The Chicago Bears have made a statement that they are in the hunt in the NFC North division race. The Bears did so with a 17-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The win allowed the Bears to improve their record to 3-4. The Chicago Bears’ three victories match their entire win total from the 2016 season.
The Bears defeating the Panthers was not improbable. According to Odd Shark, the Bears opened the week as a three-point underdog versus the Panthers. It shrunk to 2.5 points headed into the game.
It was reported by Pro Football Talk that the Carolina Panthers were going to be playing without their best defender, Luke Kuechly. However, not having Kuechly did not make much of a difference for the Panthers, who out-gained the Bears (courtesy of ESPN) on offense by 140 yards. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they could not get into the end zone against an opportunistic Chicago Bears’ defensive unit.
It is that Chicago Bears’ defense which could propel the Bears into the discussion for the NFC North title.
Led by a fumble recovery and an interception by safety Eddie Jackson, the Chicago Bears were able to stymie the Carolina Panthers.
Both of Eddie Jackson’s takeaways were returned for touchdowns, which accounted for the Bears’ scoring. It was the second week where the Bears scored on defense.
Relying on the defense to put up points is not something that the Chicago Bears want to do. The Bears have to find a way to get their offense on track.
If the Chicago Bears can get their offense going, a season which appeared to be bleak at one time will have the chance to have an interesting conclusion. The Bears can catch the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions if their offense can play respectable football.
Chicago Bears’ quarterback Mitch Trubisky only threw for 101 yards against a good Panthers’ defense. Trubisky completed four of his seven pass attempts. Neither of those pass plays went to a Bears’ receiver.
Things will have to reverse course if the Chicago Bears want to try and overtake their NFC North rivals. Keeping pace with the other teams in the NFC North is what the Chicago Bears have to do if they want to go after the division crown. The NFC North is currently up for grabs after Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers broke his right collarbone.
Currently, the Minnesota Vikings lead the NFC North with a 5-2 record. They are followed by the Green Bay Packers, who are 4-3 and the 3-3 Detroit Lions.
The Green Bay Packers played their first game without Aaron Rodgers this Sunday and lost to the New Orleans Saints 26-17. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Aaron Rodgers might be cleared to throw again in six weeks. However, if the Green Bay Packers begin to slide, it opens the door for the Chicago Bears to take their place.
The Bears surpassing the Packers in the NFC North could fall on the throwing shoulder of Mitch Trubisky. The Bears’ rookie quarterback was critical about his lackluster performance. Mitch Trubisky went as far as saying he played poorly (courtesy of 247 Sports) against the Panthers.
Many of the problems that the Chicago Bears are dealing with on offense stem from adequate offensive line play and a lack of wide receivers. The former gave up four sacks to the Carolina Panthers. If the Bears can give Mitch Trubisky more time to throw the football, he could either find a pass-catcher or make some plays with his feet.
It is clear that the majority of the playmakers for the Chicago Bears are on the defensive side of the ball. With Eddie Jackson, Aikem Hicks, Leonard Floyd and Kyle Fuller, the Chicago Bears have a core group with plenty of upside. The Bears do not have anything which resembles such in their receiver corps.
Despite their woes on offense, the Chicago Bears could continue to reel off victories due to the defense. That Chicago Bears’ defense gets a test against the New Orleans Saints next Sunday. It is the same Saints team, which took down the Green Bay Packers. If the Bears want to gain more ground on the Packers, they will need every facet of their team to show up next Sunday.
A win by the Chicago Bears would even their record at 4-4 heading into a bye week. The NFC North could be in the Bears’ grasps if that happens.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]