Sure, Chicago Bears starting QB Mitchell Trubisky is battling a shoulder injury and may or may not play against the Giants Sunday.
But the Bears behind their second-year quarterback and powerhouse defensive newcomer Khalil Mack have quietly built a resume that bears all the statistical hallmarks of a championship contender, even as they've been badly overshadowed by sexier, more exciting NFC teams like the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Here are a few reasons to Fear the Bears in the NFC (see Chicago's complete statistical profile here):
The Bears are No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating, the most important statistical indicator of a defense's championship potential. The Bears have forced a league-high 20 interceptions this year. Chicago, put another way, has the horses on defense to slow down the Saints or Rams in a playoff showdown.
The Bears are No. 1 in Defensive Rusher Rating, which means they are the hardest team to run against in the NFL. Chicago has forced 9 fumbles while allowing just 4 rushing TDs, the fewest in the NFL.
The Bears are No. 1 on the Defensive Hog Index, which rates each defensive front in the NFL. Call it the Mack Impact. But Chicago ranks No. 1 in rush yards per attempt allowed and No. 1 in forcing Negative Pass Plays. A stout defensive front typically bodes well come playoff time and the Bears boast the best defensive front in football.
The Bears are No. 1 on our Quality Stats Power Rankings. They rank in the Top 10 in 17 of 22 indicators and in the top half of the league in all of them. History shows that statistical weak links snap under the pressure of playoff football. And Chicago right now has the fewest statistical weak links of any NFL team.
The Bears are No. 1 on the Cold, Hard Football Facts Intelligence Index, which means they are the smartest, most well-coached team in the NFL.
As long-time Cold, Hard Football Facts readers know, winning in the NFL is a matter of brains over brawn. Smart, efficient, well-coached teams win games and more importantly win games against the spread.
The Bears are no exception: they are not only 8-3 overall, they are 8-3 ATS, making them one of the smartest bets in the NFL this year. The smart money (not to mention our powerful Quality Stats) says that Chicago is undervalued by the wider Pigskin Public and will likely outperform expectations the rest of the year.