With the bye week over, the Bears will now play 12 straight games to finish the regular season.
After the first five weeks, Chicago is 3-1 and first in the NFC North. Vic Fangio’s defense is getting after opposing quarterbacks, creating turnovers and playing fundamentally sound – and Matt Nagy’s offense is making positive strides in the right direction, especially after Mitch Trubisky had a career day when he threw for six touchdowns in a dominant 48-10 victory against the Buccaneers.
With both sides of the ball clicking, Nagy will look to keep up the winning ways to start off the second quarter of the season, which begins with four straight opponents from the AFC East; other than the Patriots, who the Bears play at home, this will undoubtedly be Chicago’s easiest test for the rest of the year.
Once that four-week stretch against the AFC East is over, the schedule becomes daunting: five divisional games and a matchup with the current undefeated Los Angeles Rams will remain.
Winning within the division is something the Bears have struggled with over the years. To no surprise, the Bears have a losing record against each of their NFC North adversaries since former head coach Lovie Smith was fired at the end of the 2012 season.
- vs. Packers (2-9)
- vs. Vikings (3-7)
- vs. Lions (1-9)
Although the Packers, Vikings and Lions have underperformed in 2018, that doesn’t mean the Bears will magically change their previous losing ways and defeat each opponent down the road. However, it would be extremely surprising if the Bears don’t win a divisional game this season.
There are no guaranteed wins in the NFL, but these next four weeks will be the closest thing to resemble just that.
So, for the Bears to stay atop of their division and put themselves in the best possible scenario to make the playoffs, they must win at least three of the four games against the Dolphins, Patriots, Jets and Bills.
The Bears will head to Hard Rock Stadium first to face the 3-2 Dolphins. After dropping their last two meetings, the Dolphins are not the same team that started the year 3-0. Injuries to the offensive line have significantly hurt the offense.
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) October 8, 2018
With potentially being down three starters on the o-line heading into Sunday’s matchup, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and company are in for a tough test against a stout Bears front seven.
New England Patriots
Many wrote off the Patriots after they dropped two consecutive games in September, which included a surprising 26-10 loss to the Lions. But the Patriots, as they usually do, rebounded and silenced their doubters by posting back-to-back wins and scored 38 points in each respective contest.
The Patriots should be close to mid-season form when they head to Chicago in Week 7, especially since the offense just brought back one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in Julian Edelman and acquired another offensive threat in Josh Gordon.
This matchup with the Patriots will be a great test for the Bears to see if they’re truly a playoff team.
New York Jets
One word comes to mind when describing the Jets: inconsistent. After easily defeating the Lions in Detroit 48-17, the Jets dropped three straight. But then the team came back and put together another convincing victory by defeating the Broncos 34-16 in Denver.
Sam Darnold has had his highs and lows this season, which is normal for a rookie quarterback. In the Jets’ two victories this season, Darnold has thrown for five touchdowns and two interceptions.
If the Jets want to have any chance at defeating the Bears in Chicago, Darnold must have a career day.
The Bills started the 2018 NFL season with an embarrassing 47-3 loss to the Ravens. Then two weeks later shocked the league by defeating the Vikings 27-6 in Minnesota. The following week, the Bills were shutout 22-0 against the Packers and are currently coming off a 13-12 win against the Titans, which was the second time the Bills have defeated a team that made it to the playoffs in 2017.
It’s hard to get a read on the Bills. So far, Josh Allen hasn’t been playing well, but at times has effectively utilized his ability to extend plays: the play that comes to mind is Allen hurdling over Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.
Regardless of what Bills team shows up in Week 9, the Bears should be primed to add another victory.
A playoff birth is not out of the question for Chicago, but in order to make that come to fruition, it starts with getting a win in Miami.