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Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears on verge of epic collapse

Here's a disturbing piece of information for Chicago Bears fans to chew on with their holiday leftovers.

ESPN reminded us Wednesday that this year's Bears are one of 52 teams to start 7-1 since 1990. Only one of those teams, the 1996 Washington Redskins, missed the playoffs.

A troubling second-half collapse has left the Bears at 9-6 and needing help to make the playoffs.

The Bears can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Detroit Lions and a Minnesota Vikingstie or loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Or, if the Bears tie the Lions (please) and the Vikings lose to the Packers, Chicago squeaks in the backdoor.

The first scenario is entirely possible, but the Bears haven't performed like a playoff team in months. Their life in the postseason threatens to be a short one if they qualify. Chicago's once-dominant defense sparked to life again in last Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals, but too many injuries have neutralized this unit during its 2-5 stretch run.

A lot needs to go wrong for a 7-1 team to miss the playoffs. The Bears, with one game remaining, need to take care of business and receive a little help to avoid the ugly distinction.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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