Seattle and San Francisco are going to the postseason. New Orleans is winning the NFC South. Somebody is winning the NFC East because someone has to win the NFC East, right? That’s four NFC postseason berths accounted for.
And I’ll give you the NFC North too, accepting the argument that a healthy Aaron Rodgers will be able to compensate for the rampant injuries they have suffered on the both sides of the ball.
The leaves one position, the six seed, for the postseason tournament. And unless you as a Bears fan are willing to concede that position to a Detroit Lions team that is a Calvin Johnson hamstring injury from losing out or a Carolina Panthers team that just climbed over .500 for the first time during the Obama administration or a team quarterbacked by Carson Palmer, it would difficult to argue the Chicago Bears season is over.
This is not to say the Bears will make the postseason. It is hard to predict how poorly the defense will perform with their best player (Briggs) sidelined and their second-best player (Tillman) unable to play sixty minutes. And every Bears fan remembers the Caleb Hanie experience well enough not to get over-excited by a backup quarterback’s performance in a game Jay Cutler exits injured. Josh McCown is still a huge question mark week-to-week in Cutler’s absence.
But perhaps the doomsday prognostications spread out across the Chicago dailies are a bit premature? Sure we can all acknowledge the Bears are not going to win the last game of the season in New Jersey. But when did the NFL in Chicago become a race to see who can declare the season over first?
I understand why fans do it: they want to lessen the hurt. Fans think they can trick themselves into not caring on Sundays by nonchalantly declaring the season over on Saturday. It doesn’t work.
The sports media in Chicago feeds off negativity. The sell the loser mentality. And that approach to sports is what has led to sites like mine being successful. (Side note: Do you think there are columns in Detroit being written about Matthew Stafford targeting Calvin Johnson too much? Only in Chicago does a great player get criticized for being too great.)
Why not wait and see? Why not allow the games to be played and respond to them? Why not acknowledge that we – all of us – don’t know what to expect from the Bears in the coming weeks? Seems prudent to me. In the meantime I’m refusing to count out a team that is currently a half game out of the postseason.