Chicago Bears Could Challenge in NFC North

The Chicago Bears could make a push in the NFC North with a strong second half and slumping competition within the division.

A few weeks ago, we had the Chicago Bears dead on the side of the road, but as players return from injury and the rest of the division slumps toward mediocrity, the Bears could make a run at the NFC North with a strong second half of the season.  I know it’s a crazy longshot, but these days tremendous upsets and overcoming long odds seems par for the course, so why not?

The Bears enter the second half of their season with a 2-6 record, but a 2-1 record within the division.  That’s tied for the best record in the division with the Green Bay Packers, who suddenly seem mortal at 4-4.

The first place Minnesota Vikings, who started off the season 5-0, have lost three straight games and sit at just 1-2 in the division.  The Detroit Lions, who just beat the Vikings last week to hand them their first home loss, sit in second place with a 5-4 record and a 1-2 record within the division.

The Bears enter the second half coming off their bye week after having upset the Vikings in Week 8.  Jay Cutler returned last week to bolster the offense and help right the ship.  Just as Cutler returns, the rest of the Bears’ walking wounded should be coming back to help the Bears make a second half push.

Getting Pernell McPhee has already helped the Bears pass rush while rookie Leonard Floyd seems to be coming into his own.  Perhaps the biggest return for the Bears defense, literally and figuratively, is nose tackle Eddie Goldman.  Goldman has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The Bears haven’t had the same presence in the middle of their defense since he’s been gone.

On the offensive side of the ball, the biggest boost should come from Jay’s return.  As many yards as Hoyer may have piled up, he still only put up one win on the board.  When you look back at his run, the losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts could haunt the Bears.

The real key to making a push for the NFC North title is it seems to be a down year for everyone else.  The Packers have been slow starters the last few season, but they’re beyond a slow start at this point.  Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense just seem a little out of sync.  The receivers aren’t getting open.  They’re playing virtually without a running back while their secondary is in shambles.  They play three straight road games to open the second half of their season.

The Vikings are coming back down to Earth after a ridiculous start.  They were able to overcome some major losses en route to a 5-0 start.  They lost Teddy Bridgewater during training camp to a major knee injury.  Then they lost future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson to IR with a torn meniscus.  He could return from injured reserve but it might be too late for the Vikings woeful offense.

The Detroit Lions are still the Lions.  Matthew Stafford seems to be riding high and has led the Lions on a few come from behind wins and winners of four of their last five games.  You just never know what you’re going to get from them.  They might be the dark horse for the division if they don’t end up Lions-ing all over themselves.  They get the three division rivals all at home, but still have tough road games against the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.

The Bears could make a run in the second half and hopefully they make the last eight games a little more watchable than the first few games.

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