This schedule is, quite honestly, unfavorable, mostly because when your division is strong, you don't also want to play quality teams out of division. That said, the Bears are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. If the offense is eerything it is promised to be, there's little limit to what they can accomplish.
Check out the first two parts:
Week 10 - Lions
Key Draftees - Ziggy Ansah, DE / Darius Slay, CB
The Good - Hey, the Bears are at home now, and the Lions are hopefully still not great. Their defensive line should still be feeling things out, and if they haven't been getting pressure by now (see Kay's week 4 suggestions), they probably won't be here, either. There are still some questions, too, for the defensive backfield. Also, Peanut is historically pretty ok while covering Calvin Johnson.
The Bad - There's that chance the Lions run game may have developed by this point. If they figure out the balance on offense, their ability to get downfield quickly, combined with an ability to grind it out late, would make them a lot more formidable and take the pressure off of those new defensive pieces.
The Ugly - If the happy magic fun-time new offensive line is, well, offensive, Suh could still spend the day murdering Cutler. And if we're consistently double teaming him, Ziggy may only need to figure out one move to get around the tackle.
Prediction - 27-24 Bears It comes down to a field goal to extend it to over time, but new Lions kicker Havand Rugland isn't good as Gould.
Week 11 - Ravens
Key Draftees - Matt Elam, S / Arthur Brown, LB
The Good - This team looks very different from the team that won the championship just 4 months ago. Gone are players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Anquan Boldin. In come young guys who, the Ravens hope, should bolster the team and allow it to get younger and maintain the level of play which they have become accustomed to under John Harbaugh.
That said...you don't just replace guys like Ed Reed or Ray Lewis. Leaders by action and leaders by play, the two draftees mentioned above have very big shoes to fill as they move forward. Whether they can will dictate if they can repeat even part of the success that Baltimore earned in 2012. Trestman, with players who are executing, should be able to put some things on the field that these younger players simply won't be expecting.
The Bad - John Harbaugh is a very smart coach, and he coaches a team that is pretty damn good. They'll find ways to exploit you, and Joe Flacco isn't afraid to get it downfield to weapons like Torrey Smith. If the defense isn't getting consistent pressure, it's going to be up to the backfield to bring it to another level. The Ravens offensive line isn't terrible.
Also, there's that Ray Rice fellow. He's a pretty good running back, and if the Ravens jump out to an early lead, they could use him to keep the clocking ticking and make things rough on the Bears
The Ugly - The Bears running game. They're not going to get a lot here, but that'll partially be by design. Look for Trestman to use Bennett, Bennett and Marshall to test the middle of the field early, to see if the newer linebackers are up to snuff.
Prediction - 24-20 - Bears - The Bears will score a late touchdown on a blown coverage, and keep themselves in a playoff race. The Ravens will drop one and be ok in their standings, too.
Week 12 - @ Rams
Key Draftees - Tavon Austin, WR / Alec Ogletree, LB
The Good - The Rams, historically, are not great. That could hopefully play into the Bears favor. Ranked in the bottom half of the league last year, the Rams watched as the 49ers and Seahawks took big steps forward last year, and now have to play catch-up to their divisional opponents. Additionally, the Rams lost running back Steven Jackson in free agency this year.
The Bad - The Rams aren't necessarily a team you want to play, though. There's a lot of speed on that team, and they're hoping that free agent acquisition Jake Long will solidify the left side of the line. If Sam Bradford is getting time and a decent running game, he has the arm to make you pay.
Prediction - 27-20 Bears Yeah, you're sensing a theme. I think the Bears are going to do well in this stretch of the season, except for...
Week 13 - @ Vikings
Key Draftees - Xavier Rhodes, CB / Sharrif Floyd, DT / Cordarrelle Patterson WR
The Good - Kay talked about this in her post, but I distinctly doubt they've learned to throw the ball by this point.
The Bad - AP All day. Also, their defense will likely be settling in and hitting a stride. Floyd's ability to get up field will be making Rhodes look even better, and they could prove frustrating, especially if the Bears offense isn't rolling.
The Ugly - Remember that run that AP had to start the game against the Bears last year? He seems to be better at home a lot. That sucks.
Prediction - 27-23 Bears Yeah, we could drop them both, but losing at home and winning on the road just seems like a very Chicago Bears thing to do. So they probably will.
That puts the Bears at 8-4 going into the last stretch of the season. Does splitting the quarter and finishing with ten wins get you in this year, or are the Bears still on the outside looking in?