Fellow Bears fans, let’s get ahead of ourselves…
Hard to believe but after tonight’s MNF game, week 10 of the ’10 season will be in the books. Our Bears have defied the ‘experts’ and stand 6-3, tied for first place with the Packers. With 7 games left, it’s not too early to take a look ahead at what obstacles loom on the horizon.
I initially thought a 10-6 record would automatically qualify for a playoff berth. But with a log-jam of 6-3 teams in the NFC, the Bears may need to hit the 11-win mark to guarantee a spot in postseason play.
Here’s a look at the remaining schedule and whether we should chalk up a “W” or “L” for each upcoming opponent:
@ Dolphins: Win
After Miami lost its top 2 QBs vs. the Titans on Sunday, the Bears will face experienced third-stringer, Tyler Thigpen. With a short week, look for the Dolphins to lean heavily on the Wildcat offense. The Bears should win the matchups of defense against MIA offense as well as special teams. If the Cutler-led offense can minimize mistakes, the Bears should be fine.
Mike Vick has struggled in 2 games vs. the Bears…granted they were in ’05 and ’06 when Vick was still growing as a QB. The Eagles attacking D could pose problems for the Bears offensive line.
@ Lions: Win
With Stafford likely out for the year, the Lions will turn to Sean Hill to lead their offense. The Bears haven’t lost in DET since 2007 and will be favored in this one.
A potential Super Bowl preview and SB XX rematch? Okay, maybe not. This game will be a huge barometer for the Bears. A win would solidify Chicago as legitimate contenders. On the other hand, a loss vs. a non-conference opponent wouldn’t be the end of the world.
@ Vikings: Toss-up
Who knows, by the time this game rolls around, there could be significant changes in Minny. If the Vikes are mathematically eliminated, Tavaris Jackson could be taking snaps under the guidance of an interim coach (Leslie Frazier, perhaps?). The Vikings are always tough in the dome, and if they’re out of the playoff race, they could play care-free and make a tight game out of it.
Coming off 2 consecutive OT wins, the Jets are the league’s cardiac kids. I’m still not convinced Mark Sanchez can make enough plays to beat a good team on the road. The aggressive Jets defense will pose problems, but I think the Bears can do more than hang around.
@ Packers: Loss
How cool would it be to have the final game of the season between historic rivals decide the North Division? The Packers will be looking for revenge after the early season 3-point loss in Chicago. I think this one will be tight, but if I was a betting man, I’d go with Aaron Rodgers at home vs. Jay Cutler on the road.
I predicted a 10-6 record before the season and I’ll stand by that. While it won’t guarantee a playoff spot this year, it should buy Lovie Smith another year the helm in 2011…assuming there isn’t a lockout next year.