Bears move closer to first NFC North title since 2010

DETROIT — Coach Matt Nagy has a word to describe the 2018 Chicago Bears: “special.”

“The Bears” and “special” haven’t appeared in the same sentence in some time, but Thursday’s victory over the Lions was Chicago’s third consecutive NFC North win in 12 days.

“I feel really, really good, because it is not easy in this tough division, when you’re facing these teams in the division that we’re in — that’s a tall task,” Nagy said. “And what I like about it is our guys — there was never any … excuses; there could’ve been a lot of excuses and feeling sorry for themselves. They didn’t do that. And when you have that — I’m starting to learn, as a head coach with this team, who we are, and it’s special. It really is, and I like where we’re at.”

The Bears further tightened their grip on the division by winning their eighth game of the season.

The Vikings (5-4-1) are three wins off the pace. Minnesota squares off with Green Bay (4-5-1) on Sunday night. If the Packers don’t reach the playoffs — which seems highly likely — the team appears to be headed for a major offseason shake-up.

The Lions (4-7), who won nine games last year, now look totally out of it under first-year coach Matt Patricia.

“They accepted my challenge of going 3-0 in 12 days against three division opponents,” Nagy said. “They did that; they can check that off.”

To put into perspective what Nagy and the Bears already have accomplished, Chicago did not win a single division game last year. Former coach John Fox won only three NFC North games throughout his entire tenure in Chicago.

The Bears, who last reached the playoffs in 2010, finished with the worst record in the division in each of the past four years.

That streak is over. The Bears now have the third-most wins of any team in the NFC.

With winnable games on the horizon against the Giants (next week) and San Francisco (late December), the Bears are poised to win 10 or more games for the first time since Lovie Smith’s final season in 2012.

Interestingly, Chicago’s Thanksgiving win at Ford Field was their first victory in Detroit since Smith’s final game as head coach.

“It means a lot to win three straight in the division,” Bears all-purpose threat Tarik Cohen said. “I heard a saying that says, ‘The quickest way to the playoffs is winning your division.’ That’s what we came out here to do.”

The Bears are on the verge of making the dream a reality.

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