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Chicago Bears won't survive absence of Jay Cutler

The Chicago Bears were 7-3 after 10 games last season, seen as Super Bowl contenders. Jay Cutler then was hurt, and they didn't win another game.

Now 7-3 and on a two-game losing streak after a humiliating 32-7 loss in San Francisco on Monday night, Chicago is set up for another fall. The difference: Cutler should be back. For the team's sake, they have to hope it's next week.

Chicago has played only four teams this season that currently have a winning record. The Bears are 1-3 in those games. Their next four games are against winning competition, albeit with two games against an uneven Minnesota Vikings squad. Monday night's game against the 49ers showed the team's vast shortcomings on offense.

Leave it to President Obama's advisor David Axelrod to randomly provide the most succinct analysis of the Bears offense via Twitter.

"Why is it that you never quite appreciate Jay Cutler until he's not playing?" Axelrod wrote.

We said the moment Cutler was hurt that he carries the Bears offense on his back and his injury would reshape the NFC race. The Packers have closed the gap and have now technically moved ahead of the Bears for first place in the NFC North. (The Packers hold the tiebreaker.) We have little faith the Bears can win the division.

J'Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi may form the worst pass-protecting tackle combination in football. Aldon Smith had 5.5 sacks alone, each one more ridiculous than the last. Chicago's offensive line is poor and the coaching is unimaginative to put it kindly. Jim Harbaugh was playing chess Monday night; Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice was playing Connect Four. The Bears didn't break into positive passing yards until midway through the third quarter, when the score was 27-0.

"Tonight was probably the worst nightmare," quarterback Jason Campbell said after the game.

Without Cutler, the Bears simply don't have a professional offense. The nightmare will continue until he's back.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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