We’re just over a quarter of the way through the 2019 season, and the bye week makes it the perfect time to assess where the Bears stand, both as an individual unit and in relation to the rest of the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
Right now the Packers are the top team in the NFC North. They’re currently 4-1, and 2-0 in the division. Most likely they beat the Lions on Monday and become 3-0, which would be a boon to their playoff hopes. They also have the second easiest remaining schedule in the division.
Both the defense and run game have improved for the Packers, and much of the tension that hung in the air during the end of Mike McCarthy’s tenure seems to have dissipated under LaFleur (despite initial reports that he and Rodgers were clashing). Rodgers isn’t putting up his usual numbers quite yet, but as long as they’re winning, he seems perfectly content with that.
It’s early and a lot can still happen, but it’s quite possible that Week 15 in Green Bay could hold even more significance than usual in the Bears-Packers storied rivalry.
The thing about the Lions is, they’re actually kind of good. They’re also still the Lions.
They could very easily be 4-0 right now instead of 2-1-1. They blew a significant fourth quarter lead against the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener that ended in a tie, and they kept pace with Mahomes and the Chiefs right up until the very end of their Week 4 matchup.
They have a decent defense and running game, and I’ve long said Matthew Stafford is a much better quarterback than he’s given credit for by fans and in the media. They also happen to have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFC North.
Even so, they’re the type of team that could beat anyone on a given day, but are just as likely to suffer a complete collapse right when you think they might pull off an upset. I don’t think they’ll cause Chicago much stress in 2019, at least not from what we’ve seen yet.
The Bears absolutely owned the Vikings two weeks ago, with a backup QB and a defense missing a few key players, no less. The score was 16-6, but Chicago may as well have been up 50, that’s how inept Minnesota’s offense looked.
That said, they’re still 3-2. They had a solid rebound win against the Giants, and while Kirk Cousins is not a special QB, he’s good enough to help his team win most of the time. That might not sound like much, but at this moment it’s more than the Bears can say.
On the other hand, while the Vikings schedule is slightly easier than the Bears, it’s no cakewalk, either. They’re also already 0-2 in the division, and I don’t think they sweep the Lions, so probably the absolute best they can hope for is 3-3 in the NFC North, and even that feels unlikely.
All in all, the Vikings don’t scare me, but this division is so close that the difference between the best and worst team in the NFC North isn’t enough to write anyone off completely.
The Bears are 3-2 heading into Week 6. They have the toughest schedule left in a highly competitive division. If the offense can’t get things going and begin to carry their weight, the Bears are probably looking at a 9-7 type season.
That’s good, but not special.
Good was good enough last year. In fact, good was great. But after clinching the division, having one of the most dominant defenses in the league, and assuring everyone this offseason that Trubisky is much improved, fans weren’t expecting “good,” they were expecting a Super Bowl contender. Right now the Bears don’t look it.
They look like a solid Wild Card team, but if they want more than that they need to improve, and they need to do it quick.