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The Light at the End of Bears Tunnel

The schedule has taken a definite shape for the Bears and here's why they can find easier sledding ahead of they simply get past the next four games.

Even back in May the stretch of the NFL schedule where the Bears currently reside looked like the key to their season.

It contained the most potential for a season-killer, the kind of losing streak they had wipe out the 2019 campaign and almost ruin their playoff hopes last year.

Facing the Buccaneers, the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in four weeks is the key because they'll be in too big of a hole if they get through this stretch without a win or possibly even with only one win. Yet, if they can split those games and emerge at Thanksgiving with a .500 record then the sun is shining on the other side.

Here's why.

One thing the Bears have shown they can do on offense is run the ball well against both above-average run defenses and weak ones. As long as they have this ability, and with a rookie quarterback needing support like a running attack and the play-action pass, they can be competitive.

It helps an aging defense stay off the field and healthier.

The Bears could have David Montgomery, Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert all up and running by the time they emerge from this five-game stretch that started with Green Bay. Maybe they'll even have right tackle Germain Ifedi back blocking, as well.

In the final seven games they face only one team in the top half of the league at stopping the run. That's Green Bay and they've already shown they can run on the Packers using a third-string running back.

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Besides the Packers ...

  • The Lions are 26th stopping the run and couldn't stop the Bears in Chicago.
  • The Vikings are on the schedule twice, rank 23rd against the run, 29th in yards allowed per attempt and even when the Bears couldn't run the ball they have found ways to run on Minnesota. Most teams facing Minnesota lack the patience to keep running when they are pitted against a potentially explosive offense but Matt Nagy has never had this issue. It's the one team he always seems to be willing to run against and run successfully. It's why he's 5-1 against Mike Zimmer, the lone loss being when they didn't have a running back to run it.
  • The New York Giants are 29th at stopping the run and cascading into oblivion again.
  • The Seattle Seahawks will definitely have Russell Wilson available by then but their run defense is 30th in the league and in the division they are in they will become afterthoughts by the start of December if they can't stop the run, regardless of who their quarterback is.
  • The Arizona Cardinals are unbeaten, it's true. Their one glaring weakness is stopping the run. They rank 23rd. It's just no one can keep up with their offense by running it alone. Remember, the purpose of the running game for the Bears. It will not only be to gain yardage but to protect and set up Justin Fields as he's developing. They would have a chance passing even against Arizona if they're also running it. Besides, it's a December game in Chicago and playing a desert team, well, you know the old Bear weather routine.

So this schedule shapes up as one where the Bears could make a serious run at the playoffs in the second half of the season, if only they find a way to survive with their heads intact while running through the current gauntlet.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven