The Jay Cutler "I Can't Believe I Just Went Down in a Contract Year" Award

Norm MacDonald had a joke about how depressed all the crocodiles must have been when they found out a stingray killed the Crocodile Hunter. The same can be said for every defender who ever packed a wallop on Jay Cutler, only to see him limp off the field on a relatively benign tackle. Unfortunately, that tackle included a debilitating groin injury. Also unfortunate is Cutler was producing his best season as a Bear. Before getting hurt, he was on pace for franchise records in passing yards and touchdowns.

 

DEVIN HESTER & ROBBIE GOULD

The Devin Hester & Robbie Gould Awards for Excellence in Returning and Kicking, Respectively

Since entering the league, Devin Hester and Robbie Gould have been among the league's standard-bearers at their positions. And with chips on their shoulders, both have delivered in 2013: Hester is leading the league in kick return yards, and he snapped his no-TD streak last week with an 81-yard punt return score, his NFL record-tying 19th career non-offensive touchdown. Meanwhile, Gould's converting field goals at a career-best 92.3 percent clip and is tied for the NFL record with 12 straight field goals made of 50 yards or more.

 

TRENDS TO WATCH AFTER THE BYE WEEK

Losing streak vs. Green Bay

If the Bears want to avoid a 4-4 record, they'll have to do something they haven't done since 2007: beat the Packers at Lambeau. They've lost five straight in Green Bay, while a win Nov. 4 would be their first over the Pack ANYWHERE since Sept. 27, 2010. Yuck.

Regular-season elimination games

The Bears weren't eliminated from the 2012 playoffs until the last day of the season. But they eliminated themselves over the season's second half by losing six games to playoff teams. Five of the Bears' nine remaining games are against possible playoff teams (Green Bay twice, Detroit, Dallas, Philadelphia). As those games go, so goes the season.

Jay Cutler's contract year

Cutler was putting together a career year before he was derailed by his groin injury. With his contract expiring, has he done enough to warrant a new deal? If not, the pressure will be on him big time upon his return.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjack

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