The Vikes had just landed Brett Favre and the Bears brought in Jay Cutler. Both QBs were going to lead their teams toward the playoffs and their end of the season battle would help decide the leader of the NFC North.
Someone changed the script along the way.
"I think every team in the league wants to believe they're going to be in the run for the playoffs," Cutler said. "Bottom line, obviously, is this is not where we want to be."
The Bears (5-9) are simply trying to salvage something from this lost season while the Vikings look poised for a deep playoff run. If they beat the Bears tonight – it would take a miracle for the Bears to win – they’ll receive a first round playoff bye.
This season has been like a dream for Favre and Adrian Peterson and the rest of the Vikings.
It’s been a nightmare for Cutler and the Bears.
His 25 interceptions are six shy of Sid Luckman's club record, and only Favre with 29 in 2005 has thrown more in a season this decade. Things were particularly bad for Cutler in last week's 31-7 loss at Baltimore, when he was 10 for 27 with a season-low 94 yards, got picked off three times and had a 7.9 rating. The optimism that surrounded his arrival is a distant memory after eight losses in 10 games.
"I don't worry about anybody's observations, except for the people in this building," he said. "I can't get wrapped up in what's going on outside of this building."