The Bears kept their playoff hopes alive with a strong, 33-27 victory over division rival Minnesota.
After losing six games in a row and falling out of the playoff picture, the Bears have crept right back into the thick of things with two straight victories. While they don’t control their own destiny — okay, nobody does; destiny is not controllable — the Bears are still in good shape to secure that new seventh seed.
Which means, every game from here to the end of the season is a pseudo “playoff” game. If they win, they keep playing. If they lose, their season is done.
Offense continues to roll for second-straight week
After turning in a great performance against the flailing Houston Texans one week ago, the Bears offense repeated with another 30-point outing against the Vikings.
Mitch Trubisky isn’t going to win any fantasy football playoff games, but he played a very good game against the purple and gold. He completed 15 of 21 passes (71%) for 202 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
While you can nitpick almost anything, his only true blemish was the interception he tried to force into the end zone. Picks are bad at any point, but they’re particularly egregious in the red zone.
Other than that turnover, Trubisky looked good for another consecutive week. The Bears rolled him out of the pocket, allowing him to read from deep to shallow and make the smart throw. His passes for the most part were right on the money and again allowed his receivers to make plays after the catch.
I’m not ready to re-anoint him as the future of the Bears. We’ve seen enough maddening decisions and inconsistent throws to know that he could go off the deep end at any point. But I will say that you can win with this version of Trubisky. If he finishes out this season playing the exact same way he has for the past three weeks, you can re-sign him to a small contract and bring in a rookie to develop. Trubisky can be the “veteran” of the quarterbacks room and you can groom his replacement.
Bears continue to open holes for David Montgomery
In conjunction with Trubisky’s recent success, the Bears have continued to run the ball effectively. And that is largely due to a cohesive offensive line that has jelled well together.
David Montgomery rushed 32 times — that’s not a typo — for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. That is impressive at face value, but even more so considering the Bears stayed committed to the run and succeeded despite the Vikings knowing it was coming.
I’m really enjoying the offensive line play up the middle by Sam Mustipher, Cody Whitehair and Alex Bars. I think with a returning James Daniels next year, the Bears will only need to address the tackles and they’ll really have something going.
Defense struggles again for third time in four weeks
As encouraging as the offense has been under this version of Trubisky, it is equally as discouraging to witness the defense struggle in the same time period.
In the last four weeks, the defense has given up 109 points — or 27.25 per game. If that continues against the Jaguars and Packers, it puts extra pressure on the offense to maintain its 30-point outbursts. On the flip side, if the defense could get back to the days when they held opponents under 20 points, this offense can help them win some games.
It wasn’t all bad for the defense against the Vikings, though. They managed to put a lot of pressure on Kirk Cousins, flushing him out of the pocket and forcing a number of bad throws. They sacked him three times and applied 12 quarterback hits.
Dalvin Cook is one of the best running backs in the game and he rattled off 132 yards on 24 carries. For as well as they defended him in the teams’ first meeting (96 yards on 30 carries), he was bound to have a better outing this time around.
Rookie receiver Justin Jefferson was a force to be reckoned with, catching 8 balls for 104 yards. He had a similar outing in the first matchup. Considering the Bears were without cornerback Jaylon Johnson, this could have had a much worse outcome.
Kudos to the defense for standing strong when they needed to the most. They intercepted Cousins on a throw into the end zone as time expired. Sherrick McManis came up with that pick off a deflection from Eddie Jackson.
Bears are playing meaningful December football
I’m with you, Bears fans. I lament that six-game losing streak. It never should have happened, especially the fourth-quarter collapse against the Lions.
But, alas, here we are. The Bears are not presently in the playoff field, but are just a game behind Arizona. The Cardinals won a close game against the Eagles on Sunday. They still have to face the 49ers and Rams the next two weeks.
Two losses would be nice, which would afford the Bears the possibility they lose to the Packers. But even if the Cardinals lose to the likely playoff-bound Rams, the Bears are in the postseason if they win out.
Like I say every week, though, the Bears can only take one game at a time. And even though the Jaguars are a miserable 1-13 and possibly playing for the first overall pick, the Bears can’t let it be a trap game.
You can only play the teams on your schedule, and play them to the best of your ability. I’d like to see another shellacking similar to the one the Bears put on the Texans last week. Then we’ll know they’re serious about finishing this season strong.