Are Bears the worst 5-1 team in the NFL? They don't think so, and they're out to prove it Monday night.

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune
·4 min read

CHICAGO — If the Chicago Bears pull off an upset against the Los Angeles Rams on “Monday Night Football,” Tashaun Gipson wants to hear more respect for his team on sports-talk shows Tuesday morning.

“I know we hear things about being the worst 5-1 team and this and that, but it’s just an opportunity for us to go out and show we belong where we are,” the Bears safety said. “And it’s a reason we’ve won five games, and it’s not just by luck.

“I mean, it’s all over (the place). I watch ‘Get Up,’ you know, ‘Good Morning Football’ and stuff like that. We are the most talked about 5-1 team. I don’t think people truly give us our respect. You look at these power rankings — and you know you’re taught not to pay attention to those things, and obviously we don’t care — but we hear.”

After the Bears beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to reach 5-1, NFL.com columnist Dan Hanzus moved the Bears up five spots to 11th in his weekly power rankings — two spots behind the 4-2 Rams and a notch below the 3-2 Saints.

Earlier this week, “Good Morning Football” co-host Peter Schrager asked Hanzus: “What do you say to Bears fans who say, ‘What else do we got to do?’ Sorry, it’s not style points.”

Replied Hanzus: “I’ll be that guy. I’ll be the national pundit, the buffoon, the jabroni that doesn’t truly understand this team and isn’t close enough to see why they’re special. But I’ll give them respect.

Hanzus later added, “I just don’t see them as an elite team yet. I’m not there.”

On Yahoo Sports’ “More Football” podcast, Adnan Virk said: “I’m as surprised as anyone the Bears are 5-1. Can you go to 6-1? Can you beat the Rams? I’m as surprised as anyone Chicago has played this well.”

Co-host Voch Lombardi, a film analyst, said: “I’m still not ready to say good things about the Bears. I have no clue how they’ve won as many games as they’ve won. I mean, sure, there’s defense, but boy, Nick Foles is still Nick Foles, and that offense seems to kind of stall a little bit.”

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith gives the critics little credence.

“I really don’t care that much about it because a lot of those people that are giving those opinions are not out on the field, nor do they have a true glimpse of what it’s actually like out there,” Smith said.

NFL journalist and “Undefined” host Josina Anderson asked Danny Trevathan about the “confidence level” in the Bears’ record.

“I feel like the city’s loving it. It’s a good record,” Trevathan said.

For the third season in a row, the Bears and Rams face off in front of a national TV audience. Simply taking on another credible playoff contender on the big stage still might not be enough to change public perception.

After all, the Bears count an upset of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers among their “ugly” wins.”

“Winning changes that,” punter Pat O’Donnell said. “Each and every week the guys are going out to prove all the doubters wrong. … I don’t think it’s a specific game that we’re trying to win, but the next game is the most important game.”

As far as he knows, Gipson’s teammates don’t derive any extra motivation by their perceived disrespect nationally.

“Everybody would be lying if they said they didn’t see it or haven’t heard about it or didn’t hear the chatter,” he said. “(But) Coach (Matt) Nagy, Coach Chuck (Pagano), nobody has put it up on the big board and said, ‘Hey, the talk out there is that you’re the worst 4-1 team or 5-1 team.’

“I don’t think it’s fuel, but … if anybody’s got social media, you’ll see it. The Bears haven’t been getting the type of love we deserve.”

That includes Las Vegas oddsmakers, who consistently have booked the Bears as underdogs.

William Hill has the Bears as 6-point underdogs Monday. Westgate SuperBook has the Bears giving 6 1/2.

“You can measure a lot of stuff, but you can’t measure heart,” Gipson said. “This team’s got heart; this team’s got fight.

“Maybe on paper, we’re the underdogs. They’ve got great players over there. One of my closest friends is (Rams cornerback) Jalen Ramsey. They’ve got guys like that (and) Aaron Donald … top-two guys at their position, if not (No.) 1.”

So Monday night’s prime-time showdown will be a good test, Gipson said.

“Who knows, we might be the worst 10-1 team in NFL history,” he said. “Guess what, we’ll have 53 guys on that team that will be 100 percent OK with that.

“We can be underdogs every single game. As long we come out getting the wins, that’s all that matters.”

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