One might think that a team that has finished in last place in their division four of the prior five seasons would be happy to know they are not destined for another cellar finish in 2019. But, in the Bears case, one would be mightily wrong.
This is a team that rebounded from four straight last place finishes with a tremendous campaign in 2018 that resulted in them winning the NFC North Division and hosting a postseason game. But, since they earned that postseason bid, a game that would end bitterly when a makeable field goal on the game’s last play was missed and allowed the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles to slip out of Soldier Field with a hardfought postseason victory.
This year, things didn’t get much better for the Bears. They lost their home opener to division rival Green Bay when the league decided to abandon the defending Super Bowl Champion hosting the Thursday night opener in favor of the longtime rivalry battle between the Bears and Packers to kickoff the league’s 100th season.
With that honor, the Bears fell victim to Aaron Rodgers and his Packers teammates in a competitive defensive battle, 10-3. Chicago recovered from that opening loss with three consecutive wins, defeats over the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings. In other words, following their division championship, the Bears owned a share first place in the NFC East as the calendar shifted to October.
The tenth month of the year most often saves demons and scary costumes for the last day of the month, but Holloween came early in Chicago this year. The Bears October resulted in losses in every game played, and by the time the eleventh month arrived, the division was a battle between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, with Chicago seemingly content to stay ahead of the last place Detroit Lions.
Last week, any mathematical chance of the Bears returning to the playoffs this season were doused, and now what do they have to play for when they host the Kansas City Chiefs in the Sunday night primetime telecast?
In fact, Chicago has not been in a better position to win a game tonight than they have been all year. The pressure of trying to defend their division title was long gone, and the chance of cracking the playoff field has now been taken off the table. So, what do they have to play for? Messing with the Chiefs postseason plans.
Kansas City has clinched the AFC West title for a third consecutive season, and will be making their fifth straight postseason appearance. What is left for them to play for is a shot at moving up to an opening week playoff bye.
With the New England Patriots win yesterday, which clinched their 11th straight AFC East Division title, the only way Kansas City could catch Tom Brady and company would be with a win tonight and a victory next Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Chargers, coupled with a Patriots home loss next week against the Miami Dolphins.
Even though the Chiefs own the tie-breaker edge over Bill Belichick’s team, based on a 23-16 triumph in Foxboro two weeks ago, the Patriots are not likely to relinquish their playoff seed with a home loss to the Dolphins. The Chiefs next goal, would be to catch the Baltimore Ravens with a pair of wins and two losses for John Harbaugh’s squad. But that possibility was erased earlier today when the Ravens downed the Cleveland Browns.
Next on the Chiefs objective list is to stay ahead of the Houston Texans to avoid falling to the fourth seed in the AFC Playoffs. If the Chiefs lose tonight to the Bears, and next week at home to the Chargers, while the Texans close out their campaign with a win against the Tennessee Titans, then the Chiefs fall to the fourth seed.
But here's the rub, all these scenarios are running through the heads of the Chiefs, while the Bears have just one thought; gain a little revenge on this season with a home win tonight over the AFC West champions.
For that to happen, the Bears' defense needs to play well to slow Patrick Mahomes offense, and the offense needs to rise up and dent the Chiefs suspect defense.
I like their chances.
Qoxhi Picks: Chicago Bears (+7) over Kansas City Chiefs