NFC North Frontrunners: Examining The Schedule (Week 9 Edition)

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Staley mascot of the Chicago Bears looks on during the NFL International Series match between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 23, 2011 in London, England. This is the fifth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

There are nine weeks left in the 2011 regular season? Hard to believe, right?

The Chicago Bears are currently third in the NFC North with a 4-3 record. Coming off a brutal beginning of the season which forced them to play against some of the best teams in the league, they've persevered enough to come out in pretty decent shape.

But what does the future hold? We took a look at the upcoming schedules for the top 3 NFC North teams (sorry, Robert Rence),  and the way thing are shaping up doesn't look so bad for the Bears. After the jump we'll take a look at the Bears, Packers, and Lions' upcoming schedules, and how the teams they still have to face are doing.

Week Bears Record Packers Record Lions Record
9 @ Eagles (3-4) @ Chargers (4-3) BYE -
10 Lions (6-2) Vikings (2-6) @ Bears (4-3)
11 Chargers (4-3) Buccaneers (4-3) Panthers (2-6)
12 @ Raiders (4-3) @ Lions (6-2) Packers (7-0)
13 Chiefs (4-3) @ Giants (5-2) @ Saints (5-3)
14 @Broncos (2-5) Raiders (4-3) Vikings (2-6)
15 Seahawks (2-5) @ Chiefs (4-3) @ Raiders (4-3)
16 @ Packers (7-0) Bears (4-3) Chargers (4-3)
17 @ Vikings (2-6) Lions (6-2) @ Packers (7-0)
Opp. Record: (34-31) Opp. Record: (39-27) Opp. Record: (35-24)


Just looking at the numbers, one thing is glaringly obvious. The cumulative opponents record for the Bears works out in their favor. The Bears play a whopping four teams that currently have losing records, compared to the Packers, whose only game against a current sub-.500 record is a matchup against the Vikings. The Lions, on the other hand, play two teams with a losing record--the Panthers and the Vikings.

So what does this mean? in the NFL, while Any Given Sunday... is always a mantra, there are things that you can expect to happen a little bit more. The Bears' schedule for the next 9 weeks implies that the teams they face might be just a little bit more beat-able than their opponents. That could prove to be a very helpful situation, as the Packers have three more victories (including a head-to-head), and the Lions have two more victories (including a head-to-head).

Right now the primary target is the Lions, as they hold the current fifth round slot. Will they win 5 of their next 8 games and get to 11 wins, or are there some struggles that will hold them back?

We'll be doing this column every week, as we continue to track the Bears' chances for post-season glory. What we want to know is this week--what are your predictions for how these schedules will shake out? Which games do you see as sure-fire wins for teams, and which ones are instantaneous losses. 

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