CHICAGO — So you’re saying there’s a chance.
The Chicago Bears are still alive — albeit, slightly — in the NFC playoff chase following Thursday’s 31-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys (6-7); a team regardless of where they finish in the abysmal NFC East appears headed for an offseason overhaul.
But the Bears owe no apologies after their most impressive win of the 2019 season — save for the game quarterback Chase Daniel came off the bench to lead Chicago to a division victory over Minnesota in Week 4.
The Bears (7-6) will head to Lambeau Field next week winners of three straight and above the .500 mark for the first time since October. Chicago entered the game with a 1.1% chance to make the playoffs, but the win increased those chances to 2.3%, per ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Chicago is certainly in the hunt for a postseason berth, but its road is arduous. The Bears finish out the season with playoff-caliber opponents in Green Bay, Kansas City and Minnesota, whereas the Packers (Redskins and Lions) and Vikings (Lions and Chargers) have much more winnable games left on their respective schedules. The Rams also currently have seven wins and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bears.
Still, the Bears are finally resembling the team many predicted they would be following last season’s surprise 12-4 record and NFC North championship.
The big question is whether the Bears waited too long to peak.
QB breakdown: Forget about last week’s game versus the Lions, Mitchell Trubisky saved his best for the Cowboys. Yes, Dallas is in complete free fall, and quite frankly, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones ought to fire defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli after Thursday night’s debacle, but the Cowboys are still a team with lots of talent. Trubisky sliced up the Cowboys’ defense all evening. The 25-year-old quarterback completed 23 of 31 pass attempts for 244 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Just as encouraging, Trubisky ran 10 times for 63 yards and a touchdown — Trubisky entered the game with 80 yards rushing on the season. Bears coach Matt Nagy even called a couple of designed runs for Trubisky; something Nagy shied away from most of the season, partly because Trubisky has played through shoulder and hip injuries. Trubisky’s 23-yard touchdown run was the longest TD run for a Bears player at home since Matt Forte in 2009, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Trubisky looked like a top-five pick on Thursday night. When is the last time the Bears could say that?
Describe the game in two words: Confidence builder. The Bears will be sky high heading into Packers week, this despite inside linebacker Roquan Smith suffering what was a pectoral injury early in the game. The Bears might be losing Smith, but they will gain Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who is expected to come off injured reserve and start next week against the Packers.
Pivotal play: Trubisky’s first touchdown pass to Allen Robinson that tied the score at 7-7. The Cowboys came out and punched the Bears in the mouth with a 17-play scoring drive to open the game. On Chicago’s ensuing drive, Trubisky tossed a brutal red zone interception that could have further rattled the team’s confidence. But Trubisky held it together and helped the Bears score the next time they had the ball.
Eye-popping NFL Next Gen Stat: Trubisky had five rushes where he reached a max speed of 15 mph. The quarterback had five such rushes in Weeks 1 through 11.