When people looked at the Chicago Bears schedule before the 2019 season began, most of them circled the five-game stretch coming out of the bye week as the area that would likely define their season. Sitting at 3-2, it would appear those people were correct. The fact this team had to face no fewer than four playoff teams from last season was a clear indication of how daunting it looked. However, everybody who has followed the NFL should know things rarely stays the same from one year to the next.

This is proving true yet again. Currently, three of those four teams have a record of .500 or worse. Not only that, but a number of them are dealing with serious injury issues at key positions. Granted, the Bears are in a similar boat having lost Kyle Long for the season and Akiem Hicks for an extended period. Still, they’re in a good enough position to where they can take advantage if they’re prepared for the opportunity.

Just look at some of the big names who they won’t see at full strength or may not see at all.

Chicago Bears schedule is looking less tough by the day

vs. New Orleans Saints

The Saints are going to be the toughest challenge of the upcoming stretch for the Bears. They’re 5-1 and have arguably the most complete team in the NFL. The fact they’re doing this without Drew Brees paints a pretty clear picture of how good they are. One big reason for their success though has been the steadiness of star running back Alvin Kamara. He’s had at least 90 yards from scrimmage in three of the past four games.

However, problems with his lower extremities are beginning to slow him a bit. He went into the game against Jacksonville on Sunday dealing with an ankle problem. According to head coach Sean Payton, he came out of it with a knee issue as well. While expectations are he won’t miss the game in Chicago, it is likely he won’t be at 100% when the Saints offense takes the field.

vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers feel like a team that is starting to go into a tailspin. They start the season so well but now sit at 0-2 after a series of tough losses. Overcoming this is proving difficult due in large part to serious health problems on their offensive line. They started the season without Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung. Now they’re forced to move ahead without Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey as well due to a neck injury.

These losses have completely stalled the Chargers ground attack. They managed just 67 yards combined over the past two weeks on the ground. This despite having star running back Melvin Gordon back for both games. Philip Rivers has also been under increasing pressure, resulting in four interceptions over the past two weeks.

at Los Angeles Rams

It would appear the Rams magic is beginning to fade and fade fast. Their once-dynamic offense has almost completely ground to a halt. Their defense isn’t fairing much better either. Star running back Todd Gurley is dealing with a quad injury and hasn’t been right almost all season. His job will get that much harder whenever he returns as guard Joseph Noteboom is done for the season with a torn ACL and torn MCL, magnifying problems for an offensive line that was already struggling.

If that weren’t bad enough, injuries have struck on defense as well. Linebacker Clay Matthews suffered a broken jaw earlier in the month and could miss anywhere from four to six weeks, which puts the Bears game in jeopardy. Cornerback Aqib Talib has it even worse, landing on injured reserve with a severe rib injury. Los Angeles has lost three-straight and things aren’t getting better for them.