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Proof all is not lost for the Bears

  • If Eli Manning can lead a lethargic N.Y. Giants team to Super Bowl glory, Jay Cutler can do the same for the Bears. At least, theoretically.
If Eli Manning can lead a lethargic N.Y. Giants team to Super Bowl glory,… (Al Bello/Getty Images )
December 20, 2012|By Jack M Silverstein | For RedEye

As the Bears prepare to play Arizona on Sunday, they need other teams to lose for them to make the postseason. But just because you need help to get into the playoffs doesn't mean you can't do some damage once you're there. Here are recent teams who made a name for themselves despite entering Week 16 with similar or worse records than the Bears. In other words, it ain't over till it's over.

2008 Arizona Cardinals

Entering Week 16: 8-6

Finished: 9-7, lost Super Bowl

The Cardinals clinched their division in Week 14 and, at 8-5, were still in the race for a first-round bye. Instead, they lost their next two games by a combined score of 82-21. In danger of entering the playoffs with zero momentum, they won their final game of the season, then ripped off playoff wins over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia before losing the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh in a nail-biter.

2009 N.Y. Jets

Entering Week 16: 7-7

Finished: 9-7, lost AFC championship game

With two weeks left in the season, the Jets were one of five AFC teams at 7-7, all of whom trailed Denver (8-6) and Baltimore (8-6) in the wild card race. The Jets won their final two games, won tiebreakers over Pittsburgh and Houston, and got lucky as Denver lost its final four games. The Jets then won playoff road games over Cincinnati and San Diego before losing to Indianapolis in the AFC title game.

2010 Green Bay Packers

Entering Week 16: 8-6

Finished: 10-6, won Super Bowl

After losing two straight and watching the Bears clinch the division, a banged-up Packers team was 8-6, a game behind the 9-5 N.Y. Giants for the final wild card spot. Fortunately for the Packers, their final two games were at home, starting with the Giants, who they thrashed 45-17. To make the playoffs, they still needed to beat the Bears. They did, and you know the rest.

2011 N.Y. Giants

Entering Week 16: 7-7

Finished: 9-7, won Super Bowl

After starting 6-2, the Giants entered Week 16 at 7-7, two games behind Detroit and Atlanta in the wild card race and a game behind Dallas in the division. The Giants beat the Jets in Week 16 while the Cowboys lost to Philly, setting up a winner-takes-all showdown in the Meadowlands between the Giants and Cowboys. New York won 31-14, then rolled in the NFC playoffs before topping New England for their second Super Bowl victory in five years.

Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye.

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