After winning seven of the first eight games of the 2012 NFL season, the Chicago Bears appeared to be the team to beat in the NFC. Their trademark defense was back to form and the offense was given a significant boost with the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Everything appeared to be heading in the right direction for the Bears with the NFC North division lead and talk of being a legitimate Super Bowl title contender.
Unfortunately, the promising start didn’t carry over into the second half of the season. After losing to the Houston Texans in Week 10, the Bears headed into a downward spiral losing five of the next seven games and ultimately conceding the division title to the rival Green Bay Packers.
Coming into the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions in Week 17, the Bears’ playoff hopes are on the line once again with a win needed over the Lions and a loss by the Minnesota Vikings to the Packers to clinch a playoff berth in the NFC.
One major concern for the Bears heading into this matchup with the Lions is the playing status of running back Matt Forte.
In the win over the Arizona Cardinals last week, Forte went down with an injured right ankle once again. The veteran running back left early in the second half against the Cardinals and didn’t return after rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Without Forte coming out of the backfield on Sunday in Detroit, Jay Cutler will have to shoulder the load offensively and will likely take his fair share of shots from the Lions’ defense in the process. Cutler remains optimistic about Forte’s playing status heading into Week 17 according to ESPNChicago’s Michael C. Wright via Twitter:
Cutler said Forte is “walking around OK. I think he’s optimistic he’ll play.”
— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) December 26, 2012
It remains to be seen whether or not Forte will be good to go for this weekend, but the Bears will need him on the field if they expect to come out on top against the Lions. Cutler is not only optimistic about Forte’s return, but he’s likely counting on it as it will take a lot of pressure off the veteran quarterback with Ndamukong Suh coming for him all day long on Sunday.