After going 7-1 at home in 2018 en route to a 12-4 NFC North title, the Bears need a victory in this year's finale in Minnesota against the playoff-bound Vikings Sunday to surpass seven victories overall and avoid their fifth losing season in the past six years.
Chicago finished its Soldier Field slate with a 26-3 defeat Sunday in prime time vs. the Chiefs, who never looked back after marching 15 plays for 82 yards on their first possession — the second long, game-opening TD drive against the Bears at Soldier Field in as many games — before becoming their third consecutive opponent not to turn the ball over. The Bears managed only a field goal in their first and last games of the season at Soldier Field, where they failed to maintain last year's big edge, finishing at 4-4.
“It was definitely sloppy. There were a lot of things we gave up, especially up front and on third downs," said Khalil Mack, referring to the Chiefs converting 55 percent on the money down and only allowing one sack, Mack's 8 1/2 of the season. "Ultimately, it was not the type of ball we like to play.”
Indeed, while most of the storylines this week revolved around the Mitch Trubisky-Patrick Mahomes duel, and it, like mentor Andy Reid against mentee Matt Nagy, were as one-sided as they get, the defense wasn't of its usual caliber. It couldn't get off the field before halftime, when it allowed three scoring drives and dug a 17-0 deficit, and allowed three touchdowns in four red-zone trips.
“The track record speaks for itself. He did a lot of great things with his feet and was just throwing to guys that were open. Today was on us," said Eddie Jackson. "We gave up some third downs, and we just have to clean it up.”
But the Bears are nearly out of time to clean it up this season, and they'll finish against a Vikings team with its postseason seeding still in the balance. Minnesota hosts the division-leading Green Bay Packers Monday night and can still potentially earn the No. 3 seed, but not without earning its first victory in four tries against Matt Nagy's Bears. It's just that Nagy's Bears have never been more vulnerable.
"We all need to understand where we're at and how important it is. That's where it led us to that point, to that score, and that's why it was empty," Nagy Nagy said of a mostly empty Soldier Field late Sunday night and of his team's disappointing focus in its first game on his watch without playoff possibilities.
Injuries: Pro Bowl alternate nose guard Eddie Goldman suffered a concussion on the first defensive series and didn't return. Starting RG Rashaad Coward injured his knee and was replaced after halftime by veteran Ted Larsen. Akiem Hicks, who returned off IR following the minimum eight-week stint with a dislocated left elbow last week with the team still in contention, was ruled out Saturday night.
"We just decided that we got it looked at, had some further examinations and we just felt like after that, through all of us talking, collaborating, that was the best thing to do, so that's what we did," Nagy said of the decision after Hicks was a full practice participant in Week 16 and didn't initially show up on the injury report until Friday, when he received a questionable designation.