GREEN BAY—It's crunch time for the Chicago Bears.
A Bears team many selected as the preseason favorite to win the NFC North this season, is facing a game at Lambeau Field this Sunday that could breathe new life into the Bears' season, or all but kill what's left of the team's flickering playoff hopes.
What's the mindset for this game?
"Same mindset for here on out. We have to win every game. It's time to hunker down and get serious … and come game time, not shoot ourselves in the foot," star running back Matt Forte said.
At 3-5, any chance of contending for the division title rests on a win over the Packers. The last time the two teams met, in Chicago in Week 4, the Bears pounded out 496 yards, but lost, 38-17.
"We turned the ball over a couple of times. At the end of the half, we weren't able to get into the end zone on the last play," Coach Marc Trestman said during an interview with Packers media on Wednesday.
When it was suggested to Trestman a win on Sunday would put the Bears back into the thick of things, Trestman said: "We're not concerned about the thick of things. We're completely focused on the Packers."
Forte's having one of his best seasons. He rushed for 122 yards in that Week-4 loss, and he's the league's fifth-leading rusher with 562 yards at midseason. He's also caught 58 passes for 490 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bears' problems have been mainly on defense, the side of the ball on which the team concentrated improvement during the offseason. The Bears defense is No. 21 in total yardage, but an alarming 29th in points allowed per game.
"Where we were after the San Francisco game … is not where we are after the last two games," Trestman said. The Bears were torched for 51 points by the Patriots most recently.
"Losing the turnover battle is probably the main thing," Forte said in explaining the Bears' failures. "Throughout the games we've lost, we've lost the turnover battle."
The Bears are minus-three in the takeaways/giveaways net.
Most frustratingly, the Bears have lost the big games to their rival, the Packers, in recent years, including last year's final-seconds defeat at home to the Packers in the regular-season finale. Had the Bears won, they would've claimed the NFC North title.
Snake bit by the Packers?
"We haven't done enough to win in the games we've lost. We've either given up a big play at the end of the game, or not scored touchdowns when we've been in the red zone," Forte said. "We have an opportunity to write our own story."
The plot of that story, however, must change, beginning on Sunday.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 5