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Small Steps Ahead for Realistic Bears

The possibility of being back in the playoff chase is still more of a dream for the Bears than anything as they might trail by only a game but there are five teams ahead of them in the mediocre mess known as the NFC.

To his credit, Matt Nagy was not standing up at the podium on Monday and imitating Jim Mora's famous rant, when the former NFL coach was asked about the playoffs and his struggling Indianapolis Colts team.

That rant was, of course: "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game." Last week marked the 20th anniversary of Mora's moment of realism.

Instead, Nagy saw the games on Sunday while the Bears had their mini-bye, noted their 4-7 record after a win over the Lions and did wonder what might have been. However, he had to also face the facts about their schedule.

The massive glob of mediocrity in the NFC has the Bears only one game out of the last playoff spot, but in reality they might as well be miles behind with a week left. There are five teams ahead of them and they have only two wins over NFC teams, so their playoff tiebreaker possibilities are virtually zero.

"When you look at really the NFL in general, the parity of this league, it’s so crazy when you look at these games and how they go," Nagy said. "Again, I was able to do it yesterday and just kind of you get to see what games are like on a Sunday and how the games start out and how they finish. And then you look at the records and you see that, I don't know the number, but it seems like half the teams in the league have five, six or seven losses. And so I think that shows the parity in this league."

In the NFC, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta and New Orleans all have five wins already and the Vikings are in the last playoff spot. The Bears play the Vikings twice yet.

The Washington Football Team has a better record than the Bears, as well, at 4-6.

So it takes an awful lot of imagination to consider the Bears still in the hunt despite that one single game in the standings. 

Then again, the Miami Dolphins in the AFC are in the middle of a four-game winning streak after they were buried at 1-7. 

Resurrections happen. They just don't usually happen when you're playing the Cardinals (9-2) and the Packers (9-3) in successive weeks like the Bears will do on the next two Sundays.

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"At the same point in time, the biggest thing for us was to make sure that we snapped that losing streak," Nagy said. "And when you snap that losing streak now, you come back in, you reset and now you have to start back to 1-0.

"Now, you get to start with one of the best teams in the NFL coming off a bye week. That's a heck of a challenge. But when you break that losing streak, the mentality, it just helps you. That's just natural. You feel better about it, no matter how it comes. And so to see that, that you're one game out, with all of those teams that are in that mix for that last spot, I don't care who you are. If you're a competitor, you care about that."

Caring about it and doing something about it can be separate things considering the opposition this week. Nagy always has been that glass half-full guy.

"Let's have a little streak here," Nagy said. "If you go out and you play a great game and you beat a great team like the Cardinals, what that can do for your confidence and your belief. And then all of that other stuff handles itself, because there are a lot of teams in that mix, and there are a lot of things we can’t control. What we can control is winning on Sunday."

Speculation, positivity and negativity can be dangerous elements in the NFL. The best approach is what Nagy has said and that's to take on the task at hand.

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka always used to bring up the old idiom former ABC announcer and Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith liked.

"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas."

"Yeah, and that's for every team in the league," Nagy said. "All of these teams, you look at it, and you say, man if we ... if, if, if. Well the ifs don't matter. We didn't win those. We lost them."

The two painful ones were the Steelers game when the Bears lost due to a last-minute scoring drive and handful or terrible officiating calls, and the Baltimore game when they scored on a miracle fourth-and-11 touchdown bomb but blew the lead in a minute and lost.

"And so no matter how we lose them, no matter how we win, our record right now is 4-7, and the goal is to be 5-7," Nagy said.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven