With a record of 3-5 through the first half of the year, the Bears aren’t in the best of positions to make the playoffs this season. However, considering that they were never really expected to do so, this isn’t much of a surprise.
Rather, these coming weeks will serve as a last-ditch effort by John Fox to save his job. If the 62-year-old wants to stay on as Chicago’s head coach, then he will need his team to get on a hot streak. That hypothetical hot streak would have to start this Sunday against Green Bay.
Brad Perniciaro of Cheatsheet War Room graciously provided us with this infographic showing how well the Bears have done in their post-bye games over the past five years. He also showed how they have fared against teams coming off of their own bye weeks, as well.
Fox has yet to win a game coming out of the bye week since he was hired as the Bears’ head coach. In fact, the team finished 1-7 last season after their Week 9 bye. Things were better in 2015 - they went 4-6 after their bye - but they weren’t great by any means. This is a far cry from what Fox accomplished with the Denver Broncos, as he led his team to a 27-5 record from the span of 2012 to 2014.
The Bears’ previous regime wasn’t much better after the bye week. Under Marc Trestman, Chicago finished 2-6 after their bye week in 2014 and 4-5 post-bye in 2013. With Lovie Smith in 2012, the team went 6-5 coming out of their bye week.
One thing that I found particularly interesting about this chart: the last time the Bears won in a game after their bye week, it was against the Packers in 2013. Want to know which quarterback they faced that week?
Not Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers was sacked by Shea McClellin on Green Bay’s first drive of the game, fracturing his left clavicle in the process. Backup Seneca Wallace stepped in and played the rest of the game at quarterback.
The Packers have proven to be extremely vulnerable without Rodgers. The last time he was seriously injured - which was in 2013 - they went 2-5-1 without him. After he went down in the first quarter against the Bears, they were only able to throw for 114 yards for the remainder of the game. A good running attack lead by pre-weight issues Eddie Lacy, as well as a poor Bears defense, kept them in the game.
This has been proven again this season. Since he went down for the season (presumably) on October 15th, they have gone 0-3 and haven’t scored more than 17 points in any of their games. Although the 2017 Bears are quite different from the 2013 Bears, the point still remains that Green Bay is nowhere near the juggernaut they usually are when Rodgers is injured.
Given these factors, plus the fact that the game is at Soldier Field, the Bears are favored to beat their NFC North rivals for the first time since 2008. Will history repeat itself yet again on Sunday? We’ll just have to wait and see.