Suffice to say, the Bears emerged from their bye Monday in a better mood than when it began.
After their Week 6 break started with a long trip home from London on the heels of that embarrassing defeat to the Oakland Raiders, their preparations for Week 6 open with the knowledge that their remaining 7 non-divisional games include only two against teams with winning records — the 5-1 New Orleans Saints, who'll be led into Soldier Field Sunday by QB2 Teddy Bridgewater, and in Week 16 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Andy Reid and Matt Nagy's first season there, in 2013.
Indeed, it was a rough Sunday for many of the league's supposed contenders, with all of the Bears' opponents between Weeks 7-16 outside of the NFC North — the Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys — losing, including all but the Eagles going down as favorites.
The flip side is that the Minnesota Vikings were the team taking care of business at home — and convincingly — vs. the Eagles, whose pass 'D' looks even worse than the unit the Bears couldn't exploit for more than a half during the wild-card defeat in January. And Week 6 officially closes tonight with the 4-1 Green Bay Packers hosting the upstart 2-1-1 Detroit Lions for early supremacy in what looks like the best division in football.
But the premise before the season that the Bears required a fast start in the supposed softer portion of the slate in order to maximize their margin of error during what's supposed to be tougher tests later on might have been a bit flawed. (Imagine that, schedule takes in the spring aren't being validated in the fall!)
The bottom line: the Bears' remaining schedule outside the division isn't as daunting, and they remain alive and well at 3-2. Of course, they'll have to overcome a few additional changes to stay that way, including the season-ending injury to RG Kyle Long and, at best, an extended absence from D-line lynchpin Akiem Hicks, of whom Matt Nagy said only Monday Morning on WBBM that they're hopeful he can return this season . The Bears also need Mitch Trubisky, coming off injury, to rediscover last year's form, never mind still take the proverbial next step.
But it's all still there for the taking, after many expected it to feel slightly less attainable for the Bears exactly one week ago.
This article originally ran on profootballweekly.com.