Every Monday and Thursday, we put out a call for questions from fans for my twice-weekly "Ask Hub" columns, which appear in our exclusive subscriber newsletters.
One loss to the Giants, and I kid you not, the majority of the questions I received last Monday were "can the Bears still make the playoffs?" ... or "are they for real?" ... and "were the first 11 weeks a fluke?"
Yes, the Bears were the better team and should not have lost to the Giants. But Chase Daniel was awful, Matt Nagy made some bad, logic-defying decisions and the Bears' No.1 ranked NFL run defense picked a bad day to throw in a stinker.
Before you cancel your season tickets and sell your PSLs, you might want to note that while the Giants aren’t really very good, they are getting better fast. It was their third win in four weeks — and should have been the fourth straight if not for their own mystifying meltdown a week earlier against the Eagles.
The Giants beat the Bears with a pick-six and a trick play – a 49-yard TD pass from one wideout to another. It’s not like the defense fell apart.
You might also note the Bears were riding a five-game win streak. It’s really hard to win five straight in the NFL, and it's that much harder to make it six.
And with everybody else in the division losing, the Bears actually came out of the loss in better shape than when they went into the game because they maintained their exact same grip on the NFC North with one less week left to defend it.
The head coach isn’t worried.
“You’re thankful for where this team has come to," Nagy said Sunday. "And so I appreciate all the hard work that our guys have put into this season.
“We have grown men. We have leaders. We have guys that will be up for this challenge.
“I have zero concern at all, regardless. I’m talking about the rest of the year. I have zero concern with how this team will react.”
In this case, I think he’s right, but let’s talk about what really matters because the loss to the Giants doesn’t.
Where is Mitch Trubisky’s health, how soon will he return and how soon can he be 100 percent?
No, Trubisky isn’t Brady, Brees or Rodgers, nor is he even Goff, Wentz, Watson or Mahomes yet. But he’s coming fast, and Nagy’s offense is built around his God-given gifts — tools that Daniel doesn’t possess.
Asked Monday if Trubisky would be ready for the Rams Sunday night, Nagy said, “I can't say that for sure.
“If he feels like and we feel like it's an opportunity for him to go out there and he's going to be good and safe and our team is good and safe with him in there, then that's what we'll do.”
If the Vikings lose at Seattle Monday night — and they will be the underdogs — the Bears will be the only team in the NFC North that can still win 10 games, and all they need to get there is to go 2-2 down the stretch.
If Trubisky is back for the Rams game, that's great. But as long as he’s back for the Packers game, the Bears will finish no worse than 10-6 and win the NFC North.
Yes, they’ve played one of the weakest schedules in the league, their ground game and Nagy’s attitude toward it is a Rubik’s cube and the ‘D,’ though still one of the three best in the league, has struggled to finish in recent weeks.
But December and January bring out the best in good teams, and these Bears really are much- improved talent-wise and do some things better than anyone else.
Most importantly, the Bears are No. 1 in the NFL in turnover/takeaway ratio at plus-12 and tops in the league in takeaways with 30 — three more than Cleveland and five more than Miami, which rank second and third, respectively, and at least eight more than any other team in the league.
These Bears are a playoff team, and if their QB gets healthy and they figure out their ground game, they might even win a playoff game or two.