Chicago Bears Roll into the Playoffs, How Far Can They Go?
The 2018 Chicago Bears roll into the playoffs with a full head of steam after beating the Minnesota Vikings on the road. Next, they welcome the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to Soldier Field; fitting as they begin their own championship run. Will the Eagles and former-Bear Alshon Jeffery make this a one-and-done for Chicago?
Last Time We Saw Our Heroes…
Chicago had not made the postseason since 2010. That year they lost in the conference championship to the rival Green Bay Packers. A 24-17 victory in week 15 ended any chance of a repeat. Minnesota entered week 17 needing a win to even qualify for the playoffs. They certainly figured to have the mental edge as they were fighting for more than the Bears who were pretty much locked into the three-seed by halftime.
What actually took place was the Bears looking like a team primed for a deep playoff run. Chicago dominated time of possession, held the Vikings to 10 points in their building, and eliminated them from contention. That this was the same team that took quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out for two weeks with a shoulder injury makes it that much sweeter.
The 2010 Bears were 21st in scoring offense and 29th in total yards. They also lost in the NFC Championship to the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers due to blown coverage. This year’s version checks in at an under-the-radar ninth in scoring. They are a pedestrian 21st in yards, though.
That is undoubtedly due to short fields provided by the third-ranked defense in terms of yards per game. When teams do move the ball they have to score on the best defense in that department. 2010’s was also adept at causing turnovers, notching 35 takeaways. The Bears have 36 this year.
Perhaps this squad is closer to the one that went to the Super Bowl in 2006 but lost to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The defenses are very similar statistically in points allowed (2006, 2018). This year’s team does rank higher in yards allowed at third with 299.7 per game compared to ninth (306.2) in ’06. The caveat is those Bears ranked second in points scored and 14th in yards allowed per game as well.
Even those rankings, however, are misleading. They ranked second in ’06, scoring 26.8 PPG and are ninth with 26.3 PPG this year. The run offense was 12th (123.4 YPG) in 2006 and is quietly 11th (121.1 YPG) this year. The passing game ranked higher in ’06 (17th) than in 2018 (21st), but with less yardage, 201.6 to 222.8, respectively.
Bad News Bears
Some would say this team is reminiscent of the 2005 Bears that lost in the divisional round to Steve Smith Sr. and the Carolina Panthers. The Bears could only muster 185 passing yards and 97 yards on the ground. The difference is this team is worlds better on offense than that one, which ranked 26th in points and 28th in yards per game.
This week, there will certainly be comparisons to the 2001 team that lost in the divisional round to the Eagles. That year was also similar to this one offensively as they ranked 11th in points and tied for 24th in yards. The defense that year was textbook bend-but-don’t-break; a mediocre 15th in yards allowed but were first in scoring. Quarterback Jim Miller left that game with an injury, leading to the Bears’ demise.
This was pretty much the story for the Bears from ’86-’00. Chicago made the playoffs just six times in 15 seasons; making one conference championship and losing four times in the divisional round. None of the late 80’s or early 90’s teams had quite what this team does on both sides of the ball.
None of them could recapture the magic of the ’85 season. That team is obviously the pinnacle in the City of Chicago. They ranked second in points and seventh in yards while ranking first in points and yards allowed. Simply put, they were dominant.
Learning From History
As these Bears roll into the playoffs, Head Coach Matt Nagy has shown to be plenty aware of Chicago Bears history; ‘The Freezer Left‘ was evidence of that. Surely he wants to avenge that loss; as well as stick it to a former colleague in Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson.
The Bears roll into the playoffs comparing favorably to some of their better past renditions. None of this has any bearing on what will happen this coming Sunday at Soldier Field. What does matter is this team is clicking on all cylinders right now.
Hopefully, safety Eddie Jackson and wide receiver Allen Robinson can return this week. Hopefully, the Bears roll into the playoffs and all the way to a championship. They might not have a cool song, but these Bears have some pretty good moves of their own. They even have their own club. Pretty Super, huh?
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