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Better for Bears’ confidence that Packers pulled out last-gasp victory

When the Lions led the Packers 20-0 Thursday night, there had to be space in even the most rabid Bears fan’s brain for the thought, “Well, this isn’t good.’’

Of course the best thing for the Bears’ playoff chances would have been a loss by Green Bay. But another loss would have continued to paint the picture of a team in its death throes and lessened the Bears’ sweet victory inside Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night.

The Packers did come roaring back, winning on a Hail Mary pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers on the last play of the game. That “Airplane”-approved Rodgers-Rodgers connection might have saved the Packers’ season. And, dare I say it, the almost-phantom face-mask penalty that set up the play wasn’t the worst thing in the world for the Bears.

Now they’ll bring the momentum of a quality victory to Soldier Field on Sunday to face a struggling 49ers team. And we’ll get to see how the team deals with success. The Bears have won three of their past four games (and five of eight), a stunning turnaround after they had lost their first three games by a combined 59 points. There is nothing in the NFL’s convoluted tie-breaking procedures that gives weight to degree of difficulty, so it matters not that those three losses came to tough outs in Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle.

But the victory over the Packers should provide some inspiration as the Bears head to the soft part of their schedule. Time for them to prove they’re in a different class than San Francisco, Washington, Tampa Bay and Detroit, which still can’t hide their innate Lion-ness. Only Minnesota, at 8-4, has a winning record.

The Bears are 5-6, bobbing in a sea full of other teams fighting mediocrity. Are they better than that? Or have we been artificially inflating their worth? Time to find out.