A few things I did not expect to write in this week’s recap:
-Aaron Rogers only played a few snaps and missed the rest of the game with an injury.
-Josh McCown will threw the ball 41 times, led the game in pass yards and did not turn the ball over once.
-The Bears beat the Packers on Monday night in Lambeau.
-The NFC North is wide open.
Things I did not expect to write going into week 9, but all were true and all led to a Bears 27-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. Now the NFC North is in a three way tie for first place with the 5-3 Bears, Packers and Lions, and suddenly hope is restored for the Bears to make a run at the playoffs. Now, lets make something very clear. The Bears did not get better. Their defense and special teams did not improve and Josh McCown is not a better quarterback than Jay Cutler, but the Packers did potentially get worse with their leader and one of the best quarterbacks, possibly ever, sidelined for an unknown amount of time. But things like this happen in sports and fair or not, the Bears now have a very important game coming up against the Lions that could end up helping to decide the division. The Lions are still the better team, but they are known for finding creative ways to lose and the Bears have proven equally competent when it comes to finding creative ways to win.
Now, the Packers were without Aaron Rogers, but, I do feel like we still did see some bright spots – the first of which being that Marc Trestman has a really good system in place and the right pieces around the quarterback to execute it on offense. Matt Forte is still a great running back and continues to excel under this system, and the receivers are big threats on the outside. Ironic that Rogers was taken out of the game as the result of a sack, something the Bears have failed to do much of in their first 7 games. Perhaps this is the break through game the defensive line needed to get their confidence back, but this is still a defense with major issues, giving up another 100+ yard game to a running back and still giving up 20 points to a team led by a backup.
Let me be clear – the Bears did not get better. The special teams is still atrocious. The defense still has major holes, still can’t stop the run, and still have a major weak spot at safety. The offense continues to progress, the O-line is doing a great job protecting the quarterback and Alshon Jeffrey continues to come along. Jay Cutler is still their best option at quarterback and I think once he is healthy again will be a very good one for the Bears. But their problems on defense will be very hard to overcome, especially while Lance Briggs is out. So, the Bears’ new hope for the division is not because they got better, its because the best player in the division is now out. Now, anything can happen. The Packers could put a few together while Rogers is out and save face and the Bears could drop a game or two that they should win. But the major difference between today and this time last week is that now it is a possibility. That said, its important to focus on the positive too. Peppers and McClellin were both difference makers for the first time this year. Briggs will be back, and if Jay Ratliff can return to anything near his Pro Bowl form, the Bears will be much improved on the line.
While the season has not gone exactly the way I thought so far, I did predict them to be 5-3 coming out of Week 9, and they are. They need to get better on defense if they want to make a push for the playoffs and perhaps win a game or two while they are there, but for the time being, they are still on pace to be 10-6. Aaron Rogers is injured. They have a shot with some big wins the next two weeks against Detroit and Baltimore. And I’ll say this, the Bears have been anything but predictable. So, anything can happen.