Unless the Packers start dropping games they shouldn’t (and anything is possible in this league) the Bears most likely have their eyes fixated upon qualifying for the 2011 postseason as one of the conference’s two wildcards. If the season ended today, they’d be the third team from the NFC North into the tournament.
There are teams I’m leaving out of this analysis. (1) Sure there is a very slight chance the Packers won’t win the division but there is zero chance they won’t qualify for the postseason. (2) The 49ers are going to have the NFC West wrapped up by, well, they already have the NFC West wrapped up. Do we assume Harbaugh is this good or Singletary was this bad? (3) The Bucs. I don’t see it. Maybe they’ll shock me down the stretch but I can’t take seriously that team I saw in London; the team that lost by 45 to San Francisco. (4) I watched almost every snap of Bills v. Redskins and the Redskins are done.
I am also not going to analyze the Bears. We all know what the Bears do well and what they don’t do well. I have them finishing the season 10-6. I had them 10-6 before the season. I have them 10-6 now.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-3)
Schedule: Tampa Bay, @Atlanta, bye, New York Giants, Detroit, @Tennessee, @Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina
Analysis: I had to put the Saints into this post after their jaw-dropping loss to the St. Louis Rams yesterday. They didn’t just lose. They were blown out. It was the most remarkable result of the season. Now the Saints only have a half game on the Bucs and Falcons.
Bears Fan Spin: You want this team to win the division, especially considering they are the only team in the NFC South to have beaten the Bears.
DETROIT LIONS (6-2)
Schedule: bye, @Chicago, Carolina, Green Bay,@New Orleans, Minnesota, @Oakland, San Diego, @Green Bay
Analysis: They still have both games with Green Bay remaining though they may have drawn the long straw by pulling the Pack on the final week of the season. They may only need to beat Matt Flynn to move on.
Bears Fan Spin: The Soldier Field game in two weeks may be a de facto playoff game, especially if the Bears can steal on in Philly Monday night. Bears fans will also be rooting for the Packers on Thanksgiving Day, mark my words.
NEW YORK GIANTS (5-2)
Schedule: @New England, @San Francisco, Philadelphia, @New Orleans, Green Bay, @Dallas, Washington, @New York Jets, Dallas
Analysis: Look at the schedule they face now. They could play well and win only three games.
Bears Fan Spin: If the Giants were to win their next two, Bears fans will have to start pulling for them to knock Philly and Dallas to the curb. But I just don’t see it.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-4)
Schedule: Chicago, Arizona, @New York Giants, New England, @Seattle, @Miami, New York Jets, @Dallas, Washington
Analysis: They are the sleeping giant of the NFC and when they play the way they played Sunday night they can beat absolutely any team in the league.
Bears Fan Spin: The Bears defense in the Lovie era always plays Michael Vick well and always plays Andy Reid well. They need an inspired effort Monday night.
ATLANTA FALCONS (4-3)
Schedule: @Indianapolis, New Orleans, Tennessee, Minnesota, @Houston, @Carolina, Jacksonville, @New Orleans, Tampa Bay
Analysis: I think the Falcons are primed for a second half resurgence and their schedule, with some weak opponents at home, should aid them. I think they beat Tenn, Minn, Jax and Tampa at home. I think the beat Indy easily on the road. That means they only need 1 of 4 to get to 10.
Bears Fan Spin: None.
DALLAS COWBOYS (3-4)
Schedule: Seattle, Buffalo, @Washington, Miami, @Arizona, New York Giants, @Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, @New York Giants
Analysis: After last night, I’m not analyzing this team. What the hell was that in Philly? I have never seen a team so out-coached in all my years of watching football.
Bears Fan Spin: If you were thinking Rob Ryan might be the next head coach of the Bears, I think he set himself back two or three years last night.
SO WHAT IS THE TRUTH OF ALL THIS NONSENSE?
The Bears play at Philly and then home to Detroit. If they want to avoid two months of scoreboard watching, they can simply beat these two teams and charge into the postseason.