Four Takeaways on Bears' upcoming schedule
Bears have a must-win game upcoming against the Packers (Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports)

Four Takeaways on Bears' upcoming schedule

by - Senior Writer -

The bye couldn't have come at a better time for the Bears. Not only are they reeling losing four-straight games, but the injuries are starting to mount up, so they needed this time to rest and recover. Throw in a new play-caller in Bill Lazor, and there were many things the Bears needed to sort out, so the extra time was worth it.

While the Bears may have had off this week, much of the NFC didn't, and there were a ton of essential games for the Bears to watch this week. From divisional games to games with postseason implications, Chicago was watching this weekend as the playoffs' path is a bit clearer after this week.

Here is what the rest of the season looks like following the Bears bye.

As weird as it sounds to say, the Bears didn't lose this weekend and were the only team in the division that can say that. Granted, they also didn't play, but that is beside the point. Not only was Chicago resting to get healthy, but not losing certainly feels good for the players.

Thank you, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Arizona: While the Bears have been reeling, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Arizona certainly have not as they have been some of the hottest teams in football. After losing to the Vikings on Monday, Minnesota had a chance to pass the Bears with one win on Sunday against Dallas. Fortunately, the Cowboys were able to hang on 31-28 and have now put themselves in a position to win the NFC East despite a 3-7 record.

Arizona has not only surged into the postseason picture but occupied the top spot in the NFC West heading into Thursday. Their loss knocked them out of the division lead, but they still hold a one-game lead over Chicago in the postseason. One game is better than two games, so the Bears got some help.

Green Bay continues to be Green Bay and go about their business. A win against the Colts Sunday could have buried the Bears' division chances putting them three games up with six games to play. Instead, the Packers let a 14-point halftime lead get away as the Bears have a chance to close the gap next week.

Next week is a must-win: Continuing off the second observation, next week's game against the Packers on Sunday night is a must-win for the Bears. Chicago needs this win not only to keep postseason hopes alive but to remain alive in the division race.

Should Chicago win, they will be one game out with five games left to play with a second meeting against Green Bay looming in December. A loss will not only put the Bears under 500 but would put them three games behind Green Bay and could very easily fall behind Minnesota in the standings, who is set to face Carolina and Jacksonville at home the next two weeks. The Bears season is undoubtedly on the line Sunday.

Time to bring back Mitch Trubisky: The Bears quarterback book room has taken a hit with Nick Foles joining Mitch Trubisky on the injured list. Although it appears Foles injury may not be as serious as once thought, there is a chance that he may miss Sunday's game against Green Bay, leaving a huge question mark as to who will start.

If healthy, Trubisky needs to come back in, and he needs to remain the starter. If you look at the teams left on the Bears schedule, they have the 1-9 Jaguars and 3-7 Texas as both very winnable games. You also have a game against the Vikings in which Trubisky is 4-0 against them as a starter and a Lions team in which he is also unbeaten against, and four of the final six games are very winnable. Should the Bears go 4-0 in those games, you're looking at a 9-7 at worst.

The remaining two games are against the Division-leading Packers, who he is 1-3 against. Granted, Green Bay has had the Bears number as of late. Trubisky gives them the best chance to win the final stretch of games. The Bears need him now more than ever.

The NFC playoff picture is falling into Bears hands: The final observation to take away from this weekend is that the NFC playoff picture falls into the Bears hands. As things sit right now, the Bears are the No. 8 seed, and unless the postseason is expanded to eight teams, the Bears will be on the outside looking in.

Fortunately for them, Seattle, Los Angeles Rams (who play tonight), and the Arizona Cardinals are all 7-3 or 6-4 and will have to play each other the rest of the season. They are in the same division, so someone will have to win those games, which helps the Bears out. You also have teams like the Vikings who currently hold the tie-breaker, but after their loss to Dallas yesterday and games against Tampa, New Orleans, and Chicago down the stretch, it seems very unlikely they go unbeaten or lose one game.

Yes, the Bears have two games with the Packers, but the NFC East will only be putting one team in the postseason, so another spot is checked off the list. Take away the two games against Green Bay, and the Bears have the easiest schedule of any NFC postseason contender the rest of the way. Even if they get swept by Green Bay, they have a realistic shot to go 9-7, which ultimately would have them in the running for the final seed. Chicago has everything right in front of them. Now they need to finish the job.

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