Chicago Bears

Are the Chicago Bears Playoff Contenders?

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The 2017 Chicago Bears didn’t win that game that they played on Sunday. The 2016 Chicago Bears didn’t win that game that they played on Sunday. However, that didn’t stop the 2018 Chicago Bears from grinding out a win yesterday against the Arizona Cardinals to move to 2-1, and atop the NFC North. In what was an odd week three of football, the Chicago Bears fell down early to a disappointing Cardinals team 14-0, but proceeded to pitch a shutout from there, and secure a 16-14 road victory. This team is extremely gritty. They could have gone quietly after imploding to the Packers during week one, but came back strong beating Seattle at home and Arizona on the road. New head coach Matt Nagy recognizes the side of the ball that’s been incredible, and the other side that has some work to do.

“This is for our defense three weeks in a row now where they’ve done some special things. Offensively, we understand, too, that we can be a lot better in so many different areas. But really in the end there’s only one thing that matters, and that’s to win. That’s all that matters. That’s all we care about,” Nagy said after the victory.

The defense has looked incredible in these first three games. They are 9th best in points allowed, and 5th best in total yards allowed per game. Khalil Mack’s dominance could have something to do with that. The former Raider has forced a fumble and recorded a sack in all three games he has played, torturing offensive line coaches across the league. Mack took a team-oriented approach to his postgame thoughts saying, “The will to win, you see it, especially in the back end, the linebackers up front, just everybody is jelling together. It’s a brotherhood. Something special is going on.”

The Bears hold a half game lead over the Packers and the Vikings, and a full game over the Lions early in this divisional race. If they want to keep this lead though, the offense needs to step up their game. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been serviceable with a 69.2% completion rating, but has struggled taking deep shots down the field, and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns through the air. Jordan Howard has also been just okay, averaging 3.4 yards per carry on an average of 17 carries per game. Trubisky is still getting to know his new targets in Allen Robinson and Trey Burton, but both acquisitions are looking like positive ones as they have combined for 26 catches through the first three contests. Overall though, this offense needs to put up more than 16 points against a weak Cardinals team to put less pressure on the defense in future weeks.

The Bears’ next three contests will really be interesting as they take on the Buccaneers at home, the undefeated Dolphins in Miami and then the confusing Patriots at Soldier Field. In a rather tough division, the Bears now technically control their own destiny. If the offense can pick it up, and the defense keeps up this pace, this team could shock the NFL and win the division that no one predicted them to win.

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