The Bears are the NFL’s biggest underdog this weekend.
They can feel it.
‘‘We’ve got nothing to lose,’’ quarterback Mitch Trubisky said this week. ‘‘We know everybody is overlooking us. They have [done so] the back half of the season. I think we’ve been just playing with that edge, that chip on our shoulder. We don’t have anything to lose.’’
The host Saints are favored to win by 9½ points Sunday, a wider margin than even the Buccaneers over 7-9 Washington.
While it’s the largest point spread the Bears have faced this season, the feeling is absolutely familiar. In 16 regular-season games, the Bears were picked to lose a whopping 13 times and won six of those games.
Beating the Saints would be something new, however. The Bears were picked to lose by a field goal or more eight times this season; their only victory in those games came at home against the Buccaneers.
‘‘People always say to count us out,’’ receiver Anthony Miller said Thursday. ‘‘But we’ve got a strong group of guys that are ready to compete. We’re just ready to play on Sunday.’’
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack was channeling his inner Michael Jordan when he talked about what motivated him.
‘‘Me personally, I always feel like an underdog,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s just in me. A lot of these guys do, as well, man. It’s a lot of disrespect that we have been hearing. So, obviously, you have to use all of that to your advantage.’’
What disrespect? From whom?
‘‘Um, maybe I’m making it up,’’ Mack said. ‘‘Maybe I’m not. We just hear certain things and take offense to it in the right ways. Use it to your advantage.’’
Playoff teams using the ‘‘nobody believes in us’’ mantra is nothing new. Three years ago, Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long wore a dog mask after postseason victories to celebrate the team’s underdog status.
The Bears, however, are underdogs for a reason. They beat one team all season that finished with a winning record. They agonized through a six-game losing streak before winning three in a row after bringing Trubisky off the bench and unleashing running back David Montgomery behind a retooled offensive line. They lost to the rival Packers by 19 on Sunday but backed into the playoffs.
The Saints, meanwhile, have quarterback Drew Brees. Star receiver Michael Thomas and punt returner Deonte Harris came off injured reserve Wednesday, and Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara could come off the COVID-19 list in time to play.
Coach Matt Nagy is hesitant to play the underdog card. He rather would focus on what good could come of the Bears rallying together, no matter the odds.
‘‘The way we look at this is that you’re just talking about a belief in each other,’’ he said. ‘‘I think that’s the only thing that you can really worry about. Our record is 8-8. They have their own record. They have their own success and their own history, so that’s why that is what it is. . . .
‘‘Each person — every player, every coach — has their own type of motivation. For us, I really believe that it just comes down to one thing: belief in each other. When you believe in each other, whether that’s the coaches or the players or vice versa, great things can happen in those three hours.’’
Trubisky rattled off what the Bears needed to do during those three hours: to do their jobs, to master game-plan details and to play hard and with passion.
Say this, though: If there’s pressure on them, it’s not from the outside world.
‘‘If we do that, I think we’ll give ourselves a good chance,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘But we’ve gotta come in playing smart and play disciplined football. But that doesn’t mean coming in being uptight, I think.
‘‘Go in and play free, like we’ve got nothing to lose.’’