By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
It’s December, there’s a line around the block for entrance into #clubdub and the Chicago Bears have officially punched their ticket to the NFL playoffs.
Let’s get it poppin’.
No matter where you were in relation to Soldier Field Sunday afternoon, how inclined you were to do a dance on the fresh graves of the Green Bay Packers or how much of life you spent wondering whether this franchise would ever be worth rooting for again — to think, there are some very young Bears fans who are clear through a semester of fourth grade who are experiencing real pleasure with football for the first time while their nervous parents can feel better about subjecting their kids to this life we live — Chicago’s 24-17 win over the once perplexing Aaron Rodgers and his horde of cheese eaters ranks among the most satisfying wins the Bears have given us in person.
An effective precursor to this year’s Christmas celebration, the win Sunday brought with it the Bears’ first NFC North title since 2010, a clinching of a spot in the NFC postseason, an official elimination of the Packers from the postseason (for a second consecutive year) and a truly flexed on Rodgers who upon being sacked for the fifth and final time yesterday looked disheveled, his jersey stretched about and his right shoulder pad exposed to the world like a broken bone through skin.
Such imagery provides sweet syrup over the breakfast carb source of your choice on this morning, be it pancake or waffle, let’s all indulge cause it gets no sweeter than this, at least not in December. Save your salt, Green Bay, and use it to secure the roads up I-94 north and beyond, it’s gonna be a long frozen winter for y’all.
Meanwhile, the 10-4 Bears have two more weeks on the road to prepare them for the postseason, which is almost certainly looking to yield at least one home game.
At the time of the big win it seemed more likely that the home game would take place wild card weekend but given the loss on Sunday Night Football by the Rams, the Bears are now just 1 game out the second seed in the NFC with the tiebreaker to their advantage. Top-seeded New Orleans could make things even more interesting if they lose on Monday night to Carolina.
The Bears are in a good spot with a lot of self-authorship afforded to them — the final two games are winnable (at San Francisco, at Minnesota) and they may be games where the club finds itself not having to push its starters to the point of even maybe resting some key players. Even if the Bears split or somehow lose both games it would seem the No. 3 seed is theirs to have and a bit beyond the reach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Regarding upcoming rest, one such player who many would say deserves some rest would be Eddie Jackson, who reportedly gave a high sprain to his right ankle after providing the great public service of breaking Rodgers overly-regarded non-interception streak in the fourth quarter.
Both Jackson and the continually impressive edge linebacker Aaron Lynch came out early from the Packers game. A defense that has already had to say so long for now to valuable nickel back Bryce Callahan doesn’t need to take too many hits at this point of the season, though the team’s depth was showcased this week through the great play of Callahan’s replacement Sherrick McManis.
A couple more “next man up” showings would be encouraging to see over the next couple weeks, especially if they’re done strategically and not out of need. But there’s still time to size those kinds of needs up.
With the kind of team-wide excellence shown Sunday in all phases of the game an extra intense session at #clubdub — as reported by the guys right after to the post-game shows — is warranted. Sunday’s was a celebration eight years in the making, built up through feckless coaching and general managing regimes, continual scraps within the roster, playoff charges shut down in the final weeks and at least one or two of the worst, most irrelevant seasons in the history of this soon-to-be century old franchise.
You don’t have to act like you been there before if you haven’t and most of these Bears haven’t so keep dancing, Monsters of the Midway, and keep that same energy, it’s gotten you this far.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR