It’s still too early to say there’s a front-runner in the NFC North, but you can say it’s a two-team race.
With the Green Bay Packers loss to Tampa Bay and the Chicago Bears victory over Carolina, the two rivals are locked in a tie — at least in the loss column — for the division lead.
Right now, it appears Chicago is a playoff team. Yeah, the Bears win ugly and every outing is more nail-biting than a toddler teething, but they’re winning. Playoff teams have a way of being sneaky towards the end of the season, so the Packers best be wary.
Are the Chicago Bears legitimate contenders in the NFC North?
Let’s say what we know thus far: the Bears have one loss, average 21.3 points per game and haven’t beaten a team by more than seven. The defense, the team’s identity, has allowed 19.3 points allowed per outing.
But how long can this work? Perhaps all season.
Since Matt Nagy’s arrival, the Bears mantra have been known for their conservative, defensive style of play. In 2018, they led the league in few yards per game (299.7), fewest rushing yards (80.0) and fewest points allowed (17.3).
The Bears’ 2020 defense isn’t to this level, but it’s barely on the outside looking in.
Chicago has allowed 27 scores through six games. Of the 27 scoring drives, 18 have gone for field goals and nine for touchdowns. Four of their six outings have ended with the offense scoring one lone touchdown on the afternoon, leaving it up to special teams to pick up the victory.
Of the Bears’ final 10 opponents, only four have winning records (two games against Green Bay). The best offense they’ll face is the Titans, who currently rank No. 2 in total yards per game (422.2). Against NFC North rivals, Green Bay is consistent on both sides while the Vikings and Lions are middling offensively.
Keeping the ball in Nick Foles’ hands should run down the clock. After that, it’s up to the defense to win the third-down battles and get off the field. It’s clear though the Bears have a plan to contend in 2020 and with Foles, they feel better about it.