The Prophecy died with a damp ball and fumbled snaps and a backup quarterback who looked the part. It perished with missed tackles, laced with the stains of a bad timeout.
In the end, we left the Meadowlands with a surprise loss that was nearly a surprise win and an 8-4 record that cracks our formidable 2006 facade.
For the uninitiated, The Prophecy declared that because the Bears play the exact same slate of teams in 2018 that we did in 2006, and because it’s fun and useful to believe in such things, I knew that we would win all of the games we won in 2006 and lose all of the games we lost in 2006 and emerge with a 13-3 mark as we entered the playoffs.
When we started the season 3-3 with losses to Green Bay, Miami and New England, I said Eureka! — for those were our losses in 2006 and now we were free to run the table.
The Giants loss changes that equation.
That’s fine with some people. Naysayers were quick to point out that following The Prophecy to its logical end meant a Super Bowl loss. Yet as I’ve noted since the beginning, the 2018 Bears were also functioning on the 1984 Prophecy, which declares that an up-and-comer will have a busting-out-on-the-scene season, which shall run its course through the league semifinals round en route to a championship the following year.
Tied to the ‘84 Bears Prophecy, of course, is the 2009 Blackhawks Prophecy and the 2015 Cubs Prophecy.
As of Tuesday, there’s even more to the story, I’m happy to say, as pointed out by WCG friend Greg Braggs Jr.
You might know Greg from his excellent tweeting and video this summer from Bourbonnais, which included some of the best footage of Mean 17 pointing our offense into the future. Anyhow, on Tuesday, Greg noted the ties between our upcoming Rams game and the 2010 Bears-Eagles game:
Interesting...— Greg Braggs Jr. (@GBraggsJr) December 4, 2018
2010: A couple weeks after the Unstoppable Eagles dropped 59 on SNF w/ Michael Vick, the Bears pulled the upset in a game no one thought they would win at Soldier Field 31-26.
This year: The Unstoppable Rams dropped 54 on MNF and now the Bears welcome LA to town. https://t.co/CTPjgGrYMg
The 2010 Bears, he reminded everyone, reached the NFC title game. Which is perfect, I told him, because of course the 1984 Bears also reached that game, which would continue us on the path for a championship 2019 season and Super Bowl LIV, with Money Mitch and Deshaun Watson squaring off in the Class of 2017 duel.
This 2010 revelation works because there have always been prophecies folded into Prophecies, and the 2010 Prophecy — useful just for what it says about a single season — tucks itself neatly in the broader 1984 Prophecy, which is useful for what it says about this season and the next one.
(But not the next one after that. Because this Bears team is following the 1940s Prophecy, not the 1980s Prophecy. A relief to you, I’m sure, as it was to me.)
If you don’t remember that Eagles game in 2010, I’ll pick you quickly up to speed. Philly came to Chicago for a Sunday afternoon game, both teams 7-3 and quickly discovering themselves. The Eagles were winners of three straight including the iconic Michael Vick game on Monday Night Football, a 59-28 win over Washington that the Eagles opened with a 35-0 lead on the first play of the 2nd quarter.
We were 3.5-point underdogs at home. Instead of buckling, we raced out to a 31-13 lead behind one of Jay Cutler’s best games as a Bear (14-21, 4 TD, 0 turnovers, 146.2 rating) and knocked off the Eagles 31-26.
This was the signature win of the 2010 regular season, a “hinge game” (as I explained in 2015) that made everyone — players, coaches, opponents, fans, press — feel as if the season itself was turning on every play. I certainly felt like that. We were 8-3 after that win, which was the fourth of a five-game winning streak that changed our season. (Sound familiar?)
After that game, I wrote a column where I acknowledged that the Eagles win had placed me into a new mindset for the 2010 Bears: “championship or bust.”
The Rams game this Sunday brings with it the bigness of the Eagles game. It’s bigger, in fact, as I feel much better about these 2018 Bears entering this game than I did the 2010 Bears entering that one. Like the Eagles game, this Rams game has now also become a hinge game. My guy Scott at Barbers Chair Network put it well in their last pod, noting that before the Giants game, the Rams game felt like “a measuring-stick game.”
With the loss to the Giants, this is not just a measuring-stick game. Due to the conference implications and even a .500 2011-esque implosion season still in play (if only mathematically), this is now a must-win.
And that’s good. I’m not quite at the championship-or-bust mode with this team like I was in 2010, but I also learned from 2010 that every season is a unique chance at a championship, and you really never know when you’ll make it back.
Bears fans are probably more tense on a whole than this Bears team, which gathered at Chase Daniel’s house after the Giants loss for a family-friendly dance-and-ping-pong party. That is also good. Other than strengths and weaknesses on the field, this team is very different than 2010 in terms of trajectory and spirit.
The 2010 team had largely tasted defeat on the biggest stage and wanted another crack at the ship. The 2018 team is fast and loose and having a ball.
In that way, they’re much like 1984, which is why the 2010 Prophecy takes a back seat to the ‘84 one. In the end, I guess the lesson here is the same as the one Doc Brown gave Marty and Jennifer at the conclusion of The Trilogy: Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.
And with that, I concede that maybe, just maybe, these Bears are not following a script. Maybe they’re writing their own. Whatever the case, I’m in for the ring in 2018. And in that respect, and say it with me, Bears fans:
The Prophecy Lives!
Jack M Silverstein is Windy City Gridiron’s Bears historian, and author of “How The GOAT Was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls.” He is the proprietor of Chicago sports history Instagram “A Shot on Ehlo.” Say hey at @readjack.