Whether or not the Bears earned some respect around the league with Sunday's victory over the first-place Eagles doesn't really matter much to them.
The bottom line is they're a first-place team, too, with an 8-3 record, same as the Saints, and a game better than Philadelphia, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Giants in the NFC, where only the 9-2 Falcons have won more games.
The Bears have won four straight, including back-to-back victories over teams with winning records. The Dolphins bounced back from their 16-0 loss to the Bears 10 days earlier to whip the Raiders Sunday and improve to 6-5.
Maybe now, the Bears will at least be mentioned in discussions of the top teams, but they say it won't affect them if they aren't. None of the chatter matters until the six NFC playoff teams have been decided, and that might take a while. That's what the Bears say is their focus.
"Obviously, you do want to be recognized for your hard work and the wins and being productive and successful," tight end Greg Olsen said. "But, at the same time, we really don't get too wrapped up in having people talk positively about us.
"We expect to go out there and play hard every week. We don't need any extra motivation that doesn't come from within this building, and that's the truth. From coach Lovie (Smith) down, just the confidence and pride we take in playing well for him, for the organization, and for the fans really is enough that we don't need any other outside motivating factors."
Smith believes his team has gotten the respect it deserves because it has been at or near the top of the NFC North all season, but even if others don't share his opinion, it doesn't bother him, or so he says.
"Opinions really don't matter a lot," Smith said. "We put a lot into them but they really don't (matter). Nothing has changed for us. We beat a good team (Sunday), but I think we have beaten a lot of good teams. Whether the team has a winning record at the time, we've beaten a lot of good football teams, just like we did (Sunday)."
Counting the 20-17 victory over the Packers in Week 3, the Bears have three victories over plus-.500 teams but they realize they're a long way from a playoff spot. Seven teams in the NFC are 7-4 or better, and at least two of them won't be playing in the postseason.
"It's a good win, but we can't hang our hat on this one," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "There's still a lot of football left, and we've got to keep getting better and keep trying to improve."
With home games remaining against the 9-2 Patriots and the 9-2 Jets and road games against their three NFC North foes, the Bears aren't ready to kick back and coast or flatter themselves with what they've accomplished so far.
"I wouldn't say, 'Hey, we're one of the best,' or 'We're this or we're that,'" defensive end Israel Idonije said. "I feel like we're where we want to be. We're in great position -- right now. We're positioned where we want to be. We have Detroit coming (Sunday) and they're the team that we've got to beat. That's our focus. We'll look at who's the best and all those other things later."
Signature victory or not, 13-year veteran center Olin Kreutz puts the Eagles conquest in simple terms: "We won," Kreutz said. "But if we lose next week, this game doesn't mean (anything)."
Long Range Forecast: Bears
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