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Of Two Minds: Are the Bears a Playoff Team?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With the bye week upon us, it's a good to look at the Bears and figure out who they are. More specifically, are we looking at a playoff team?

    Of course:

    They had a few shaky games when figuring out the offensive line and defensive backfield, but they have momentum and a favorable schedule on their side. Of the nine teams they will face in the home stretch, five have records at or below .500.

    The Bears were 4-3 going into the bye week last year, too. They took the week off to figure out what was wrong, fixed it, and then went on to win the division. Not only will they be do the same thing this week, but they will also be a healthier team after the break. Gabe Carimi and Earl Bennett will return to strengthen the offense, and the other players who have missed playing time because of smaller injuries will have time to heal.

    Catching the Packers, especially with the way Aaron Rodgers is playing, is out of the question, but a wild card slot is not. This is a playoff team.

    Not a chance:

    Are you crazy? Have you ever seen a team so inconsistent in play, play-calling and just everything? Playoff teams don't rely on one (underpaid) man to generate half of the offense. Playoff teams don't get blown out by divisional rivals. Playoff teams can beat other good teams, not just Carolina and Minnesota.

    The last two wins have made it too easy to forget just how bad the Bears can be. A few reminders: Jay Cutler has been sacked 21 times. The offense is still waiting for a reliable receiver outside of running back Matt Forte. Charles Tillman, a cornerback, is second among the Bears tacklers. If the team has to rely on the DBs to make all the tackles, that's a sign that a few too many yards have been given up. The Bears defense is giving up 21.4 points per game, which is a field goal more than the 17.9 they gave up in 2010. Yardage given up is a problem, too, as the Bears rank in the bottom 10 of NFL defenses, giving up 380.6 yards per game.

    Even with an easy schedule, the Bears need to take at least one game from the Packers, Lions, Chargers or Raiders, plus win all of the "easier" games to be in contention for a playoff spot. That's unlikely. Feel free to schedule your vacation for January, Bears fans. You won't miss anything.

    So what do you think? Will the Bears play beyond Jan. 1?