NFC North

Recapping last Sunday and what remains for the Bears, NFC North

Bills Recap and Analysis.

The Chicago Bears maintained their slim first place NFC North lead with a convincing 41-9 victory over the Bills in Buffalo.

Chicago would have been satisfied with any type of win, given the crucial games that lie closely ahead for the team.

However, a dominant victory with both Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson watching from the sideline should be very significant for the Bears’ confidence moving forward. Matt Nagy’s squad solidified its depth by getting the job done exceptionally without key contributors.

Although, not everything went as well as the final score stipulates.

41 points scored on Sunday indicates that Trubisky and the offense clicked and continued to make substantial progress. But, this wasn’t really the case. And it is probably why fans still

witnessed Trubisky operating in an aggressive manner late in the fourth quarter, with the outcome of the game already decided. The offense really never found a rhythm, so it attempted to even in the final minutes.

An Eddie Jackson fumble recovery touchdown and a Leonard Floyd pick-six accounted for 14 of Chicago’s points. Kyle Fuller also brought in Nathan Peterman’s third interception of the game late in the third quarter. Cody Parkey then split the uprights from 45 yards away a few plays later, after Fuller set Chicago’s offense up with a short field.

Earlier in the game, yet another ridiculous return by Tarik Cohen resulted in optimal field position for the Bears. Cohen spun his way for 36 yards to the Buffalo 23 late in the second quarter. Jordan Howard exhibited speed and power two plays later on an 18-yard touchdown scamper.

Sloppy pass interference calls can be credited as well for many of Chicago’s scoring opportunities. So, the offense really didn’t advance how Nagy would have desired. For the most part, points were created from the defense, special teams, and penalties.

The Bears only accumulated 190 yards of total offense, despite running up the score.

It is a little disappointing that the offense didn’t click very much last Sunday. Regardless, there isn’t anything else to complain about within the big win, which Nagy will be content with for now.

I’m not here to take any credit away from the Bears. Their point differential of plus 82 currently ranks third in the NFL, behind only the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.

Although it’s worth mentioning that, according to the Football Power Index, Chicago has played the easiest schedule in all of football through the first half of the season.

Fans have to be happy with where the Bears are at. Chicago is right in the thick of the NFC North race and has a very realistic chance at making the playoffs. That hasn’t been the case at this stage of the season in quite some time.

But, we are about to see who the 2018 Chicago Bears truly are. Every game will mean much more and will, generally, be more difficult from here on out.

So, will the Bears roll over and let the division slide past them? Personally, I don’t believe so.

Bears Remaining Schedule.

Though it will not be easy, Chicago has positioned itself to finish the season 10-6. This should be enough to at least earn a wild card birth, if not a division title.

Five of the Bears’ remaining eight games will be played within the division. Given the entire division is only separated by two games, each and every one of these divisional matchups will be impactful.

Keep in mind that the Bears have really only played three legitimate quarterbacks thus far (Rodgers, Brady, Wilson). Six of Chicago’s next eight games will be played against franchise-level quarterbacks. This reiterates how much more the Bears will need to step up to finish the season.

Still, 10 wins are very much within the realm of possibilities.

To take a more detailed look at the remaining divisional matchups, Chicago plays the Lions and Vikings twice, and the Packers once more.

If the Bears can win three of those five games, they should still be able to hit the 10-win mark. And that is assuming Chicago beats the 1-7 Giants, wins in San Francisco against the lowly 49ers, and loses to the 8-1 Rams.

There is no reason to believe that won’t be the case. Referring to the divisional matchups, I see the most likely scenario being that Chicago splits two games with both the Lions and Vikings, while also finally defeating Green Bay.

Some would say that there is no reason the Bears shouldn’t beat the Lions twice. I don’t necessarily disagree with that. However, I’ve learned from watching Chicago so far this year that this team hasn’t quite reached the level in which it will win every game it is expected to.

That explains why they lost in Miami and blew a monstrous lead in Green Bay. It is evident that this team doesn’t fully possess the maturity yet to play to its full capabilities on a consistent basis. In order to achieve that, Trubisky and some of the other younger guys need a few more seasons under their belts.

Even if the Bears do sweep Detroit this season, I could see Rodgers and the Packers beating the Bears for the sixth consecutive time. After all, it is clear Green Bay has Chicago’s number. And we all know how easy it is for Rodgers to get into Chicago’s head. So, 10-6 is a safe bet.

Whether or not the Bears reach the 10-win mark or not, what happens elsewhere in the NFC North will matter to the Monsters of the Midway. Let’s take a brief look at the remaining schedules for the rest of the division.

For comparison, the combined record of Chicago’s remaining opponents is 30-35-3. This includes a team’s record twice if the Bears play them twice. It’s worth noting that this is a little misleading considering the Vikings and Packers are obviously much more difficult to defeat than their record shows.

But, though Chicago’s schedule gets harder from here on out, it is still probably the easiest amongst all NFC North foes. Bears fans can happily keep that in their back pocket.

Green Bay’s remaining opponents have combined for 31 wins, while Minnesota’s have totalled 32 wins and 36 for Detroit. This, of course, doesn’t tell you as much as the opponents do themselves.

Each NFC North team has at least three divisional games remaining on their schedule. Meaning no team will be given the luxury of avoiding divisional matchups, and solely be able to move up in the division because of indirect win-loss outcomes.

Minnesota’s Remaining Schedule.

The Vikings are the biggest threat to taking over the division. Not only because they are in second place, but because of the talent they possess. Most picked Minnesota to work its way to the top of the North early and stay there all season.

Besides facing Chicago once as well as the Packers and Lions once, the Vikings have to travel to New England and Seattle in back-to-back weeks. This alone makes Minnesota’s remaining non-divisional games tougher than Chicago’s.

Miami at home won’t be very difficult for the Vikings, but New England and Seattle are two of the most difficult places to play in the league.

Green Bay’s Remaining Schedule.

Green Bay’s upcoming games are a bit less challenging. The Packers only play each divisional team once more. Outside of the division, Green Bay plays three of five games at home.

The games at Lambeau come against Miami, Atlanta, and Arizona. All of which should be victories. The Falcons won’t be easy, but Green Bay holds a definite home-field advantage.

Still, even if the Packers win all of those games, in addition to beating the Jets and earning a hard-fought victory in Seattle, that still only gives Green Bay eight wins this season.

Mike McCarthy was livid after Clay Matthews was once again flagged for what many consider a standard NFL tackle. Rob Carr/Getty Images

Two of the three previously mentioned divisional games for the Packers are on the road. And they are against the better two teams in the NFC North, Minnesota and Chicago. 

Things don’t line up well for Mike McCarthy’s bunch. I can’t imagine the Packers sneaking into the playoffs with nine wins. The odds of exceeding that win total are stacked against Green Bay.

Detroit’s Remaining Schedule.

In the next four weeks or so, I imagine the rest of the NFC North will separate itself from Detroit. Moreover to already being in last place, Detroit undoubtedly is tasked with the most strenuous remaining schedule.

The Lions have to host the red-hot, 6-2 Carolina Panthers as well as the Rams. Detroit also faces Chicago twice, Minnesota at home, and Green Bay on the road.

The Cardinals and Bills provide the Lions with the best opportunities to win out of their eight remaining games. But, it doesn’t help that both of those games will be played on the road. I don’t anticipate the Lions winning more than six games this season. 

Author Profile

Eddie Herz
Eddie Herz
Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Eddie Herz is a senior journalism major at Colorado State University. He has been a beat reporter for CSU's newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, since he was a freshman. Eddie has also contributed to the BTPowerhouse.com, a sister website of SBnation. Eddie will be the CSU Football beat reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian this coming Fall.
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