Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears tries to quiet down the crowd against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field on November 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Chargers 31-20. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Chicago Bears have been on quite the hot streak as of late. The last time the Bears lost a game was against the Detroit Lions back on Monday Night Football in October. Since then the Bears have defeated the Vikings, Buccaneers, Eagles, Lions and, most recently, Chargers.
Sunday's win over the Chargers was big, but it came at a price. Quarterback Jay Cutler reportedly fractured his right thumb after being knocked down following an interception. Although quarterbacks can play through fractured fingers on their throwing hand (see Matthew Stafford) and even a fractured thumb (see ), Cutler is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
According to a source, surgery could be an option for the quarterback, but there is no immediate plan to put Cutler on injured reserve. Essentially, he could return for the playoffs, with six weeks remaining in the regular season.
The exact timetable being reported for Cutler's return is six to eight weeks. That means at the very least he is out for the rest of the regular season, but if the Bears can survive with Caleb Hanie and make the playoffs, he could be back for the postseason.
Right now the Bears are tied with the Lions at 7-3. The two wild card spots belong to the Lions and Bears, which have a one-game cushion over the Falcons and Cowboys/Giants. Cutler's absence in the final six weeks of the season could affect the wild card race in a big way if Chicago struggles with Hanie starting at quarterback. It remains to be seen just how big of an effect Cutler's injury will have, but on paper it seems like the Lions may have one less team to worry about in the playoff race.