From a writer's perspective, I hate the bye week. I understand why it exists and I'm glad for it in the sense it gives our team a week to rest up, but it really throws a kink into everything. Just like it has a chance to do for our Bears this season.
At the bye, the Bears are 4-3, but the early schedule shapes up to be just as tough as the opening schedule was. While somewhat damaged goods at this point, the Paper Tig-- er, Eagles welcome the Bears first, followed by the Lions and San Diego Chargers coming to Soldier Field, then going to Oakland, who gets to feast on Minnesota before facing the Bears.
But there's a case to be made where the Bears can escape from this stretch at 7-4 or 8-3, and still be in good shape for holding their wild card or even making a play for the division. Follow me past the jump and let's go deeper...
The Bears start their post-bye schedule with a Monday Night contest against the Eagles, who have a Sunday Night primetime matchup against the Cowboys. Obviously the Eagles haven't been as good as everyone (read: media) thought or wanted them to be, but LeSean McCoy has been solid for them and they still have Michael Vick, boasting a strong offense with speedy receivers and a dynamic rushing attack. The defense has been okay, but nothing to boast about. They're like the Chargers of the NFC East, decent statistically but no results to show for it. Plus, the Bears won this matchup last season. Not saying it's a guarantee, but the Bears have shown they can win this matchup.
After that, the Bears have an afternoon tilt against the Lions at Soldier Field, who have stumbled a little after their hot start, but get Denver this week and a bye week before their game against the Bears. But they've lost Jahvid Best, and we'll have to see how the Lions look with Stafford a little dinged and new safety Chris Harris playing backup. If I had to pick a loss, this'd be it.
The Chargers also bring a tough test, as they currently lead the AFC West at 4-2 with very good yardage ranks, though their points-allowed and points-scored ranks fall very much in the middle. Their two losses are to the Patriots and Jets, but their four wins aren't exactly a who's-who of the NFL - the Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos. I'd say the Bears are just a smidge better than those four, and while they aren't exactly the Patriots either, I'd say they're good enough to win this game.
Then the Bears get the Raiders, who are currently at 4-3, followed immediately by the Chiefs and the Broncos.
So it's not exactly the opening schedule the Bears had to start the season, but there's some decent competition, but I still think the Bears do well in this portion, especially with the schedule the Lions and Packers get. The Lions get the Broncos now then the Bears after the bye week, but then they have the Panthers, Packers and Saints; meanwhile, the Packers get San Diego, Minnesota, the Bucs, at Detroit, then the Giants. If the Bears lose only one game this section, the division is very much still in reach.