How worried should Packers feel about tanking Bears post-2022?
The Bears seem likely to finish with the second worst record in the NFL this season, but a turnaround in the near future doesn't seem farfetched.
The bye week provides a prime opportunity to examine a team beyond its present circumstances. That holds especially true for the Green Bay Packers who hit the break at the latest possible week of the 2022 season.
In most years, a thorough look at the playoff field would fill a Green Bay off week. However, the 5-8 Packers need so many variables to fall their way that a postseason discussion doesn't seem pertinent, at least not at this time. Even if they win every remaining game on their schedule, their playoff odds would only improve to 40%, according to FiveThirtyEight's NFL playoff model. Running the table seems like quite the stretch given that three of the four opponents have already beaten them (Detroit Lions), currently own a winning record (Miami Dolphins), or both (Minnesota Vikings).
So, as the Packers lack a realistic path to the playoffs, the focus moves to 2023. Plenty of different factors could affect their makeup and performance next year, but those only form part of the calculation. Aaron Rodgers' interest in returning for a 19th season will headline the team's offseason followed closely by contract decisions on key veteran players like David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, and Preston Smith.
However, another matter merits serious consideration: How worried should the Packers feel about the tanking Chicago Bears in the upcoming season and beyond?
At first blush, that might feel like a peculiar question. The Bears have offered only modest resistance over the past decade and, at present, reside in the NFC North cellar. Meanwhile, both the Lions and Vikings have more working for them at the moment, the latter in particular. Chicago hasn't even completed the first season of its new regime led by general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus.
And that brain trust doesn't have much to show for its efforts thus far. In addition to a 3-10 record entering Week 14, the Bears have seen more key contributors leave this year than arrive. The front office dealt All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack for draft picks, released nose tackle Eddie Goldman for cap space, and let Akiem Hicks walk in free agency. The departures continued into the regular season, as Chicago traded defensive end Robert Quinn and off-ball linebacker Roquan Smith shortly before the Nov. 1 deadline.
But for all the problems the Bears have endured this year, they have valid reasons for optimism in 2023 and beyond. Those developments could have significant ramifications for the Packers in the near future.