Chicago Bears will be in the NFL playoffs in 2014 if…

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It is story time, boys and girls.

You have all heard the tale of The Three Bears and their eventual encounter with Goldilocks.

This saga is about the last three years and the Chicago Bears. And in each instance, it doesn’t have a happy ending.

It was not long ago that the franchise, with head coach Lovie Smith at the helm, was hosting the 2010 NFC title game. Things did not go their way that day and it was the visiting Green Bay Packers who went onto Super Bowl XLV.

But we now look back at the last three seasons. In 2011, the Bears won seven of their first 10 games and looked like a better team than it was the previous year. Unfortunately, quarterback Jay Cutler was injured in that seventh victory and would not return. A five-game losing streak ensued and Chicago finished 8-8.

One year later, the team got off to a 7-1 start but for a number of reasons, cooled off considerably. Smith’s club would drop five of its next six contests and despite a 10-6 overall finish, they were once again on the outside looking in come playoff time.

This past season, Marc Trestman replaced Smith as head coach and after a 3-0 start all appeared rosy in the Windy City. But while the Chicago offense thrived despite using two different starting quarterbacks, injuries and other issues combined to do in the once-proud Bears defense. A loss at home to the Packers in the regular-season finale gave Trestman’s team an 8-8 record and cost them the NFC North title.

What can we expect in 2014? The offense looks as potent as ever and the defense has been bolstered via free agency as well as the draft.

This is the 14th part of a 32-team series in which we’ll look at the “if, and & but’s” of each team’s chances to make the postseason.

Which means Chicago will reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010…

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