Whether the Bears make the playoffs actually doesnt belong high in the discussion. The Seattle Seahawks won a division and a wild-card game with a 7-9 record in 2010. Tampa Bay and the New York Giants missed that year with 10-6 marks (the Packers went in via tiebreak and won the Super Bowl, the second wild-card winner in five years). The Patriots missed in 2008 with an 11-5 record.
Clearly no one was firing Belichick the year after a Super Bowl loss, although Tom Coughlin won a Super Bowl in 2007 and spent last season in job jeopardy until he and the Giants mucked into the playoffs and won a second Super Bowl.
The point is, making postseasons is a measuring device for coaches but its regularly not within their total control. It can be; Lovie Smith is in relatively good standing if he gets his team past the mediocre 2008 Houston Texans in Game 16 instead of losing the game and the playoffs through a rash of stupid plays. That loss, perhaps more than anything, other than his recent Green Bay troubles stands out as a definer on the negative side of Smiths ledger.
With that what-if, Smith would be on a cadence of playoffs slightly better than every other year: 2005, 2006, (2008), 2010 and this season possibly. With last years injury induced fall from 7-3 to 8-8.
The Bears havent just lost five of the last six games. They lost the five games to teams with records among the top eight in the NFL: Houston (12-2), San Francisco (10-3-1), Green Bay (10-4), Seattle (9-5) and Minnesota (8-6). The only leaders off the Bears list through this stretch have been Atlanta (12-2), Denver (11-3) and New England (10-4).
Those records obviously include the win over the Bears.
But if the Smith detractors want to dismiss the 7-1 start because of the high incidence of cream puffs, then the troubles of the last six weeks rightly should be dismissed because of whom the Bears have played.
Actually, the second half has been considerably more difficult than the first half was easy.
The eight in the first half included Indianapolis, Green Bay and Dallas and was made up with teams totaling 49 wins to this point.
The six in the second half already have 57 wins.
Id suggested a while ago that for Smith ultimately to go down, there would need to be a bad loss in the second half of the season. The Bears havent really had that.
If they lose to 5-9 Arizona or 4-10 Detroit, thatll take care of the bad requirement.