With any of the Bears' remote playoff hopes officially being stomped out yesterday, the team can focus on playing spoiler, evaluating talent and all that other cliche stuff that media pundits say when a team is sucky and limping to a whimpering finish.
For Chicago it will be easy because of how terrible they have been throughout the season. One of, if not THE poster child for the struggles of the 2014 Bears, rightfully so or not, is enigmatic quarterback Jay Cutler.
Cutler is still on pace for the best statistical in franchise history at the quarterback position. Back in October I called this the "best worst season" at the position. Cutler is on pace for 4,241 yards, 32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Going into yesterday's games he led the league in fumbles and interceptions. He could very well break Chicago's single-season marks for touchdown passes and passing yards and lead the league in turnovers.
It's laughable. After the way this offense performed last season if I had posted a 4,241/32/18 season most would have said 'Boom, playoffs' and yet that's no where near the case.
The thing is though, now with the Bears eliminated, I wouldn't be surprised to see Cutler play some of his best football.
Cutler has a bit of a history finishing seasons strong. Back in 2009, his first in Chicago, he capped off an otherwise awful campaign with back-to-back four touchdown performances, throwing eight touchdowns to only one interception. He finished the season with one more TD than INT (27 to a league-leading 26).
For his career, Cutler's December numbers don't appear to be great: 13-18 record, 60.4 completion percentage for 6,846 yards, 48 touchdowns, 32 interceptions and an 84.5 rating. Record-wise it's his worst month of the season but statistically it's one of his better months.
I broke it down even further and looked at just his December record with the Bears: 9-9 record, 55.2 percent completion, 3,702 yards, 30 touchdowns and 19 interceptions with an 81.2 rating.
So while December doesn't appear to be a strong month for No. 6, I thought I would look at his performances in weeks 16 and 17 and that is where I found an above-average performance.
Keep in mind that he missed the entire month of December in 2011 with his broken thumb, so his stats are all from 2009, 2010, 2012 and last season.
In weeks 16 and 17 with the Bears, Cutler has completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 1,783 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions with an 89.8 rating. The Bears are 5-3 in those games. In fact, his worst wins-losses record was last season when the team went 0-2 in weeks 16 and 17 including that horrid 54-11 loss to the Eagles.
His worst late-season game came against (who else) the Packers back in 2010. In week 17 the Bears lost to the Packers, losing a chance to keep the Green and Gold out of the playoffs and, well, the rest is history. Cutler's stat line for that game was 21-of-39 (53.9 percent) for 168 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 43.5 rating.
Furthermore, looking at Cutler's record against the team's opponents over the next three games, Cutler is 16-9 against them (1-2 vs. Saints, 8-2 vs. Vikings and 7-5 vs. Lions). He's thrown for 45 touchdowns and 21 interceptions against those teams. His completion percentage is 62.8 and his quarterback rating against them is 91.6.
So expect Cutler to come through now that the season is over and the team is out of the race. He has been the king of garbage time stats this season and that's likely how he'll finish the season.