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Bears must buck history for shot at playoffs

The Chicago Bears have come so far in their first season under John Fox's leadership. Fox has turned around a fractured culture but he still has one more recent trend to stop if the Bears want to find themselves in the playoff hunt at the season's end.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears are within a game of .500 for the third time this season after last Thursday's game. The Bears have not been .500 since week six of the 2014 season when they beat Atlanta to get to 3-3.

It would be a big achievement for this team just to get to .500 considering the larger context of the season; the lack of top to bottom talent on the roster, as well as the number of injuries that the team has been hit with. The coaching staff of John Fox has this team punching above their weight and save for two games when their starting QB was injured, they've been in every game.

The John Fox way really came to fruition on Thanksgiving night when the team traveled to Lambeau Field, a proverbial house of horrors in recent years for Jay Cutler and the Bears and beat their foes 17-13.

Standing at 5-6, the Bears have a remote shot at the playoffs but those chances start largely on the idea that they can win out. The remaining five games are certainly winnable, the toughest being a showdown against the division leading Minnesota Vikings in three weeks' time.

However, recent history says that December is not kind to the Bears and winning out will be no easy task.

To begin with, Chicago needs to win out, asking them to finish the team season on a six-game winning streak. The team hasn't had a three-game win streak since September of 2013 when they opened the season 3-0. They haven't won six straight since the final year of the Lovie Smith era.

The second part of this is that Chicago has not had a history of finishing seasons strongly in quite some time. Going back to 2010, the Bears own an 8-16 record in December and January regular season games.

Their best run in that time was in 2010 when they finished 3-2 in December and January, beating the Lions, losing to the Patriots, beating Minnesota and the Jets but then dropping a week 17 home game to the Packers.

In each subsequent year, except for last, the Bears had legitimate playoff hopes entering the final month of the season. In 2011 the Bears were 7-4 entering December but had just lost Jay Cutler to a thumb injury. Matt Forte went down in the first game of the month and the season slipped away as their replacements couldn't tread water until they had a chance to return, once the season was gone the pair were put on IR and the team finished 1-4.

In 2012 the Bears entered December boasting an 8-3 record but lost three straight before recovering to win the final two but couldn't get into the postseason.

In 2013, under Marc Trestman, the Bears came into the final five games at 6-5 with Josh McCown filling in for the injured Cutler. McCown went 1-1 in December before Cutler was healthy enough to come back but the team still went 1-2 in the final three weeks (including a foreshadowing 54-11 drubbing by the Eagles in week 16 with a playoff berth there for the taking).

Last season the bears dropped their final five, including all four December games. They entered the final five games at 5-7 and the playoffs were already out the question as the team spiraled out of control.

The question is then, can the Bears finally put their fizzling end to seasons behind them and play their best football when the games begin to mean the most? Every team wants to have a chance at playing well into January but often times that means winning in December. Since 2010, the Bears haven't been able to do that.

John Fox has turned this team around quicker than most thought was possible and they've been in every single game over the last month. They are starting to play some of their best football but can Fox get them to end their December woes and position them to grab a playoff spot?

Stay tuned.

Do you think Fox can end the Bears' bad December/January runs?