After winning back-to-back games for the first time this season, the Bears get to clear their heads and enjoy a Week Eight bye before they return for a Monday-night game against the Eagles on Nov. 7.
Chicago is 4-3, which is the exact same record it had at this point last season. Wins over the Vikings and Buccaneers send the Bears into the bye with confidence and hope that they can overcome a shaky start and make a run in the second half of the season to get back into the playoffs for a second straight season.
The Bears seemed to have found the right formula on offense, although Mike Martz will veer away from it at times. On defense, a question that persists is whether any Bears defensive lineman will step up and be a source of pressure on quarterbacks each and every week. Yes, that includes Julius Peppers, who has been very good at times but not as consistent or as disruptive as he was last season.
It's possible that a week off will work wonders for Peppers, who suffered a sprained MCL against the Lions in Week Five. He has played better over the past two games and is still one of the elite defensive ends in the game.
But where else is the pass rush going to come from on a regular basis?
The Bears mix in some blitzes but still don't do a lot of it. DE Israel Idonije is the only other defensive end on the team with a sack this season. He has three of them. DT Henry Melton has three, too, but hasn't made one since Week Three and has only one tackle and one QB hit in the past four games. DTs Amobi Okoye and Stephen Paea are rotational players and have shown they can bring heat on occasion. Corey Wootton, who the Bears hoped would develop into a solid No. 3 defensive end, can't seem to stay healthy for very long and has played in only one game this season, missing time after preseason knee surgery and then breaking his hand in practice Oct. 6.
With QBs Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers awaiting the Bears in consecutive weeks after the bye, a quality, consistent pass rush can keep three of the league's better passers from shredding a secondary that has been suspect.
At this point, though, it's not clear if the Bears' D-line will be able to provide the necessary pressure.
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