Don't look now, but the Chicago Bears are in the hunt

DJ Moore, Chicago Bears
DJ Moore, Chicago Bears / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

Things are looking up in Chicago. The Bears dominated the Lions 28-13 to secure back-to-back wins for the first time in the Matt Eberflus era, and in doing so, created the smallest glimmer of hope that this season could be about more than just draft positioning and the long-term evaluation of Justin Fields and the coaching staff. For the first time in a long time, the Bears are IN THE HUNT.

A 5-8 record isn't going to kickstart parade preparations down Michigan Ave., but after finishing with the worst record in the league last year, it's just nice to be in the mix. The Bears have won five of their last nine, and the schedule is, dare I say, manageable down the stretch.

The playoffs are still a long shot, but the Chicago Bears could sneak in

The Bears travel to Cleveland next week to take on the Browns and the ghost of AFC North past, Joe Flacco. Even though they're down to their fourth quarterback of the year, the Browns are in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race, and they notched an impressive win Sunday against the Jaguars. Before that, though, they dropped back-to-back games by 17 points each to the Broncos and Rams. Could the Bears win a low-scoring affair? I don't see why not.

If Chicago can pull off their third win in a row, they'll come back home for dates with the Cardinals and Falcons two teams that aren't going to be excited about leaving the comfort of home to brave the cold weather of the Windy City on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. The Cardinals upset the Steelers last week, but it's fair to wonder if they'll have one eye on the draft by the time they come to Chicago.

The Falcons have been an enigma all year, with seemingly every one of their games coming down to the wire. Is Desmond Ridder going to be able to keep from turning the ball over against a rejuvenated Bears defense? I have a hard time believing that.

This would set up a Week 18 showdown at Lambeau Field in a game that would almost certainly a) be flexed to primetime, and b) give me a Superfans-level heart attack, but I'm getting ahead of myself. There's a long way to go until then.

Thinking about making a run at the playoffs only intensifies the pain of throwing away multiple close games this year. The Bears could easily be on a four-game winning streak if not for a coaching meltdown in the last few minutes at Detroit a couple of weeks ago. They also let a win against the Broncos slip through their fingers back in Week 4. Win even one of those, and the Bears wouldn't just be in the hunt, they'd have the inside track to a Wild Card spot.

You know what, though, let's not dwell on the past. The Bears are playing really good football lately, and that's something we haven't been able to say in a long time. The defense looks incredible. Montez Sweat has made an immediate impact since coming over from the Commanders, and Jaylon Johnson is playing like a man who deserves a new contract.

Justin Fields is making his case to be the Bears' starter of the future. He hasn't been perfect, but his de facto audition is going well so far. He used his legs to great effect against Detroit, and he made a bunch of wow throws, none more exciting than the 4th and 13 strike to D.J. Moore to give the Bears the lead late in the third quarter.


The Panthers lost again, so the Bears' spot at the top of the draft is all but secured. Many Bears fans spent last December hoping the team would lose, but thanks to Carolina, that's no longer a concern. Let's see if this team can make a run. At the very least, the Bears have a chance to build positive momentum going into next year, not unlike the Lions did in closing the season strong and carrying it into this year. And who knows? The playoffs aren't out of reach yet.

It's good to be in the hunt.