For the past several weeks, I have written and talked about how the Detroit Lions, barring any major injury, were in the best position to win the NFC North. Think about it; they already sat atop the division, the Bears and Packers were dealing with the loss of their starting quarterbacks, and the one team that even seemed like a threat, the Bears, they own a tiebreaker over.
Now, we sit with two weeks left in the regular season, and the Lions are faced with what may go down as a monumental collapse from a team that has done everything to ensure they miss the playoffs.
Heading into week 16, it is the Bears who sit at the top of the NFC North. Looking at their remaining two games, the Bears really do control their own destiny, as they are now in the position to win out and be the sole team to get a shot at a playoff game in January. Coming up this Sunday night, the Bears take on the Philadelphia Eagles, who couldn’t get anything going against the Minnesota Vikings, the team currently sitting in last place in the division.
The Eagles have been somewhat of a roller coaster this season. Current starting quarterback Nick Foles got off to a historically hot start after replacing the injured Michael Vick. The fast paced offense that coach Chip Kelly brought from college to the NFL has had mixed results, leading to high point totals one week, and an inability to move the ball the next.
Against the Bears embarrassingly bad defense, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Eagles to move the ball, especially on the ground, where the Bears rank last in the league. But the Eagles defense isn’t anything that should strike fear in an opponent. It should be a shootout in the primetime matchup, and given the way the Bears offense has consistently produced each week, their chances are high they will go into the final week of the season still holding on to the division lead.
There are all sorts of scenarios that could play out that will determine how the division unfolds, and one of them could be for the matchup in week 17 between the Bears and the Green Bay Packers to be a game that will decide the division. There has been talk of the game being flexed to the Sunday night spot, but either way, the game will have major playoff implications for the Bears.
Questions remain regarding the health status of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t returned since injuring his collarbone earlier this season against the Bears. It doesn’t look likely that he is going to play this weekend, the Packers offense without him is a quarter of what it is when he is behind center.
If the game doesn’t mean anything for the Packers, then there is almost a zero percent chance that Rodgers plays. I’d even go as far to say it’s doubtful he plays anyway, which mean the Bears once again stand a great chance to win.
Heading into the final two weeks of the season, the Bears greatest expectations may not have envisioned Themselves controlling their own destiny. Yet, it is where they currently stand. Under new coach Marc Trestman, who has transition the Bears franchise into the modern NFL, the season could already be deemed a success based on the long term plan. Trestman can really make his mark by his team stepping up and grabbing what they are now in position to get. You can’t say the schedule doesn’t favor them.