The bye week was the Bears turning point during the regular season. Heading into their Oct. 31 bye, the Bears were 4-7, but the losses were horrendous. There was Cutler's four-interception game against Washington, the home loss to Seattle where Matt Forte had just 11 yards, and the disaster in the New Meadowlands against the Giants.
But a new team emerged from that bye week. Since then, the Bears are 7-2. Cutler has 16 touchdown passes. Julius Peppers has six sacks. Forte has had two games top 100 rushing, and three more games with yardages in the 90s.
What does that tell us?
They know how to put the time off to good use. The coaching staff has time to study New Orleans, Philadelphia and Seattle -- the three teams who could be the Bears' opponents. The players have time to heal. Earl Bennett, who missed the game, and Major Wright and Nick Roach, who left the game with injury, are expected to be back to form for the playoff game on Jan. 16.
Most of all, the Bears have time to shake off that loss to Green Bay, just like they did with the loss to Washington.