The 6-4 Chicago Bears look to get a win that would go a long way to helping their playoff chances, on the road (but not too far away) against the 4-6 St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Let's take an overall look at where things currently stand for the Bears as they head into this game, looking at the NFC North and NFC standings in general, the Bears' remaining schedule, the Bears' health situation, statistical leaders on the Bears, and much more (including grades and statistics from Pro Football Focus).


(Via ESPN.Com)

With the Bears beating the Baltimore Ravens last week at Soldier Field, and the Detroit Lions losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bears picked a game back up on the Lions in the division.

While it appears on the surface that the teams are tied for first place in the NFC North (you know, going by the whole same record thing), the Bears are essentially still a game behind the Lions, as the Lions locked up the head-to-head tiebreaker by going 2-0 vs the Bears this season. But, it was still big of the Bears to pick up a game on the Lions. Now the Bears are only forced to win one more game than the Lions to win the NFC North.

And let's not count out the Green Bay Packers, provided Aaron Rodgers returns in the near future. The Packers should beat the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau this weekend, and they're hopeful that Rodgers can go vs the Lions in Detroit on Thursday (Thanksgiving, of course). That seems to be on the more optimistic than realistic side right now for the Packers, though.

For the Bears right now, they'd probably rather Rodgers is able to return and help beat the Lions. Then again, we know a Rodgers-led Packers team can go on a major run, and the Bears don't want a red-hot Packers team coming into Soldier for week 17 (potentially with both teams fighting for a playoff spot) either. So, be careful what you wish for as a Bears fan on that front.

Now, let's look at the NFC Wild Card race in regards to the Bears:

The well-documented no-call at the end of the Carolina Panthers-New England Patriots game was a bad thing for the Bears' Wild Card hopes, as they remain a full game behind the Panthers now, with the Panthers 2.5 games up on them in NFC conference record (the tiebreaker) as well. And with that in mind, this upcoming stretch for the Bears (three straight games vs NFC teams) is especially huge for the Bears for conference record.

The San Francisco 49ers lost in week 11 and have some clear issues on offense, but I still have a hard time seeing them win less than 10 games or so.

The Arizona Cardinals are now 6-4, but their last three wins came against the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars. They're 0-3 in the NFC West, and still have three divisional games remaining, with two of those being vs the 49ers (which means one of them has to lose) and Seattle Seahawks.

Remaining Schedule

Week 12- at St. Louis Rams (4-6)

Week 13- at Minnesota Vikings (2-8)

Week 14- vs Dallas Cowboys (5-5); Monday Night Football

Week 15- at Cleveland Browns (4-6); Game could be flexed to Sunday Night

Week 16- at Philadelphia Eagles (6-5); Game could be flexed to Sunday Night

Week 17- vs Green Bay Packers (5-5); Game could be flexed to Sunday Night

Not a scary remaining schedule on paper, but given the Bears' injuries and defensive issues, we know every game will be a grind. Every remaining game should be treated as a must-win, but these next three are particularly important for NFC conference record as we said earlier.

The week 16 game in Philadelphia is looking more difficult each week as quarterback Nick Foles currently has that offense rolling. That game, along with the week 17 game vs the Packers, are looking like very possible games to be flexed to Sunday Night Football.

Bears' Injury Report

Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, Stephen Paea, and Jeremiah Ratliff won't play vs the Rams; we wrote much more about this earlier in the week.

Safety Craig Steltz appeared to suffer a severe concussion against the Ravens, but he was able to participate in practice on Thursday and Friday, and is listed as 'questionable'. The Bears seem optimistic he'll be cleared to play, but you never know with concussion protocol.

Nickel back Isaiah Frey broke a bone in his hand against the Ravens, but it sounds like he'll wear a cast and still play through the injury. He had full participation in practice on Friday and is listed as 'probable'.

TDefensive end Shea McClellin is listed as 'probable' after missing the last two games a hamstring injury, and long-snapper Patrick Mannelly is listed as 'probable' after missing the last two games with a calf injury. Also, offensive tackle Jordan Mills is 'probable' with a calf injury.

Bears' Statistical Leaders

Note: Overall NFL ranking in parentheses; Bears players placed on Injured Reserve are not included.

Passing Stats

Jay Cutler: 167-265, 63.0 Completion %, 1,908 Yards, 7.20 Yards/Attempt, 239 Yards/Game, 13 TD, 8 INT, 12 Sacks Taken, 88.4 QB Rating (10th), 91.11 PFF QB Rating (6th).

Josh McCown: 61-101, 60.4 Completion %, 754 Yards, 7.5 Yards/Attempt, 185.5 Yards/Game, 5 TD, 0 INT, 5 Sacks Taken, 100.0 QB Rating.

Rushing Stats (Top 4)

Matt Forte: 175 Carries (Tied for 6th), 774 Yards (6th), 4.4 Yards/Carry (7th), 77.4 Yards/Game (6th), 7 TD (Tied for 4th), 1 Fumble, 1 Fumble Lost, 40 1st Downs (5th), 34.1 Breakaway Percentage (12th).

Michael Bush: 35 Carries, 74 Yards, 2.1 Yards/Carry, 8.2 Yards/Game, 1 TD, 0 Fumbles, 3 1st Downs.

Jay Cutler: 18 Carries, 92 Yards, 5.1 Yards/Carry, 11.5 Yards/Game, 1 Fumble, 0 Fumbles Lost, 5 1st Downs.

Alshon Jeffery: 12 Carries, 111 Yards, 9.3 Yards/Carry, 11.1 Yards/Game, 0 Fumbles, 6 1st Downs.

Receiving Stats (Top 5)

Brandon Marshall: 64 Receptions (6th), 103 Targets (7th), 828 Yards, 12.9 Yards/Reception, 8 TD (Tied for 6th), 82.8 Yards/Game, 166 Yards After Catch, 44 1st Downs (Tied for 5th), 2.20 Yards Per Route Run Receiver Rating (14th).

Alshon Jeffery: 54 Receptions, 96 Targets (10th), 818 Yards, 15.1 Yards/Reception, 3 TD, 81.8 Yards/Game, 198 Yards After Catch, 37 1st Downs.

Matt Forte: 49 Receptions, 62 Targets, 374 Yards, 7.6 Yards/Reception, 1 TD, 37.4 Yards/Game, 342 Yards After Catch, 15 1st Downs.

Martellus Bennett: 42 Receptions, 64 Targets, 469 Yards, 11.2 Yards/Reception, 4 TD, 46.9 Yards/Game, 257 Yards After Catch, 26 1st Downs.

Earl Bennett: 14 Receptions, 23 Targets, 115 Yards, 8.2 Yards/Reception, 2 TD, 11.5 Yards/Game, 21 Yards After Catch, 6 1st Downs.

Tackling Stats (Top 5)

Major Wright: 71 Tackles (52 Solo, 19 Ast), 0 Tackles For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles.

Lance Briggs: 64 Tackles (47 Solo, 17 Ast), 8 Tackles For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 11.2 Run Stop Percentage (2nd).

James Anderson: 61 Tackles (51 Solo, 10 Ast), 7 Tackles For Loss, 0 Forced Fumbles.

Chris Conte: 49 Tackles (40 Solo, 9 Ast), 1 Tackle For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble.

Tim Jennings: 36 Tackles (29 Solo, 7 Ast), 0 Tackles For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles.

Pass-Rushing Stats (Top 4 in Sacks)

Note: QB hit and QB hurry stats are via PFF.

Julius Peppers: 4 Sacks, 2 Quarterback Hits, 19 Quarterback Hurries.

Shea McClellin: 3.5 Sacks, 5 Quarterback Hits, 10 Quarterback Hurries.

Lance Briggs: 2 Sacks, 3 Quarterback Hits, 1 Quarterback Hurry.

Corey Wootton: 2 Sacks, 2 Quarterback Hits, 20 Quarterback Hurries, 9.0 Pass Rush Productivity (13th among defensive tackles if he had enough snaps to qualify).

Coverage Stats

Tim Jennings: 3 INT, 2 INT Returned For TD (Tied for 1st), 9 Pass Deflections, 60.4 QB Rating Allowed (Tied for 8th among cornerbacks).

Chris Conte: 2 INT, 5 Pass Deflections.

Major Wright: 2 INT, 1 INT Returned For TD (Tied for 4th), 3 Pass Deflections.

Zack Bowman: 1 INT, 3 Pass Deflections.

Special Teams Stats

Devin Hester: 30 Kick Returns (1st), 847 Yards (2nd), 28.2 AVG (6th);  12 Punt Returns, 159 Yards, 13.3 AVG, 1 TD (Tied for 1st).

Robbie Gould: 19-20 On Field Goals (95.0 %; 4th), Long Field Goal Of 58 Yards (1st).

Adam Podlesh: 45 Punts, 42.6 AVG, 39.2 NET, Long Punt Of 65 Yards, 17 Punts Inside The 20.

Bears Grades From Pro Football Focus

Before looking at some grades of individual players on the Bears, let's look at Pro Football Focus' cumulative Bears grades (combining the grades of each player that apply) in specific departments through week nine.

Note: Bears players placed on Injured Reserve are not included.

Bears Cumulative PFF Grades

Offense Overall: +20.5 (13th)

Passing Offense: +32.0 (6th)

Rushing Offense: +3.2 (18th)

Pass Blocking: -44.2 (31st)

Run Blocking: +10.5 (5th)

Penalties (On Offense): +19.0 (Tied for 6th)

Defense Overall: -77.5 (30th)

Run Defense: -53.4 (32nd)

Pass Rush: -13.9 (25th)

Pass Coverage: -16.9 (21st)

Penalties (On Defense): +6.7 (21st)

Special Teams: +4.4 (22nd)

And here's some PFF grades of individual players on the Bears...

Bears Individual Player PFF Grades

Top 5 Overall Grades On Offense: 

1. WR Brandon Marshall, +19.0 (1st)
2. QB Josh McCown, +13.3 (7th, if Qualified)
3. WR Alshon Jeffery, +8.4 (16th)
4. QB Jay Cutler, +7.5 (10th)
5. OG Matt Slauson, +7.0 (14th)

Bottom 5 Overall Grades On Offense:

1. OT Jordan Mills, -25.4
2. HB Michael Bush, -5.2
3. TE Martellus Bennett, -4.8
4. OG Kyle Long, -3.0
5. WR Earl Bennett, -2.2

Top 5 Overall Grades On Defense:

1. DT Stephen Paea, +2.8
T-2. LB Lance Briggs, +2.5
T-2. DE Cheta Ozougwu, +2.5
4. CB Tim Jennings, +2.1
5. DT Christian Tupou, +1.3

Bottom 5 Overall Grades On Defense:

1. S Major Wright, -20.9
2. DE Shea McClellin, -14.0
3. DT Landon Cohen, -9.3
4. S Chris Conte, -7.4
5. LB James Anderson, -4.8

Top 3 Overall Grades On Special Teams:

1. K Robbie Gould, +14.3
2. LB Blake Costanzo, +5.5
3. KR Devin Hester, +4.5 (+3.0 as kick returner; +2.0 as punt returner)

Bottom 3 Overall Grades On Special Teams:

1. P Adam Podlesh, -5.4
2. HB Michael Ford, -4.6
3. CB Zack Bowman, -3.5

Our Overall Take

Last week's victory over the Ravens in overtime was huge, particularly when you consider that the Bears trailed 10-0 in the game, and with the Ravens having first and goal on the final drive of regulation (we all thought the Ravens were coming away with a game-winning touchdown there). Add in the Lions losing to the Steelers, and it was a pretty good week for the Bears.

But, the injuries keep piling up, and can we trust Josh McCown to keep playing this well while Jay Cutler is out? Well, I'm done doubting the guy, at least in this Marc Trestman offense and with all of the offensive weapons in place to help McCown succeed.

The Lions (face the 2-8 Buccaneers at home) and Packers (face the 2-8 Vikings at home) are each likely to come away with wins this week, so the Bears really need to find a way to come away with a win against the Rams to keep pace in the NFC North.

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