By Bryan Dietzler
After their big win against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving night, the Bears have five games remaining on their schedule and believe it or not, have a shot of making the playoffs. There are still some good football left for the Bears to play and if they want to have any chance of getting into the postseason they have to win just about all of their remaining games and get a little help. But that is going to be difficult as they play some decent teams in the coming weeks including two division rivals that have beaten them already this season.
The Bears have played just about every team they have faced very tough and in the last few games have either won or lost by a close margin. You may see that continue for the Bears as they play some teams with good defenses and if the offense doesn’t get going (much like it didn’t do early in the Packers game) these games are going to be close. Another factor in the Bears playing close games is that their defense is holding opponents to fewer points (since the Detroit game) and this is making for some tight contests.
The following is a look at the Bears remaining schedule for the rest of this season. There is a close look at the opponent, their current record and some insight into how the Bears might do in that upcoming game. There is a final score prediction for each game as well.
December 6th-San Francisco at Chicago-The Bears will have had a long rest by the time they play this game and will be up still from their high of winning the game against the Packers. Couple that with the fact that they will be playing at home and you have a near perfect setting for the Bears. The 49ers lost their game against the Arizona Cardinals 19-13 but played them pretty tough so it can be assured that they will play the Bears tough. The 49ers are in a similar situation as the Bears are this year in that they have a first year head coach and they are in rebuilding mode. They also have a new quarterback and are still feeling their way around.
San Francisco comes into this game with a record of 3-8. With good play by the offense and a stingy defense, the Bears should be able win this game and move their record to an even .500. Look for Chicago to beat the 49ers at home and even out their record. Score Prediction: Chicago 21 San Francisco 13
December 13th-Washington at Chicago-The Redskins are the current front runners in their division and are coming off of a convincing win against the New York Giants. They will have played another game by the time they visit the Bears at Soldier Field and depending on that game they may be coming in on a high or a low. The Bears should have successfully beat the 49ers and hopefully coming off of a win will give them some momentum heading into this game.
As it stands right now, the Redskins are 5-6 prior to their next game (and have the same record as the Bears). As long as the Bears play similarly to the way they have been playing the last few games they should be able to beat the Redskins and get above .500 keeping their playoff hopes alive. Score Prediction: Chicago 24 Washington 17
December 20th-Chicago at Minnesota-The Bears will face the Vikings for the second time this season this time in the Vikings home field. The Vikings beat the Bears 23-20 on a last second field goal to give Chicago a loss. The game may be different this time around as the Bears are playing a little bit better but the Vikings, following their loss to the Packers, played the Atlanta Falcons tough and won that game. The Vikings are playing very good football right now (currently they are sitting at 8-3 and leading the NFC North) and the Bears have traditionally struggled against them as of late.
One thing that the Vikings have that is the Bear’s “kryptonite” is a solid running game. Their running back, Adrian Peterson, has been having another good season and with the problems the Bears have had stopping the run lately a heavy dose of Peterson may clinch the game for the Vikings. This should be another tight contest but the Vikings will probably take this game from the Bears and derail their playoff hopes for the time being. Score Prediction: Minnesota 24 Chicago 20.
December 27th-Chicago at Tampa Bay-Don’t look now but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-6 and playing some good football. Their defense still struggles but their offense, under rookie quarterback Jameis Winston is actually doing pretty good and they are winning some games. This promises to be a good game as the Bears defense will be tested by the rookie quarterback and the Buccaneers rushing attack. If the Bears can shut down both (which they haven’t proven that they can shut down a good running game yet so far this season) Chicago will have an excellent chance of winning this game.
These are two pretty evenly matched teams but the Bears may have just a little bit of an edge in this one. Look for this to be a close game for the Bears as they crank out another win and keep their playoff hopes alive. Score Prediction: Chicago 23 Tampa Bay 17.
January 3rd-Detroit at Chicago-The Bears will host the Detroit Lions for the final game of the season in early January. The Lions beat the Bears a few weeks ago 37-34 in overtime and that was the Lion’s first win of the season. Since then the Lions have picked it up and played better and are currently sitting at 4-7 just one game behind the Bears. The Lions will most likely win a few more games before meeting the Bears in what promises to be a very good game and could be one that both teams need to win in order to land a spot in the postseason. The outdoor weather conditions (and the possibility of less than desirable conditions for the Lions) will play a part in this game as they might help ground the Lions passing attack. However, Detroit has recently re-discovered their running game and we all know that good rushing attacks have hampered the Bears this season. If the Lions can run the ball and use their passing game effectively then it could be a long day for the Bears.
This is going to be a good game and one that is almost too close to call. The Lions have picked things up a little bit and are playing better on both sides of the ball. The Bears are playing better as well but may not have the horses to overcome what has become a solid offense for the Lions. We will see another close game but the Bears will come out on the losing end of this one. Score Prediction: Detroit 27 Chicago 23
If the predictions above hold true and the Bears win and lose the games predicted, Chicago should finish with an 8-8 record but the bigger question is will this be a good enough record to get them into the playoffs. Of course it will depend on what other teams do but Chicago, as long as they can continue playing the way that they have been playing and beat the teams that they should be able to beat they have a shot at making the playoffs.
Getting better on offense and stopping the run on defense will go a long way towards ensuring that the Bears win some additional games this year and have a shot at making the playoffs. Chicago is playing decent football right now and if they can continue doing that then they will win more games and have a shot at the playoffs. Even if they miss the playoffs some might consider this a pretty good season considering they came into the 2015 season with a new coaching staff and several new players. There is a lot to build on for next year.