Now is not the time for the Chicago Bears to rest upon the laurels of an 8-3 start to the 2010 season. Brad Biggs knows it. David Haugh knows it. It took the Bears only three plus hours on Sunday afternoon to convince a majority of the national football pundits that they are a legitimate contender for not only the NFC North crown but for the whole of the conference. It would take no more than a dud-of-a-performance in Detroit this Sunday to have those same pundits, and the ones working at the dailies in Chicago, to take a Carl Edwards-eque backflip off the bandwagon.
The Bears have their first four-game win streak in four years. They also have their first legitimate Super Bowl contender since that time. The 2006 Bears, however, were not playing their best football heading into December. They played their best football over the first eight weeks of the season, let Joey Harrington embarrass them at Soldier Field, limped to the finish line and struggled mightily in their playoff home opener. The 2010 Bears seem to be improving each week. Solid against Buffalo. Controlling against Minnesota. Dominant defensively against Miami. Exciting and balanced against Philadelphia. Now come the well-rested but not good Detroit Lions. This must be the week the Bears complete the picture.
What does that mean? The Lions – even in their struggles – have one of the best defensive lines in the game. The Bears still have one definitive (if lightening) weakness: the offensive line. This needs to be the week Mike Tice and company keep Jay Cutler clear in the sacks column. The Lions – whole awful – have Calvin Johnson and Calvin Johnson owns the Chicago Bears. This needs to be the week he is stranded on Peanut Island.
If Lovie Smith’s Bears can lay the hammer down Sunday and knockoff the Detroit Lions, they will begin their most difficult stretch on a confident drive to the postseason and not holding on to the edge of the playoffs cliff. There are no lucky or unearned wins in the NFL and a 24-21 overtime escape in Detroit won’t keep me from sleeping Sunday night. But a 41-13 would announce them as what they may possibly be: a great a football team.