Chicago Bears have it all to do this season after a poor start, but there is still hope for one of the NFL's most storied franchises.
It might sound like a ridiculous statement considering the way the Bears have lost some games this year. But when you delve further, you realize that if Chicago hadn't made key mistakes in games in the last six weeks, they would be unbeaten.
Jay Cutler's production so far this season is a mirror of what the Bears have managed to achieve, very mixed.
Chicago sit at an underwhelming 3-3 when you consider all the hype that we heard in training camp. The bookies are writing them off as well, with the Bears currently listed as 20th favorites to win the Super Bowl by some betting establishments.
Offense keeping them alive
And it is easy to see why. They've lost their most influential player on defense in cornerback Charles Tillman and Cutler has yet to stamp his authority on the 2014 NFL season.
But there are plenty of good signs that we have seen in the Bears' first six games of the season that suggest they are ready to challenge for the playoffs.
At the moment, it's Chicago's offense that is keeping them in the hunt for the NFL's post-season. After a slow start, their key offensive players, of which they have an abundance, are starting set the league alight.
Skill players coming to the fore
Now the Bears were against Atlanta Falcons and their shocking defense in week 6, but the performances of Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall were still something to behold.
Marshall for one has been a slow starter this year. Despite a flurry of early touchdowns this year, through Chicago's first five games he only had 188 receiving yards after problems with an ankle injury.
All-Pro running back Matt Forte had a similar slow start. The dual-threat tailback failed to find the endzone during the first four games of the season, and was even held to just 36 yards from scrimmage in the Bears' 28-20 win on the road at the San Francisco 49ers.
Luckily for Chicago, that was the game Brandon Marshall decided to step up and score three touchdowns. The Jets held Forte to only 33 yards rushing in week three as well, but in the last three weeks we have seen Forte show the league what he's all about again.
Starting against the Packers, Forte made 171 yards from scrimmage, while against Carolina a week later he made 166 from scrimmage, scoring his first touchdown of the season. That was topped off by his performance in Atlanta on Sunday when he rampaged for 157 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
Defense just needs to be average
If Chicago's offense continues to do the business then it's up to the defense to just be average. It is too much to ask the Bears defense to shut out oppositions teams considering the injuries they have that side of the ball. But what they can do is play aggressive like they have been at times this year and create turnovers.
The Bears offense can score points against any team when their in the right mood, so that means Chicago's defense can take more risks. It has worked in some games so far this season, with Chicago tied 3rd in interceptions. More of the same will be needed if the Bears are to challenge for the playoffs, but this writer believes they can do so much more than that.
Bears can go deep in the post-season
Chicago have the right make up to potentiality win the Super Bowl. They have four premier offensive players in their respective positions. Forte is the best dual-threat back in the league, while Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are arguably the best receiving duo in the league. Throw in top tight end Martellus Bennett and the Bears are just scary on offense.
Not only are they talented but they have the right attitude as well. Just takes these comments from Alshon Jeffery this summer as an example.
“I’m not the type of person that brags a lot about anything, but I feel that last year, what we did, we were at the top of the list as the two best receivers,” Jeffery told Sporting News. “But that was last year. This year we have to set our goal and try our best to do the same thing we did last year, if not better.”
This writer feels that the Bears will make the NFC Championship Game this season but fall one game short of the Super Bowl.
NFC North rivals Detroit Lions may have an impressive defense but their offense is waning and the Bears will overtake them before seasons end. But another NFC North rival in the Green Bay Packers on the other hand will be a massive test for Chicago, and it's likely that the Bears will force their way in via the wildcard spots.
But in clutch moments, expect the Bears' offense to step up this season. They are primed for greatness on that side of the ball, and their defense has shown enough that they can keep up.
And if Jeffery and Marshall have anything to say about it, the Bears will make the playoffs and go deep.
“We motivate each other,” Jeffery said. “We compete against each other and we’ve got the same goals. We both want to win the Super Bowl and we want greatness.”
At this stage, the 3-3 Bears might even be worth a cheeky bet to become winners of the NFC.