The Bears we have been watching these past two weeks look nothing like the Bears we had grown accustomed to seeing earlier this season. After inking in two consecutive road wins, one in San Diego and one in St. Louis, the Bears look like a team that can contest for a division title. To make matters even more impressive, both these wins have come after unquestioned star Matt Forte went down with injury. So what gives? Why have the Bears suddenly turned from a team contesting for last place to a team with re-vamped dreams of a playoff berth? The answer is simple, really: Quarterback Jay Cutler.
During the first seven games of the Bears campaign, Cutler averaged a 90.5 QBR (quarterback rating) while throwing for 240 yards per game, 1.3 touchdowns per game, and 0.5 interceptions per game. In that span the Bears posted a record of 2-5. Now fast forward to the following two weeks. In that span, Cutler averaged a QBR of 125.5 (including a 150 QBR this past Sunday, 8 shy of perfection), while throwing 2.5 touchdowns per game, and still only 0.5 interceptions a game.
The changes the Bears saw from Cutler’s newfound production were drastic. Instantly, Chicago began to look like a team contesting for a playoff spot, rather than the bottom feeder role they had grown accustomed to. The wins boasted the highest scoring Bears performance of the year (37 points) and a come from behind victory on the road. With all this in mind, it is really time to think about just how well the Bears can operate down the road into the second half of the NFL season.
Next Sunday, the Bears are at home against a dominant Broncos squad. While Denver has looked defensively impressive thus far into the season, they just suffered their first two losses, and they were bad ones. They lost to Kansas City 29-13, and pulled Peyton Manning in the first half after throwing four interceptions. I am not necessarily saying this game is an easy victory. In fact, this one will be one of the toughest games for Chicago yet this season, but with the current offensive production of the Bears, anything is possible.
Following that, the Bears head to Green Bay to take on the Packers, another team that looked dominant to start the season yet regressed in recent weeks.
Next the Bears have two relatively easy home games against two of the worst defenses in the NFL. They play the 49ers and Redskins in a winnable two game homestand.
Chicago then caps off its season with a tough road game against the Vikings, an easier one against ex-head coach Lovie Smith and the Bucs, and a home game against the let down Lions.
Should Jay Cutler continue his recent dominance, the Bears are looking at a five or six win end to the season. That will put them at 9-7 or 10-6, and depending on how the rest of the NFC North finishes, the Bears will stand a fighting chance to make the playoffs. This, of course, is only if Cutler performs at his current level.
Chicagoans, it’s time to stop hating Jay Cutler. He not only is performing at an pro bowl level, but he is leading this team to a potential playoff push. That's all we can ask for from him, so we can finally be satisfied, right?