The Bears played themselves squarely back into more than just contention in the NFC North division. Their 27-20 win over the Green Bay Packers left the three division frontrunners with 5-3 marks, the only division with three teams with .500-plus records. And only the San Francisco 49ers (6-2) have fewer losses than the Bears, Lions, Packers and Carolina Panthers in what is already a jumbled playoff race with half the season still to play.
The Bears hold their future in their own hands, with the Detroit Lions (5-3) coming next Sunday to Soldier Field, where they haven’t won since 2007. After that the Bears have the Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings, all with losing records at the midpoint of this season.
For their part, the Packers will be without Aaron Rodgers for an unknown period and draw the Eagles, Giants and Vikings over the next three weeks, all with losing 2013 records.
Detroit has Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Green Bay after their meeting with the Bears.
Week, opponent, day/date/time
1. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3), 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 (1-7), 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 (2-6), 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 interceptions and loses a fumble for a Detroit TD as the Lions score 27 points in the second quarter, 24 unanswered, as offense, defense and special teams all contribute to loss.
5. New Orleans Saints (6-2), 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 two TD passes to Brandon Marshall as Eli Manning throws three picks, one for a pick-six.
7. @ Washington Redskins (3-5), L, 45-41
Losing the game was overshadowed by groin injury to Jay Cutler and continuing woes on defense (499 yards allowed).
8. OFF WEEK
9. @ Green Bay Packers (5-3), W, 27-20
Josh McCown takes over for injured Jay Cutler and guides offense to 442 yards and five scoring possessions out of 11. Aaron Rodgers suffers broken collarbone early, and Packers can’t win despite 199 rushing yards.
10. Detroit Lions (5-3), Sun., Nov. 10, noon
Off in Week 9.
11. Baltimore Ravens (3-5), Sun., Nov. 17, noon*
Season continues crumbling for Super Bowl champs, who lose third straight, at Cleveland, and manage only 55 rushing yards and allow five sacks of Joe Flacco.
12. @ St. Louis Rams (3-6), Sun., Nov. 24, noon*
Third straight loss keeps Jeff Fisher's squad reeling, giving up 198 rushing yards and being unable to win despite sacking Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker four times.
13. @ Minnesota Vikings (1-7), Sun., Dec. 1, noon*
An epic performance by Adrian Peterson is wasted as Dallas hands Vikes a fourth straight loss despite Christian Ponder completing 25 of 37 passes, throwing for a TD and running for another.
14. Dallas Cowboys (5-4), Mon., Dec. 9, 7:40 p.m.
Tony Romo throws for 337 yards and two TDs, but Cowboys run for just 36 yards vs. struggling Minnesota.
15. @ Cleveland Browns (4-5), Sun., Dec. 15, noon*
Jason Campbell (remember him?) throws three TD passes as Browns end 11-game losing streak to Baltimore, converting two fourth-down situations and sacking Joe Flacco five times.
16. @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-5), Sun., Dec. 22, noon*
Nick Foles ends any quarterback “controversy” by throwing seven TD passes in 29-point win at Oakland. Raiders run for 210 yards and gain 560 yards but Foles nets 414 passing as Eagles pile up 542 total yards.
17. Green Bay Packers (5-3), Sun., Dec. 29, noon*
*Subject to flex scheduling.