Beat and the on Sunday and they will get it. They will also be one step closer to a playoff berth.
“We’re getting to that final stretch of games where every game’s important to whether or not you’re going to make it to the playoffs or not,” quarterback Jay Cutler said.
Chicago could stamp itself as a serious threat in the N.F.C. if it beats the Eagles (7-3) at Soldier Field. The Bears (7-3) are tied with for the N.F.C. North lead but their schedule is about to take a difficult turn after three consecutive games, all victories, against weaker competition.
It is one thing to beat teams that have struggled all year like Detroit, Dallas, Carolina, Buffalo and Minnesota. It does not hurt to face a third-string quarterback, as the Bears did when they pounded Miami, 16-0, on Nov. 18. But things are about to change.
Games against New England, and Green Bay are looming, and Sunday’s game figures to be every bit as difficult.
“If you start looking ahead at it, you’re going to mess yourself up,” Coach Andy Reid said. “The way the league’s done now, for that reason, you can’t look ahead and go, ‘You know what, if we win these two games then we have these two off.’ You can’t do that.
“So you have N.F.C. East games all the way to the end and good teams in between there with Chicago coming up here, and they’re not too shabby at 7-3. So we have to make sure we’re ready to roll.”
The Bears figure to have their hands full with Vick, assuming they can actually get their hands on him.
“Now that he’s throwing the ball so well, it adds a whole other element to it,” linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. “Before, you knew he was going to run so it was like, All right, let’s contain him some.”
If there is a defense that could give him fits, the Bears’ might be one.
“I don’t want to offend anybody else around the league, but this group is a great group of guys who play together, play fast and play hard,” Vick said. “You can tell that they’ve jelled together as a defense and they play with a tremendous amount of confidence.”
The Bears are allowing 290.4 yards per game and rank third over all, second against the run, and they are second with 25 takeaways.
When it comes to scoring, no one is stingier.
The Bears and the Packers have allowed the fewest points in the (146), and after struggling all year to get sacks, they came away with six against Miami, three from Julius Peppers.
“I tip my hat to those guys up front,” safety Danieal Manning said. “Guys are playing disciplined. They’re playing solid football right now.”
But Chicago has not faced a challenge like this. It is not hard to see why the Eagles are 5-0 in games Vick has started and completed. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions. His 191 passes without an interception are a team record to start the season, and his 108.7 passer rating leads the league.
He is delivering M.V.P.-level performances on almost a weekly basis after spending a year and a half in prison for running a ring, and then playing sparingly behind last year.
Vick slowed a bit in last week’s 27-17 win over the Giants with 258 yards and a rushing touchdown. With Atlanta, he was never known for his passing ability. But he is staying in the pocket more and his 62.8 percent completion rate is easily a career high.
But whether Vick is trying to outrun them or trying to beat them with his arm, the Bears like their chances.
“We feel comfortable and confident in the talent we have here,” Tinoisamoa said. “We feel like we match up well. We feel like we have great speed not only from our D-linemen but the back end as well.”