The Chicago Bears won’t get any breaks against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, no matter which unit is on the field. They come into the game at 4-7 and in third place in the NFC North. But, thanks to the quirkiness of this season where there are no elite teams, they also find themselves just a game out of the playoffs.
They would need a lot of help to get there as anyone who has watched this team can attest.
Stranger things have happened, however. Making the postseason would mean the Bears made the playoffs in three of the four years Matt Nagy has been at the helm. From there the questions become abundant over a coach that many believe is a “dead-man” walking.
No Breaks as the Chicago Bears Balance Playoff Hopes with Reality
Tough as Nails
Before they can think of any of that, says Nagy, they have to take care of business against the 9-2 Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is fourth in DVOA, fifth in points scored, and 10th in total yards. They are the best team the Bears have faced this season after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who blew them out 38-3 in Week 7.
Statistically, they have been even better on defense.
Meanwhile, the Bears are dealing with a ton of injuries including rookie quarterback Justin Fields who has been limited in practice while dealing with his cracked ribs. Reports are that it is more of a pain tolerance issue.
Chicago is 25th in DVOA, 29th in points, and 30th in total yards. They’ve scored fewer than 20 points in six of their 11 games. The defense is 19th in points and 10th in yards.
The Bears have been without Khalil Mack for four weeks while Akiem Hicks (and Allen Robinson) missed the last two games. But they could be without Roquan Smith, their leading tackler and best defensive piece going forward. This is a strength-versus-weakness situation no matter who is on the field for either team.
The Cardinals are better top to bottom.
However, never say never. The Cardinals haven’t exactly beaten up on a murder’s row of opponents this season.
Their “best” win came back in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams, though they too have struggled lately casting some doubt over that victory as well. They fell to the Green Bay Packers, their best opponent this season, in Week 8. There is a non-zero chance the Bears come away with a win and keep their postseason hopes alive.
Pros and Cons
There isn’t a Bears fan alive that would tell you that, in a vacuum, they want their team to make the postseason every year, no matter how they do it. Unfortunately, we do not exist in a bubble. Fans’ disdain for Nagy has reached him when he was watching his son’s high school games and crossed over into the arenas of other sports in the city.
Most would probably be quick to tell you that, while they appreciate the team finding a way to make the postseason, simply reaching it is not satisfactory.
That should especially be the case given the penalty and personal foul issues that have cropped up over the last year-plus. Or the fact that the offense has never ranked higher than their ninth-place in scoring and 21st in yards they enjoyed in 2018.
The issue is that there is very little faith in the powers that be.
Will they be able to see beyond making the playoffs or will they use that as enough evidence of positive winds under the current regime?
As unthinkable as that may be to most rational people, this organization has made a name by being unconventional and usually not in a good way. If it’s any consolation (whatever that even means for fans of this team these days) the Bears have the 10th toughest remaining schedule in the NFL.
Just as with making the playoffs, though, they cannot even worry about that before facing the Arizona Cardinals. That is a tough duality to have to deal with. That’s before even getting into what they may do with Ryan Pace as general manager.
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