About fifteen minutes before kickoff of the Bears versus Patriots debacle in the amazing setting that was a snowy Soldier Field, the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers and handed our Wisconsin rivals their second loss in the NFC North. As I walked over to to meet Shady and Noah at our seats in Section 120 I heard not one but several fans utter the same phrase. “That makes this game meaningless now.” To a certain extent, that sentiment was true and the Chicago Bears certainly played like it. (Side note: Shady did the bloggers quite proud yesterday. A good, good dude.)
Yesterday’s game against the New England Patriots did not mean anything in terms of breaking ties for a division crown or wild card appearance. Yesterday was an opportunity to see if the Bears were elite. And guess what? They’re not. This is not a doomsday moment, not the end of the world. The Bears don’t have to beat the Patriots to make it to Dallas in February. They’ll have to beat Atlanta or New Orleans or Philadelphia. Each of those games could go either way, depending on location and whether Mr. Smith has decided to prepare his defense that week. (Apparently he was unaware the Pats like to throw underneath Wes Welker and the tight ends and thinks you should run man-coverage with no time left in the half. Seriously Lovie…way to mail that one in.) The Bears are as good as any team in their conference. They are not as good as the best team in the NFL.
The Packers shocking loss to the Lions yesterday, coupled with Aaron Rodgers suffering his second concussion this season, means the cheese must now go into New England Sunday night and win to prevent the Bears from having an opportunity to win the division title next week in Minnesota (or Detroit or wherever the game is played). The loss also means that the three preseason NFC favorites – Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay – might all miss the postseason altogether. Talk about a parlay that could have financed your retirement.
Yesterday the Bears delivered a horrible performance but I’ll temper your rage with this: if I had the choice between a Bears win or a Packers loss, I would have taken the Packers loss. I made my yearly pilgrimage to Soldier Field this weekend and sat in the storm of storms and I still would have chosen a Packers loss. The Packers losing means the Bears route to the postseason is now clear and far easier than any of us expected. The Packers were looking to Week Seventeen as their opportunity to ascend to the top of the division. They were looking to find redemption for an early-season loss. Now they must beat Brady where nobody beats Brady. It’s Brady or bust for the Packers.
Bust seems likely. And it accurately describes the over-hyped Green Bay Packers.