Bears falling behind in NFC North, wild-card chase

Bears falling behind in NFC North, wild-card chase
October 28, 2013, 11:00 pm
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The Bears didn’t play over the weekend and it hurt them even though a week off after losing three of their last four was perhaps a needed respite. But they still lost important ground to their chief rivals for what is shaping up as multi-team battle for one wild-card playoff spot.

At the midpoint of the season, one wild-card team is expected to be either the San Francisco 49ers (6-2) or Seattle Seahawks (7-1), whichever one doesn’t win the NFC West division. San Francisco blew out Jacksonville in London and Seattle, despite fewer than 40 net yards in the first half and allowing seven sacks of Russell Wilson, keeps the best record in the NFC.

[BEARS: Marshall takes high road in war of words with Meriweather]

Within the NFC North, the Detroit Lions (5-3) and Green Bay Packers (5-2) won. So did the 49ers and Seahawks. The Carolina Panthers (4-3) have gone from playing coach Ron Rivera onto the hot seat at 1-3 into the playoff discussion with three straight wins.

Monday night in Green Bay, a rare meeting of two teams with winning records on MNF, takes on greater significance that any so-called “rivalry.”

Week        Opponent                          Day/date/time

1.      Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)         W     24-21       

Bears were being run out 21-10 and down 325-97 in yardage midway through the third quarter. Jay Cutler takes control of fourth quarter and fourth-down Matt Forte run sets up winning Brandon Marshall TD pass.

2.      Minnesota Vikings (1-6)          W     31-30

Jay Cutler directs second straight fourth-quarter comeback, finishing with TD pass to Martellus Bennett as defense “holds” AP to 100 yards but zero TDs or breakaways.

3.      @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5)   W     40-23

A 24-3 lead erodes to 27-23 before offense rallies to hold off a reeling Steelers team done in by five turnovers vs. no takeaways. Jay Cutler goes for controlled offense, with zero interceptions in smart win over difficult “D.”

4.      @ Detroit Lions (5-3)               L       40-32

Jay Cutler throws three INT’s and loses a fumble for a Detroit TD as the Lions score 27 points in the second quarter, 24 unanswered, as offense, defense and ‘teams all contribute to loss.

5.      New Orleans Saints (6-1)       L       26-18

New Orleans remains the only undefeated NFC team after Bears early mistakes (three sacks in the first 12 plays, two fumbles in the first four) undercut any chance to catch a good conference rival.

6.      New York Giants (2-6)             W     27-21

Brandon Jacobs runs for 106 yards but Jay Cutler puts up fifth 90-plus passer rating with 2 TD passes to Brandon Marshall as Eli Manning throws 3 picks, one for a pick-six. 

7.      @ Washington Redskins (2-5)                L       45-41

Losing the game was overshadowed by groin injury to Jay Cutler, shoulder and continuing woes on defense (499 yards allowed).

8.      OFF WEEK

9.      @ Green Bay Packers (5-2)             Mon., Nov. 4, 7:30

Aaron Rodgers throwing to Jordy Nelson provided highlights, 2 TDs and 123 yards. But Green Bay’s 151 rushing yards and 2 TDs between Eddie Lacy and James Starks were as ominous for struggling Bears defense. The win over Minnesota was Green Bay’s fourth straight.

[MORE: Cutler shows up at practice, won't push timetable]

10.    Detroit Lions (5-3)                    Sun., Nov. 10, noon

Detroit hung 623 yards on Dallas, 329 by Calvin Johnson, and Matthew Stafford used a sleight-of-spike move for the winning TD in a 31-30 win.

11.    Baltimore Ravens (3-4)           Sun., Nov. 17, noon*

Off.

12.    @ St. Louis Rams (3-5)           Sun., Nov. 24, noon*

Rams show a surprising run game vs. supposed elite Seattle defense, unleash Chris Long and Robert Quinn on a sackfest vs. Russell Wilson, but have an upset dream come up a yard short on the final play

13.    @ Minnesota Vikings (1-6)     Sun., Dec. 1, noon*        

Christian Ponder had to start with Josh Freeman down with a concussion and managed just 145 passing yards in Minnesota’s 44-31 loss to Green Bay. More concerning, Adrian Peterson ran for just 60 yards.

14.    Dallas Cowboys (4-4)              Mon., Dec. 9, 7:40 p.m.

Dez Bryant’s sideline meltdowns overshadowed the Cowboys blowing a 10-point lead at Detroit in the final 7 minutes, giving up 24 fourth-quarter points, and becoming an anomaly: a team to lose despite four takeaways and no giveaways.

15.    @ Cleveland Browns (3-5)     Sun., Dec. 15, noon*

Losing to Kansas City is no shame but a third straight loss and scoring no more than 17 points in six of eight games is.

16.    @ Philadelphia Eagles (3-5)   Sun., Dec. 22, noon*

Quarterback problems continue as rookie Matt Barkley was forced into action with Michael Vick and Nick Foles down with injuries. Giants win 15-7 with five FGs and holding Chip Kelly’s offense scoreless for 56 minutes.

17.    Green Bay Packers (5-2)         Sun., Dec. 29, noon*      

Off.

*        Subject to flex scheduling.