MONSTER’S MASH: It’s all about the division wins

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears in action during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field on September 30, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 48-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – There are exceptions, sure, but for the most part, success in the NFL depends a lot on doing well against you common opponents.

The Bears haven’t been good against their division the last few seasons, contribution to lackluster campaigns where the team hasn’t been close to the playoffs. The last time they were .500 in the division was 2012, and in 2017 the Bears lost all six games against NFC North opponents.

In Week 1, the Packers’ rally handed the Bears their tenth-straight division loss at Lambeau Field. To find the last time the Bears won a division game, you have to go back to a Halloween night win over the Vikings at Soldier Field in 2016.

Over the next two-and-a-half weeks, the Bears will get their chance to end the struggles. They’ll face the Lions on Sunday, then the Vikings on Sunday Night Football on November 18th. Four days later, the Bears face the Lions again for a Thanksgiving morning contest.

At the moment the Bears have the lead in the NFC North, but to break through, they’re going to have to have some success against their peers.

“It will test us a lot,” said Tarik Cohen, who has never been on a Bears’ team that beat an NFC North opponent. “That’s what we really want to do is win those games because those are the most important games.”

Shaheen or not to Shaheen

After dealing with an ankle injury suffered against the Bengals in the preseason, Adam Shaheen is finally to the point where he’s ready to come off Injured Reserve.

The question is when – and that remains leading up to the game.

Since he’s not technically on the active roster, the Bears didn’t have to list Shaheen’s participation on the week’s injury reports. During times where media were allowed in, Shaheen was out going through warm-ups with his teammates.

Getting Shaheen back would only add to an offense that continues to find its way in Matt Nagy’s new system. Shaheen showed potential in his rookie year of 2017, making 12 catches for 127 yards and three touchdowns.

That progress was slowed by the ankle injury, but the hope is he can provide a boost to the offense whenever he returns.

“I’ve been going to every meeting, sitting through everything, obviously going to the games,” said Shaheen of keeping up with the offense while he’s out. “Keeping my mind in it when I couldn’t do it physically.”

STAT OF THE WEEK – 10 

The number of sacks given up by the Lions against the Vikings last week in Minneapolis, a franchise record for the hosts.