The Chicago Bears are spoilers now. They're not good enough to be in the hunt for a playoff position or bad enough to be jockeying for position at the top of the first round. (I'm completely aware the Bears don't have a first round pick.) If the Bears had won in San Francisco, they'd be playing for their playoff lives down the stretch. But they didn't. And they're not.
The spoiler role can be a fun one, just ask any Bears fan to fondly recollect sending Wayne Fontes home early on the foot of Paul Edinger. And the Bears will be able to spoil a possible playoff appearance for their longest team rivals (this week) and a first-round bye for their fiercest player rival (December 28). They'll also have an opportunity to end EdRay's season in Baltimore on the twentieth.
The three playoff contenders should also serve as a litmus test for Lovie Smith. It seems the stars are pointing towards Lovie returning with a new offensive coordinator - Charlie Weis and Mike Martz the leading candidates. The McCaskey family should release a statement - and release it this week - stating that Smith and his staff will be under a microscope over these next three weeks. They should make it very clear that losses will not be tolerated in the name of a failed season.
I remain dedicated to the notion that the Bears will never win a championship with this leadership group and need to make a change the day the season ends. But knowing the organization's reluctance to eat massive amounts of salary while absorbing new money, I will root for Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli, Bob Babich, Dave Toub and the rest of these folks to win three games against three good teams and give me hope heading into Bourbonnais 2010.
If they lose Sunday. At home. To the Packers. All of that is out the window. This column will become your Fire Lovie Smith headquarters. Because even the most awful of Bears teams would relish the opportunity to knock the cheese to the curb. If they don't, there's no point rooting for them.