It was abundantly clear after their 24-17 division-clinching win over the Packers Sunday that Bears players aren't surprised by their success this season.
"It goes all the way back to OTAs," said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. "We believed in ourselves, we believe in everything we've been doing. We put in the work. This team is resilient. I love going to work with these guys every day.
"We believe, us in this locker room, believe. Outside noise, we really didn't try to listen to all that because a lot of people didn't believe in us. We're a resilient team, we're fighters and we're NFC North champions right now."
Matt Nagy has led the Bears to the division title and a 10-4 record in his first season as coach. The success has come after general manager Ryan Pace bolstered the roster during the offseason by signing receivers Allen Robinson II and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton in free agency and selecting linebacker Roquan Smith, guard James Daniels and receiver Anthony Miller with his first three picks in the draft.
Pace then added one of the NFL's premier players on the eve of the regular season when he acquired outside linebacker Khalil Mack via a trade with the Raiders. Mack has 12.5 sacks this season after recording 2.5 in Sunday's win, the most since Hall of Famer Richard Dent had 13.5 in 1993.
"We have accomplished a lot," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "But I think I'm most proud of just the type of guys we have in our locker room, the culture that we have kind of created. We know that nobody really believed in us on the outside in the preseason or even throughout the season. But we knew what type of team we had and we knew we just needed to keep getting better each and every single week."
The Bears have won 10 of 13 games since dropping their season opener in Green Bay. Nagy believes a turning point came Nov. 18 when his team beat the Vikings 25-20 on Sunday Night Football at Soldier Field in a battle for first place in the NFC North.
"You could feel it all year long that we knew we had the talent," Nagy said. "I think more so than anything it was going to be how do we respond to adversity and how do our guys react to a loss? How do they react to a win?
"I think [the win over the Vikings] kind of just really embedded into our players the true belief of how they felt where we could go. You talk about it, but when do you really start believing it? That was probably a time that I'll look back and think that's when we turned the corner."