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Hub Arkush: Bears are in a no-lose situation Sunday against Vikings

December 27, 2018

It’s hard to escape the feeling around town that a significant portion of Bears Nation seems to be wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth over what they perceive as a no-win situation for the Bears in their trip to Minneapolis Sunday.

Oh, woe is me, what are the Bears to do?

Should they rest everybody to get ready for the playoffs?

Do the Bears need to go all out to win the game and do everything possible to try and secure a bye?

Oh my lord, the Seahawks are red hot, and the Eagles are playing like champs again, and everyone knows how hard it is to play and beat a team like Minnesota three times in the same season.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling ...

Now relax everybody, take a nice deep breath, let it out very slowly and let’s talk this through.

Apparently, some of you have real short-term memory issues, as these 2018 Bears have already proven beyond any doubt they are no worse than the third-best team in the NFC right now, and perhaps No. 2 in the conference.

The reality is that this Sunday is a no-lose situation for the Bears because whatever happens in Minneapolis they are going to be either the second or third seed in the NFC.

Yes, there are huge advantages to being the second seed: a week off before a second-round game at home and marginally better odds of hosting the NFC title game.

But there is also this to consider: The Bears’ two worst performances of this season came after their bye in the loss in Miami and after their mini-bye coming off the Thanksgiving win in Detroit in New Jersey in the defeat to the Giants.

If you want to stretch the point, you can even argue the Bears weren’t ready to play 60 minutes in Green Bay because head coach Matt Nagy gave them the better part of the exhibition season off.

I’m not sure the last point is a winning argument, but the bottom line is the Bears just might be one of those clubs that is better in rhythm when they’re playing every weekend than when they get time off.

As to which opponent they get, again, I just don’t see that it matters all that much.

Are you worried that since they beat Minnesota and Seattle, those two clubs will watch that tape and uncover secrets as to how to compete better the second time around?

I suppose it’s possible, but it certainly doesn’t seem likely.

After all, the Bears have those tapes, too, and who’s to say they won’t adjust and beat either the Vikings or Seahawks worse this time around?

I get that there is some mystique to the Eagles as defending champs, but they are still a team that has played as much bad football as they have good football this year.

At the end of the day, the Bears could say, “Hey, the Eagles are the team we want,” go all out to beat the Vikings, and the Eagles could lose to Washington, which means Chicago still draws Minnesota wild-card weekend.

One of the smartest things Matt Nagy has talked about all season long is controlling the things you can control.

This situation is one they don’t control, and the bottom line is that whether they win their first game — no matter who they play — is up to the Bears, not their opponent.

The real question worth focusing on is do these Bears more closely resemble the 2017 Rams, a club coming off a 4-12 season with a second-year quarterback who got a new coach and went 11-5 and won a division title and has proven it was no fluke by getting even better this year?

Sound familiar?

Or are they the 2017 Jaguars, a 3-13 team the year prior that went worst to first in the AFC South last season only to fall right back to 5-10 and last place this year?

They look and feel to me a lot more like the Rams than the Jaguars, and if I’m right, it really doesn’t matter what happens this Sunday in Minnesota.

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