Jay Cutler likes Bears' chances
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears could win it all.
Asked whether the Bears were good enough to win the Super Bowl, Cutler said, "I think so. You've got to believe that. If you don't believe that, there's no use playing right now."
National analysts such as Mike Ditka said the Bears are the top team in the NFC at the moment, and Steve Young said the Bears could advance to the Super Bowl.
Cutler said the Bears' 31-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday excited the team, but it hasn't provided a sense of satisfaction.
"I think the team's excited," he said. "I think everyone's got their feet back on the ground now. But you could tell what it meant to that team in the locker room afterward [by] how excited everyone was.
"I think in the back of everyone's mind we got a little bit of respect by beating a team like that. But like [Julius] Peppers said, and Olin [Kreutz], and some of those other guys, and [Brian Urlacher]: 'We're far from finished.'"
Teammate Israel Idonije added that "we want to end up in Dallas, and just to get there is not enough. We've been there. We've got to get the ring."
Cutler won his third NFC Offensive Player of the Week award as a Bear on Wednesday, while teammate Julius Peppers was named the conference's defensive player of the month, after posting four sacks in November, which tied for second in the NFL.
Cutler credits his ascension to developing a better understanding of the club's passing game. The quarterback claimed to know the offense earlier in the season, but admitted he's still picking up some of the nuances of the scheme.
With Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel out of action on Sunday, Cutler and the Bears took advantage. Heading into the game, the Eagles led the NFL in lowest passer rating allowed, and were the only team in the league -- according to ESPN Stats & Information -- that had not allowed a touchdown pass down the right sideline.
Through the first 10 games, the Eagles held opponents to a 47.5 percent completion rate on throws to the right sideline and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 0 to 3. Cutler lit up the Eagles on Sunday, completing 71.4 percent on the right sideline for a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3 to 0.
"You think you understand, but it's like everything else, you've got to go out and experience some of the trials and learn from [the scheme]," Cutler said. "Sometimes it might take a couple of times before you figure it out."
As Cutler creeps closer to complete mastery of the offense, he cautioned against taking the Lions lightly on Sunday because they're "trying to ruin seasons." The quarterback also said "it's a little premature" for the club to say it has proven the naysayers wrong.
"We've still got some football games," Cutler said. "We've got to go out and prove ourselves, get in the playoffs, and make a run before we prove anybody wrong."
Safety Chris Harris, meanwhile, said the club has been confident about its prospects since Day 1.
"We're only getting better. We're progressing offensively, defensively, and on special teams," Harris said. "We see that building week in and week out. As I said, we've believed since Week 1 when we started."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.