Bears need blowout, no regression against Jaguars as Packers loom in season finale

Squeaking past the one-win Jaguars with something along the lines of a 16-13 win isn’t good enough if the Bears are serious about fighting for a playoff spot.

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Mack (left) has played just two playoff games in seven NFL seasons. Nagy (right) likely needs to get the Bears there to keep his job.

AP Photos

This seems like something that doesn’t need to be said, but no assumption is safe with this Bears team, so here it is: They can’t possibly lose this game.

The Bears have veered off the road so many times over the last two seasons that it’s difficult to choose which loss was the ugliest, but they would outdo them all if they fall flat Sunday against the Jaguars.

That simply can’t happen. If this last-ditch push for the playoffs ends with them getting pummeled by the Packers next week, so be it. There’s at least a shred of dignity in losing to a championship contender. But to blow it against a Jaguars team that needs to keep losing to secure the No. 1 pick? There can’t be a rock bottom lower than that.

Games such as this seem like they only matter if the Bears lose, but that’s not the case. There’s absolutely something for them to gain in Jacksonville.

What the Bears need is to deliver a thoroughly convincing performance on both sides of the ball — exactly what they did two weeks ago against the Texans.

“It’s important because you feel really good in practice [and] you feel like on game day things are clicking, so you don’t want to get to that point where you have a stalemate and all of a sudden you have one of those games where it doesn’t go well,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The ultimate goal is for us to keep doing what we’re doing and build off of that momentum and just keep getting better and better and better, which gives our team the best chance to win.”

If their recent resurgence is -legitimate, rather than just cashing in on a soft part of their schedule, the Bears can provide some evidence by doing to the Jaguars what they couldn’t do to similar lightweights early in the season.

The Bears were down 23-6 in the opener against a Lions team that eventually saw its coach and general manager fired and would have lost had rookie running back D’Andre Swift not dropped a touchdown pass with six seconds left. They eked one out against the Giants in a game that also went down to the final play. And they needed an insane rally to come back from a 26-10 fourth-quarter deficit (and a 99.3% chance of losing, according to ESPN’s algorithm) to edge the Falcons.

Those three opponents are a combined 14-27.

The Jaguars are even worse, but they’re still dangerous. Not only have they been within one score in six of their losses, including taking the Vikings to overtime three weeks ago, but they’ve put a scare into several playoff-bound teams:

† They upset the Colts (now 10-4) in the season opener, holding them to just three points in the second half.

† They had a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field in Week 10 before losing to the Packers (11-3).

† The Titans (10-4) needed a field goal in the final two minutes to beat them in Week 2.

The Bears can’t allow themselves to slide into a game like that. Confidence has been key during their rebound, and sneaking out of Jacksonville with a 16-14 win or something along those lines would undermine the progress they’ve made at the worst possible time.

Their playoff hopes hinge on the season finale against the Packers, and they need to be riding into that game feeling unstoppable. Blasting the Jaguars will fuel their momentum, but a regression will call everything into question.

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