By Dave Wischnowsky–
You’ve worried about the offense.
And, now, you’ve worried about the defense.
You’ve sweated the offensive line, stressed out about the quarterback and rubbed your temples over the coaching decisions.
Ever since Week 1 – heck, preseason Week 1 – the Chicago Bears’ warts have had you worrying just like one.
But, today, Bears fans, it’s time to finally stop.
Life’s just too short.
(And football seasons are, too.)
During the past four months, Chicago has worried itself silly over the struggles and successes of its football team. So, with the Bears now sitting pretty after Sunday’s wild 38-34 victory – while Rex Ryan and the Jets suffer the agony of Da Feet – the next seven days for fans need to just be about enjoying the most unexpected 11-4 record in recent memory (and maybe ever).
Let’s let the Packers do all the worrying this week.
Because, no matter what happens this coming Sunday during the regular season finale in Green Bay, the Bears already are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and already are guaranteed a postseason home game.
The Pack, meanwhile, is guaranteed nothing. They need to win simply to get in.
Now, sure, while a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs – something the Bears would secure if they win on Sunday – would be sweet and provides a great a reason for the Bears to play hard at Lambeau. But it’s hardly a reason to let football stress ruin your New Year’s celebration.
So, for one weekend at least, party like it’s 1985.
After all, you’ve earned it.
Throughout this topsy-turvy Bears season – which featured a winless preseason, a three-win September, a one-win October and now seven wins in the last eight games – Chicago has barely been able to catch its breath.
But it’s time to exhale.
“We’re getting more used to things that we need to do,” Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler said on Sunday after he looked like an actual franchise quarterback and the Bears an actual NFL offense. “You can’t come out in Week 1 and expect to be firing on all cylinders. We needed some experience, see how it looks and know how to react. Now, everything’s starting to come together. It’s fun out there.”
With Cutler finally earning his paycheck – and the Bears’ offensive line doing the same – Chicago showed on Sunday why it can be a true threat to reach the Super Bowl if its offense is clicking.
By putting together a stellar second half against the Jets’ fifth-ranked defense, Cutler finished Sunday’s game with three TDs and a passer rating of 104.2 (way up from his meager 43.2 at halftime). The shaggy-haired quarterback is now a clean-cut 21-0 in his career when his rating exceeds 100.
Granted, the Bears had a rough day on the other side of the ball versus the Jets, giving up 34 points and prompting linebacker Lance Briggs to quip, “It was a real defensive struggle – both defenses struggled.” But you can still expect the Bears’ defense to show up when it counts, which it did when Chris Harris picked off Mark Sanchez to secure the win.
Expect the Bears’ defense to be there when it counts in Green Bay this coming Sunday, too. And rather than worrying about it, let the Packers spend all week covering that.
You, on the other hand, should just enjoy New Year’s.
And save your stress for the playoffs.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.