Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Fast start promising, guarantees nothing

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

Three weeks into the season is too early to start making bold predictions about potential playoff runs, but Chicago’s 3-0 start certainly bodes well for the team’s prospects.

Since 1990, 86 of 114 teams (75 percent) to start 3-0 advanced to the postseason.

“I didn’t go into the season with any expectations at all in terms of what our record was going to be or how good we were going to be,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We just went into it trying to get better every day and not be concerned with what we thought was going to happen. Right now, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re in a great place, no doubt about it, and we’ve worked very hard to get here. But there’s no light.”

There can’t be, based on recent experience. Chicago advanced to the playoffs the last three times it won three in a row to start the season, capturing at least 11 regular-season victories in each of those years, while to earning trips to the NFC Championship Game (2010) and the Super Bowl (2006). So the Bears know a fast start helps, but it doesn’t ensure anything.

The Bears didn’t start 2012 at 3-0, but they won six consecutive games to take a 7-1 record into a prime-time matchup with the Houston Texans at Soldier Field, only to fall 13-6 and lose four of the next five.

Struggling teams such as the Green Bay Packers (1-2) shouldn’t be overlooked either. Twenty-four percent of teams that started 1-2 (57 of 234) since 1990 advanced to the playoffs. Fifty-four percent of teams to start 2-1 in that span (130 of 242) also made the postseason. Along the way, they’ve got to beat somebody to catch fire and make the playoffs.

The Bears want to make sure it’s not them.

“We’ve got to play Game 1 next week of the next 13, and our guys have that mindset,” Trestman said. “They’re focused with their feet on the ground, as I’ve said over the last three weeks, just trying to get better.”