Not to mention, Cutler was just coming back from an injury and it’s always tough to get back in the rhythm. All in all, especially with the lack of receivers, I think the win was very solid. It’s one of those games that gives you your confidence back and gets you out of your 0-3 funk.
Game 5 @ Kansas City Chiefs:
Another game for the Bears that went down to the wire. A last second reverse call by the refs put the Chiefs way out of range for their FG attempt (65 yards). I got the pleasure of actually getting to watch the game at Arrowhead Stadium in KC and allow me to be the first to tell you that was not a single Chiefs fan that understood why they went for that FG. Instead of a hail mary, the Chiefs decided to go for a record-breaking FG that simply never had a chance, but that is a story for another time and another article. The Bears just won their second game in a row on a last second play. However, this time Cutler didn’t have to hand off their fate to a kicker, he got to handle it himself. With about 18 seconds on the clock Cutler threw a beautiful pass to Matt Forte and all of a sudden the Bears were up 18-17. I wish I had more nice things to say about the Bears in this win, but I really don’t. Defense was mediocre and probably would have been torn to shreds if it weren’t for the unfortunate ACL tear for Charles. I say that because it is realistic and the Bears were losing 17-3. I wish I could say that the Bears out played the Chiefs, but that would be lying. The bottom line is that the Bears caught a lucky break (no pun intended, I’m a big fan of Charles) and beat a team that was already hurting with a 1-3 record. To me, the Chiefs beat themselves due to their lack of a passing game. They rely far too heavily on Charles and without him they were lost. The silver lining here is still, however, in favor of the Bears. No matter what the Chiefs did or didn’t do, the Bears saw an opportunity and capitalized on it very well. I chalk this win up to mostly luck, but a win is a win and they are never easy to get away from home.
Realistic Record prediction:
Lets start off by saying “Yes, I am a Bears fan”. Now that we have that out-of-the-way, I assure you I can pick a prediction and not be bias about it. I won’t break down every single why and how, but I believe the Bears can still finish this season fairly strong. I am confident that they can get at least 6 more wins and that would put them at a respectable 8-8. Typically an 8-8 schedule wouldn’t be considered respectable, but the injuries the Bears have had to deal with would make that an amazing year. Let us not forget that they also have a brand new coach and that takes time to adjust. However, with that said, John Fox was the same man who benched Orton for a very young Tebow and managed to turn around and not only make the playoffs, but even win a game. 8-8 is my worst case scenario… a few surprising wins against some of the stronger teams could give them up to 10.
Paul Hickman covers the Chicago Bears for MFSt, you can follow the site on Twitter @MyFntsySprtsTlk