The Chicago Bears won back-to-back games for the first time since 2015 on Sunday as they beat the Carolina Panthers 17-3.
The win marked the second-straight week where the defense did not allow the opposing offense to score a touchdown. In a season that started with little to no expectations or excitement, the team has now provided a spark and rightful inspired playoff hopes.
With the team’s recent performance and the outlook for the rest of the division, there is a strong possibility those hopes can become a reality.
After Sunday’s victory, the Bears’ record stands at 3-4 with their next game on the road against the New Orleans Saints. Following the Saints game, the Bears will go on their bye week, then have two home games against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
The team will then have the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, the 49ers at home, Cincinnati Bengals and lions on the road, Cleveland Browns at home, and then the season finale on the road against the Vikings. All of these games are winnable games with Eagles and Vikings providing the most difficult challenges for the Bears.
If the Bears can get to .500 coming out of the bye week, they will play a Packers team that will be without Aaron Rodgers and will be led by back up Brett Hundley.
Their next opponent would be the Lions who the Bears defense held Matthew Stafford to just two touchdowns and four interceptions in two games last season.
The game against the Eagles will be their toughest because the Eagles are averaging 28 points per game and their second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is favored to win the MVP award.
The best outcome the team could have at the end of November is a six and five record.
When the Bears take the field in December, two of their last five games will be against teams that are winless so far on the season in the Browns and 49ers.
If they are able to pick up wins against those two opponents, they would just need to win two of three against the Bengals, Lions, or Vikings.
The Bengals have been a big disappointment this year especially on offense as the team has only averaged 17 points per game.
Both the Lions and Vikings games in December will be on the road and will be tough for Mitchell Trubisky because both teams will already have played the rookie once before and will have game tape on the rookie for the second game.
The Vikings currently are in first place in the NFC North division but will have five of their next six games on the road. Furthermore, they will have questions at the quarterback position as both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater will be returning from injury soon forcing a decision for head coach Mike Zimmer on starting quarterback Case Keenum.
The possibilities for a late season playoff push set up nicely for the Bears, but it coming to fruition will rely on their offense that has struggled heavily at times. Trubisky hasn’t led an offensive outburst just yet, but he hasn’t made the crucial mistakes either. Through his first three games, he has thrown just one interception and is willing to throw the ball away or take a sack in order eliminate the risk of a turnover. The defense has been stellar as of late, but the offense will need to go out and win a few games down the stretch in December.
The Bears best way of making it to the playoffs would be to finish with 10 wins, and if everything goes right, for them to win the NFC North division.
The latter part of an NFL season can either feel like a death march or a victory march for a team and its fan base depending on its record. One of the best stories at the end of every NFL season is the team that gets hot towards the end and makes the playoffs in the last week.
If the Bears are that team this year, it would be an incredible story for a three-win team the year before. With every win going forward, the hopes for the Bears making the playoffs for the first time since 2010 will only grow stronger.