Chicago Bears, NFC North stumble in Week 14


The Chicago Bears and two other teams from the NFC North suffered setbacks in Week 14, leaving the only team that won – the Green Bay Packers – with a one game lead in the Black and Blue Division.

With their second winnable game in two weeks, the Chicago Bears again stumbled, losing to the Washington Redskins as kicker Robbie Gould missed a 50-yard game-tying field goal and the Bears lost 24-21.

Both sides of the ball struggled coming out of the gate, with the defense giving up touchdowns on Washington’s first two drives as the Bears’ offense stuttered, losing a fumble on one drive and punting on two others before finally striking for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

Dec 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) passes the ball against the Washington Redskins during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The defense righted the ship after the first two Washington drives, giving up only 10 points the rest of the way. Kyle Fuller snagged his second interception of the season, setting up the offense with a short field to tie the game at 21 before Washington connected on the game-winning field goal with about 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

It was another tough loss for the Bears, who, after beating the Packers on Thanksgiving night, have lost two games against beatable opponents and have seen their record drop to 5-8. Their slim postseason hopes have gone down the drain, and now they’re playing for pride. With a solid coaching staff and players playing for their future roles with the team, the Bears won’t fold now that the postseason is gone.

Two teams left on the Bears schedule also lost Sunday, with the Vikings dropping a tough Thursday night game in Arizona by a 23-20 margin.

Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dwight Freeney (54) forces a fumble on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) in the fourth quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was strip sacked with just seconds left with his team already in field goal position, leaving the Vikings in second place with an 8-5 record.

The Vikings 31st-ranked passing offense came alive in the game – Bridgewater threw for 335 yards and a touchdown – but their top-five running game struggled. Star back Adrian Peterson ran for only 69 yards on 23 carries, with 38 of those yards coming on the Vikings’ first drive.

More from Chicago Bears News

The defense, meanwhile struggled against Arizona, though they held the Cardinals to 23 points. Carson Palmer threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns, while David Johnson ran for more than 90 yards. The Vikings failed to produce a turnover, while the Cardinals forced three.

At 8-5, the Vikings are one game behind the Packers in the NFC North, and have a tough schedule the rest of the way. They host the Bears on Sunday – who they squeaked by in Chicago earlier this season – before hosting an unpredictable New York Giants team and traveling to Green Bay in the final week of the season.

Dec 13, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) runs past Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of the Packers, they were the sole NFC North team to collect a victory in Week 14, trouncing the hapless Dallas Cowboys 28-7.

A game against a weak Dallas team was all the Packers needed to get their offense right. Aaron Rodgers threw for almost 220 yards and two touchdowns, while the team finally relied on the running game. Eddie Lacy and James Starks didn’t disappoint, as they ran for 124 and 71 yards, respectively, while the team collectively ran for 230 yards.

The Packers’ defense struggled against the run – Dallas picked up 171 yards on only 20 carries – but the pass defense forced one turnover and held Matt Cassel to 114 yards.

The Packers, now at 9-4 and in first place in the NFC North by a game, have road trips to an inconsistent Raiders team and a possible playoff preview against Arizona before hosting the Vikings in Week 17.

Dec 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) tackles Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Lastly – and in last place – the Detroit Lions fell to the St. Louis Rams 21-14.

The Lions were held scoreless in the first half, while Matthew Stafford threw a pick-six to Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The Lions tied it in the third quarter on a 9-yard pass from Stafford to Golden Tate, but the Rams tallied touchdowns on the next two drives.

The Lions seem to still be playing hard despite opening the season 1-7 and sitting in last place with a 4-9 record. None of the three teams left on their schedule are in the playoff hunt, so that 4-9 record could improve considerably before the end of the season. They travel to New Orleans on Sunday, before hosting San Francisco the next week and heading to Chicago in the final week of the season.

In terms of playoff standings, the Packers, with a 9-4 record and sitting atop the division, would be the third seed if the playoffs started today.

The Vikings, meanwhile, would be the sixth seed with an 8-5 record, losing a tiebreaker to Seattle, who destroyed Minnesota two weeks ago 38-7. Fortunately for the Vikings, they have a two-game lead in the wildcard standings over the 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with three games left to play.

Barring any collapses, both the Packers and Vikings should make the postseason.

Next: 2015 Season Filled With Positives For Chicago Bears

More from Bear Goggles On