First and Long: Dissecting Chicago’s Playoff Chances, Offense Clicking Since Trubisky’s Return, Potential Top Draft Pick Could Spurn Jets

The path to the playoffs is a difficult one for the Bears and that wretched loss to the Lions a few weeks ago may be something that comes back to haunt them in the coming weeks. First and foremost, Chicago will have to beat the Vikings on the road this Sunday. More on that in a bit.

If Matt Nagy and his squad can somehow pull off the improbable and win this weekend, and then beat the Jaguars and Packers on the following two Sundays, they still have just an 89% shot of earning the final Wild Card seed, per FiveThirtyEight’s simulator. In addition to winning out, Chicago would need the Cardinals to lose at least one game against the Eagles, 49ers, or Rams. That would guarantee the Bears a ticket to the dance and a first round matchup against the No. 2 seed, likely the Packers or Saints.

If the Bears finish 8-8, the simulator gives them a 35% chance of sneaking in and, believe it or not, a possibility exists that Chicago can back into the postseason with a 7-9 record. That could happen as long as one of those wins comes against Minnesota. In that scenario, the Monsters of the Midway would need both the Cardinals and Vikings to lose three straight. Minnesota would finish at 6-10 and the Bears would win the tiebreaker over the 7-9 Cardinals.

With all that in mind, any dalliance with a potential spot in this year’s playoffs starts and ends in Minnesota on Sunday. The Vikings are favored by 2.5 and FiveThirtyEight gives the Bears a 42% chance of winning. The Bears will need another “complementary effort,” if not a complete one, and need to find a way to stop Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Kirk Cousins. It will be Khalil Mack and the defense, not Mitch Trubisky and all of his offensive weapons, that brings home a victory.

The good news is, the defense should step up against the Vikings. Cousins has been sacked 10 times in the last two games, including six last weekend, and the Bears are coming off a 7-sack effort of their own. They’ve also shut down Cook pretty well over the past two seasons. limiting the NFL’s No. 2 rusher to 131 yards on 41 carries in the teams’ last three meetings.

On offense, Trubisky and David Montgomery are playing at the tops of their games. The QB has completed 67.3% of his passes with seven touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 100 passer rating since returning to a starting role. Montgomery leads all NFL rushers with a 7.38 yards per carry average over the past three weeks, rushing for 288 yards on 39 attempts with three scores.

I’ve been down on the Bears, but I think a road-dog upset is not out of the question. The players seem to be united in saving Nagy’s job, showed last week that they’ve certainly not given up on the season.

Bears News & Notes

There’s a Flag…On the Play

That a team with a 4-9 record has a shot at winning their division is the very definition of one of the oddest seasons in the history of the NFL.

Northern Exposure

Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust

  1. Trubisky is 110 yards shy of 10,000 passing yards in his career so far. He’d become the fastest to get there for a player who began his career with the Bears.
  2. With two dimes last night, Chargers QB Justin Herbert tied the NFL record for the most passing TDs by a rookie with 27.
  3. After last night’s 30-27 OT win, the Chargers are now 3-7 in one-possession games this season.

Around the League

NFL fans will be treated to Saturday football this weekend with two schedule games. The Bills will take on the Broncos in a matinee tilt, and the Packers will host the Panthers in prime time.

The Bills could break a 25-year divisional drought by clincing the AFC East with a win against the Broncos.

The Saints were all set to draft QB Patrick Mahomes in 2017 before the Chiefs picked them off.

After last night’s loss to the Chargers, Raiders fans are blaming Jon Gruden for the team’s lack of success over the last few seasons. The embattled head coach is 18-28 since taking over the Raiders in 2018.

Five Rams players, including safety Nick Scott, were absent from practice yesterday after an unidentified teammate tested positive for COVID-19.

Projected top draft pick Trevor Lawrence of Clemson could spurn the Jets if New York intends to select the quarterback No. 1 overall. Like Peyton Manning in 1997, Lawrence could leverage one more year of eligibility instead of declaring for the NFL draft.


Remember when Cam Newton got the best of Clay Matthews? Good times.

At the Podium

  • “I’m a fan of Mitch Trubisky. I think he has been over-coached. How many people do you want in your ear telling you things when you just want to go out there and play? Chicago has never been a friendly quarterback town.”Mike Tomczak
  • “I know exactly what I want, I’m driven, I’m bringing a certain presence and energy to the facility every day that my teammates can feed off of, and I just know what I need to do on a daily basis to help this team.” – Mitch Trubisky

Today’s Halftime Entertainment

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by George Michael & Elton John – Need to win them one at a time, sorry for the tired sports cliche.

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