Week 14: A plan for Jay Cutler, Bears

Jay Cutler's Bears have been one of the NFL's surprises this season. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

Football Outsiders analyzes the top three NFL matchups each week every Thursday. Here are the top games for Week 14.

Few people would have predicted the Chicago Bears could make the playoffs in 2010. Even fewer would have predicted a Kansas City playoff run, or Jacksonville's return to relevance. But here we are, with four weeks left, and those teams would all be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Of course, it doesn't end today, so a couple more wins would be mighty helpful.

Much of our analysis is based on DVOA, which takes every single play during the season and compares it to the league average based on situation and opponent. DVOA and Football Outsiders' other advanced stats are explained here. Some of the statistics in this article come from the Football Outsiders game charting project, where a group of volunteers watches every NFL game to track stats like play-action, blitzes, formations, and defensive coverage. Please note these numbers are incomplete, with most teams charted through Week 11.

New England Patriots (10-2) at Chicago Bears (9-3)

Despite its 9-3 record, Chicago ranks just 18th overall in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings. However, that rating is influenced heavily by the two games played without Jay Cutler under center. Remove those two weeks, and the Bears ranking would go from 30th to 21st on offense, and from 18th to ninth overall. Add in home-field advantage, and our numbers say the Bears can be reasonably competitive against the hottest team in the league.