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Do the Bears have hope for the second half?

The bye week has ended and the Bears need to turn their attention to the second half of the season. With rumors of a lack of leadership, an embattled head coach and a fractured locker room, can the team salvage their 3-5 start?

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

After yesterday's games the Bears are now in sole possession of last place in the NFC North by virtue of the Minnesota Vikings' victory over Washington.

This is not where the Bears were supposed to be at the halfway point. Even with the road-heavy and difficult-looking schedule before the season, most would have said that if the Bears were 4-4 or 5-3 at the halfway mark that they would be in prime position to push for a playoff spot.

This is far from the case though, as the Bears' offense, which was expected to be one of the best in the league is ranked 14th in yards and 20th in points. The defense, which was one of the bottom five units last season has improved but still ranks 27th in points allowed.

As the second half of the season begins, confidence in the 2014 Chicago Bears is waning. Head coach Marc Trestman appears to be losing the team and has certainly lost many of his supporters among the fans. Quarterback Jay Cutler, despite having the best statistical season of his career, has made some awful decisions and has cost the Bears some wins.

It appears that with the Bears sitting at 3-5 and a full three games behind the Detroit Lions, there is little hope for the season. But perhaps all is not lost.

The Bears play only three of their final eight games on the road, which would be seen as a huge positive in most years when the team had actually won a game there before the leaves fell off the trees. But it should still help.

Another reason for hope is that the schedule appears to get slightly easier in the second half. Home games against the Vikings, the Buccaneers and New Orleans. They also get the suddenly vulnerable Cowboys. Their only road tilts are against the familiar divisional foes, which is a good way to make up ground in the division if they want any shot at the playoffs.

The Bears also played a very tough first half schedule. In fact, while their losses seemed bad at the time, the worst loss they've suffered is to the 3-5-1 Panthers. Their other four losses have come to teams with winning records: the Bills (5-3), Dolphins (5-3), Packers (5-3) and Patriots (7-2). Those four teams are a combined 22-11.

They have beat teams that have losing records: the Jets (1-8), 49ers (4-4) and Falcons (2-6) who are a combined 7-18. Sure they need to play better against the better opponents but beating the teams that are worse is more important.

The second-half schedule features more teams with losing records than winning. The second half teams are a combined 26-23. If the team can play better at home it could swing some momentum their way.

The division-leading Lions, on the other hand, do not get some of the same favors the Bears do. Their opponents have been a combined 22-39 through the first half and their next three opponents are the red-hot Dolphins followed by visits to Arizona and the Patriots. The Lions have a lot to prove in November before they can be considered one of the truly elite teams.

The Packers, whom the Bears start their second-half against on Sunday night, must face the Patriots, Eagles and visit the feisty Bills in their second-half slate. The Bears have played their best games in primetime and on the road, two trends that must be clinched to as the game nears.

It's a long season and while half of it is gone and that half seems like a lost half, there is plenty of ground to be made up. However, the schedule appears to be easier and they can start making up ground this week in Green Bay.

Do you think the Bears can make up ground in the second half of the season and sneak into the playoffs? Do you even want them to or would you prefer a better draft pick and/or new coach?