Bears coaches and players are under no illusions about the situation in which they find themselves, effectively two games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North with only four to play.
But neither are they willing to think they are playing as also-rans.
“It's not over, not right now, yet,” cornerback Tim Jennings said on Thursday. “I've seen it done before. This month of December, that's when it really starts counting. That's when teams catch fire. We could just believe that and we just get that one spark. If we get that one spark, then we're rolling.”
Unfortunately, the Bears have some of their own experiences to draw on.
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They were 7-3 in 2011 and leading the division, only to see Jay Cutler go down for the year with a fractured thumb and taking the season with him. The Lions were able to ease on by and into the playoffs.
They were 7-1 last season and slumped to 10-6, allowing the Minnesota Vikings to creep past them and into the playoffs.
The Lions are eminently capable of slumping. They got into the 2011 postseason despite going 3-3 over their final six games. They lost their final eight last season.
“It takes a lot for us to be able to get to where we need to be,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “But the only thing we can do is take care of what we have to take care of and that’s win our and win the games that we have to win one game at a time and see what happens then. Sometimes you have to travel the road and see where you end up.”