Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE
We look at the potential implications of Sunday night's game with the Texans.
Would you believe me if I said, nothing? But at the same time, everything.
Sunday's game against the Texans is a big game, no doubt - two 7-1 teams, each looking to go to 8-1 and quiet the storm that "They ain't play nobody yet" (which is kind of a ridiculous thing in and of itself). If you need a "statement game," look no further - an elite team in the other conference that you haven't faced in four years, and with neither team facing Atlanta (8-0), record-wise, this might be the biggest game your team plays all season.
The question, though, is for whom?
Let's say, for instance (as I put on my Superfans voice) that a certain team from a certain town in northeast Illinois welcomes the Texans into the greatest stadium in the NFL and whips the pants off of 'em. Would it be all kinds of awesome? You bet - the Bears would be 8-1, two games up on the Packers. Let's not forget that so far a loss to the Packers is all that would stand between the Bears (for that matter, also the Texans) and an undefeated record - and it's a specter that, regardless of the outcome, is currently and going to continue to hang over the Bears, particularly in the way that game went down. Nothing changes really for the Bears from a public perspective until they can put that specter down, with Green Bay in their own division and another matchup looming.
With a loss, things get somewhat dicey, as the Bears would fall to 7-2, only one game above the Packers, and heading into another very tough matchup against the Niners, albeit one that probably suits the Bears a little better. That being said, a loss with Green Bay on the bye isn't a good thing with Green Bay riding a four-game winning streak cued by taking down these Texans and an upcoming section of schedule that isn't particularly intimidating.
There's one very common, underlying thread in this matchup that doesn't have anything to do with the Bears or the Texans, and as you've probably surmised, it's the Packers. With a Bears' loss, the Packers have an opportunity to come back and take the division, particularly with eyes on the Week 15 matchup. And if the Bears win, it puts a little more distance between the two, with the Bears going into the tough Niners matchup - every game counts, despite how some (cough Hub cough) would have you believe a game against the Jaguars or the Titans should only be a half or a quarter of a win.
Things aren't all rosy on the Texans' side either - what looked to be a cakewalk division could be a dogfight if they lose on Sunday, with the Colts beating the Jaguars on Thursday to move to 6-3 (yep, tripled last year's win total), and not to mention the two games the Texans still have with the Colts.
First things first, of course - beat the Texans, and then the Bears can worry about what's in store from the Niners and the Packers; ditto with the Texans regarding the Colts. But the teams that have the most to gain or lose on Sunday night may not even be playing then, making this more of a "must not lose" game than anything.