Playoffs? Bears would have to run table

CHICAGO -- Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Bears need to essentially "run the table" in the final seven games to make the playoffs.

Isn't that exactly what Lovie Smith said at this juncture of the season in 2007 and 2008? Has time stood still here in Chicago?

Forgive me, but I'm having a difficult time believing this group can put together some magical run. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter how many games in a row the Bears won in 2005 or 2006, because those days are over. A much better comparison to this current group can be found in the last two years.

The Bears stood at an identical 4-5 mark after nine games in 2007 -- they went 3-4 the rest of the way. We should also point out those final two victories against Green Bay and New Orleans occurred after the Bears were officially bounced from playoff contention. So much for finishing strong.

Last year, Smith's team was 5-4 with seven games left on the schedule -- they went 4-3 the rest of the way. Despite being a fairly mediocre team, the Bears still had a chance to clinch a postseason berth with a win at Houston, but couldn't seal the deal.

Now the Bears have to go at least 5-2 (possibly 6-1) to have any shot to extend their season. That seems like a major long shot when you look at the remaining quality opponents on the schedule: Philadelphia, Minnesota (2), Green Bay and Baltimore.

Actually, come to think of it, these current Bears look strikingly similar to the 2007 squad -- remember, the one that went 3-4 down the stretch.

Two years ago, the Bears couldn't run, protect the quarterback, score in the red zone or consistently play good defense.

But of course, those Bears had a legitimate down-field threat in Bernard Berrian, got 17 combined sacks from Adewale Ogunleye and Tommie Harris, and six special-teams returns for touchdowns from Devin Hester.

Which leads me to a scary question: Even with Jay Cutler, are the Bears worse in 2009 than they were in 2007?

I guess we'll find out in the next seven weeks.