PACKERS AREN'T UNBEATABLE, SO WHY NOT THE BEARS?By Jon Greenberg
It's probably too early to buy those MegaBus tickets to Indianapolis for the Hoosier Super Bowl, but it's not soon to jump on the Bears' bandwagon.
At 6-3, the Bears, yes those Bears, are in the driver's seat for a wild card spot in the playoffs. The NFC North title is out of reach barring a Green Bay collapse, but that doesn't mean the Bears can't make a significant run, not with the way they've been playing. All of the Bears' losses have come against very good teams, and Chicago seems to be getting better every week. I know we're fatalists here, but this is a pretty good team.
The Packers are easily the class of the NFC, and New Orleans isn't far behind. I'm not sold on the 49ers, but at 8-1, you can't discount them either. After that, who is there to be scared of?
Like everyone else outside of Halas Hall (and probably some inside), I can't see the Bears reversing last season's NFC title game result this season and beating the Packers in Lambeau in January. Green Bay looks too good.
But no team is unbeatable.
Talking about the Super Bowl before Thanksgiving is silly, but there is nothing wrong with enjoying the moment.
And presently, the Bears are looking very good. The Bears have won four in a row and the next five games are against the AFC West and Seattle. A trip to Oakland is dangerous, but if the defense keeps getting a push from the front four, and Jay Cutler survives another blow to the offensive line, the Bears easily could have 10 wins by the time they finish the season with holiday games at Green Bay and Minnesota.
Cutler is playing with confidence now that he has Earl Bennett back; Devin Hester is, to borrow a phrase we hear a lot in Chicago, ridiculous; and the defense looks energized, creating takeaways and emanating a swagger.
Why not Chicago? The destination is Indianapolis, but the real value in a trip to the Super Bowl is the journey, and that starts with San Diego at home this Sunday.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
BEARS IN GOOD SPOT, BUT DON'T FORGET THE CHAMPSBy Melissa Isaacson
Yes, yes, it's too early.
I know, the Bears are entering into the soft, mushy part of their schedule, that the AFC West is theirs for the taking.
And annihilating the Detroit Lions, whose quarterback threw passes I could have intercepted, now apparently sets them up for the Super Bowl.
But let's talk wild card first. If the playoffs began today, the top-seeded Packers and No. 2 49ers would have first-round byes. The No. 6 Bears would be at No. 3 New Orleans in one first-round game and No. 5 Detroit would be at the No. 5 Giants.
But alas, the playoffs don't start today.
Yes, the Bears are in pretty good shape. The Lions, who should bounce back against Carolina this week, still have to play Green Bay twice (though once on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit) as well as New Orleans. They also currently own the tiebreaker over the Bears in the wild card because of division wins.
The Bears own the tiebreaker over Atlanta, which is one game back and still must face the Texans and New Orleans. But the Cowboys are still right behind the Bears in the wild card race and also on a roll, though they have to play the Giants twice and the Eagles at home.
And that's the point. There's still, as they say, lots of football left to play. The Bears just put their starting guard Chris Williams on IR, which means another adjustment for the still-jelling offensive line. And counting on the takeaways and special teams to win for you is a risky proposition.
The Chargers and Raiders in Oakland over the next two weeks is the first order of business. Neither are gimmees. Then we can worry about the Bears getting an NFC wild card and getting past the Packers in the playoffs.
Oh yeah, the Packers.
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.