— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 31, 2018
The 2018 Chicago Bears played six games against the NFC North this season. The same number they always play. But these six were different.
Yes, the Bears were 5-1, with a point differential of +44. Yes, they were 3-0 at home, with a point differential of +24. But it was more than the numbers that told the story of these Bears. It was how and when they handled each opponent. Let’s look at them.
- Green Bay Game I set the tone for the entire season. The Bears left Lambeau on the opening Sunday night knowing they should have won, knowing Kyle Fuller should have caught the game-clinching interception, knowing they were the better team. Matt Nagy didn’t let that game bring his team down. He used it as inspiration. It worked.
- Detroit Game I was a bloodbath. The 12-point victory didn’t represent how lopsided the ballgame was. But the result was still important because the Bears had been struggling with the Lions for the last several seasons. No longer.
- Minnesota Game I was the biggest regular season game at Soldier Field in a decade. In primetime the Bears had to prove they were the favorite to win the division. And from a hotel room in Paris, in the middle of the night, I silently watched them do just that.
- Detroit Game II would have been the most excusable loss of the entire season. Playing their third game in eleven days. Playing on the road. Playing the Lions on Thanksgiving. Playing 80 hours after the aforementioned historic victory. No one would have blamed the Bears for a flat effort. And honestly, they sort of delivered one. But the defense won a game this team simply hasn’t been winning for years.
- Green Bay Game II was the most nervous this fan base has been in years. The Packers were clinging to their playoff lives. The Bears were looking to purge an evil from their bloodstream. Could they finally beat Rodgers? Could they excommunicate their most hated rivals from the “In the Hunt” column? Could they eliminate their little brother label? Yes. Yes. Yes. Everything was different.
- Minnesota Game II was the most surprising performance of the season. The final regular season Sunday. The Vikings had everything to play for. The Bears had nothing to play for. And yet there they were, humiliating a rival in THEIR building. Setting their postseason stage with another Club Dub. Another…BOOM. (You can see both in the exhilarating Twitter video above.)
The story of the Bears ascending to the top of the NFC North was a dramatic one, told on five Sundays and a Thursday in 2018. The author Ashleigh Brilliant famously said, “Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.” These six ballgames altered the future of the Chicago Bears. They have earned their greatness with on-the-field results. Now they must deliver on it. Not just in the coming month. In the years to come.
They are now the best team in the NFC North. They must stay there.