Bears Need Help to Reach Playoffs, Have No One to Blame but Themselves

The way the Bears completely outplayed the Saints in building up a 21-7 lead and then nearly lost the football game would have been fitting. This is a team that has continued to show the ability to play like an elite team in the NFL, while also showing the ability to give away games and play like a mediocre squad.

You have a team who dominated Indy in Lucas Oil Stadium and handled a hot Philadelphia team at home. They piled up 48 points against the Vikings. They played right with the mighty Titans with their much-maligned backup quarterback (Rex Grossman, as if you needed me to tell you).

On the flip-side, you have a team which nearly lost at home to the Lions, was summarily embarrassed in Green Bay and Minnesota, and has blown three easily winnable games.

Last night, the Saints nearly joined the rest of the NFC South in garnering a win against the Bears when they had no business doing so.

That's the thing with this Bears team. When you watch them every week, you see -- about 60 percent of the time at this point -- that there is an elite team hiding in there somewhere.

Think about the team who built up a 17-3 lead in Carolina.

The same team who should have had a 14-3 lead in Minnesota -- or at least 10-3.

It's the same team who likely would have won against Tampa had Charles Tillman not gotten a stupid retaliation penalty -- or had the official seen the Tampa Bay player start the fracas.

It's also the same team who would have won in Atlanta if they didn't squib kick or would have realized cover two wasn't a good idea on the final offensive play for the Falcons.

If you assume the losses at Green Bay and Minnesota, and accept the Titans loss, you can still easily conclude that the Bears should be 11-3 and scrambling for playoff seeding right now. Instead, they need help to get into the playoffs.

And they have no one to blame but themselves.

You commit stupid penalties in overtime, you fumble twice in opposing territory (thank you, Greg Olsen), you allow a team to get into field goal range -- in 10 freaking seconds -- after scoring your own last minute touchdown ... you deserve to lose. It's as simple as that.

There it is. This team played well enough to win 11 of its first 14 games. You could make the case that the goal-line stop and consequent 99-yard touchdown pass are what beat them in Minnesota as well.

So, like I said, there's an elite team hiding in there somewhere.

We saw more illustrations to my point last night. The Bears were dominating every facet of that game in the first half. The halftime lead of 21-7 should have been 21-0, except the Bears gave the Saints a touchdown by fumbling a snap on their own one-yard line.

Then, in the second half: They abandon the run, play volleyball on a pass (thank you, Rashied Davis), throw a terrible interception, and stop pressuring the passer (thank you, Bob Babich). Oh, and attempt a fake punt instead of pinning the Saints deep in their own territory (thank you, Lovie Smith).

Fortunately, Kyle Orton led the two minute offense brilliantly, the Bears went back to Matt Forte and the running game in overtime, and Robbie Gould was clutch.

I love this team, and I can honestly tell you that I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a Super Bowl run. If they can cut out these horrific instances of pulling a Plaxico Burress, there aren't many teams that could beat them.

On the other hand, elite teams aren't still making these mistakes in Week 15, much less Week 6 (the Atlanta debacle). I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose out and head home at 8-8.

That's just the way they are doing things this year. It's enjoyable and then maddening. It's frustrating and then elating.

The ironic thing is now the Bears need help to make the playoffs, after continually shooting themselves in the foot.

My head is spinning.

Please, Bears, make it stop.

Bears Need Help to Reach Playoffs, Have No One to Blame but Themselves originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Fri, 12 Dec 2008 16:10:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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