Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) and linebacker Khalil Mack (52) celebrate.

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Gabriel: Next 4 Games Can Set Path For Bears

The Bears will be in prime playoff position if they take care of upcoming business.

Greg Gabriel
October 11, 2018 - 12:12 pm

(670 The Score) Few NFL head coaches peruse their 16-game schedule and look to figure out what their record will be. With so many variables involved in their job and dynamics changing week-to-week, they break the season down into small segments.

Often, those segments can be grouped in four games. The Bears just went 3-1 in the first quarter of their season and then had a bye. Through a quirk in their schedule that I don't recall ever seeing, the Bears will now play their next four games against AFC opponents. Chicago plays at Miami, hosts New England, hosts the New York Jets and plays at Buffalo.

These next four games could be make-or-break for the Bears in their quest to make the playoffs, as their schedule gets tougher in the second half of the season. The AFC East isn't as strong as it usually is, so it's quite realistic for the Bears to go 3-1 in this four-game stretch, setting them up in a quality position.

The Dolphins started 3-0 but were then routed by the Patriots and collapsed against the Bengals last Sunday. The game at Miami is really winnable for Chicago, which enters as a 3.5-point favorite. 

So long as Bill Belichick is coaching and Tom Brady is quarterbacking, the Patriots will represent a difficult matchup. But they haven't showcased their usual top form yet this season, and with the game at Soldier Field on Oct. 21, the Bears will have a fair chance to seize a win most expected would be a loss when the schedules were revealed.

The games against the Jets on Oct. 28 and the Bills on Nov. 4 represent situations in which the Bears need to take care of business, as both are led by rookie quarterbacks. 

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has flashed his potential and good football early on, but he has also had some poor games. Bills quarterback Josh Allen has also encountered struggles, though in fairness he's surrounded by what's probably the worst offensive roster in the league. The Bills have had trouble with pass protection, and their receiving corps doesn't create separation often. Against both the Jets and Bills, the Bears' pass rush will have the opportunity to create havoc.

If the Bears get to 6-2, they could play .500 football in the second half to get to 10-6, a mark that usually gains entry into the playoffs.

In this way, the Bears' schedule plays in their favor. Still learning a new system under first-year coach Matt Nagy, the Bears have more margin for error in the first half of the season, with a defense capable of carrying them to wins on its own against some foes.

Football is often a game of emotion, and this Bears team that's loaded with young talent is gaining a strong belief in what it's capable of. But to back that belief up, the Bears need to take care of business against the Dolphins in Miami this Sunday, otherwise it will be an opportunity squandered and all bets could be off.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.​​​