Well we're almost there. This exhausting last month of this frustrating 2011 season is almost at its sad, twisted conclusion. Never have I wanted a Bears regular season to be over more. Never have I been this prepared to start the next offseason. I feel suspended in time, suspended at 7-3, and I'll be hanging there for the next nine months. But first the Bears travel to Minneapolis...
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I always like the Chicago Bears. (Except recently.)
- Without Adrian Peterson, who probably won't even be mildly effective until Week 7 of next season, the Vikings will be handing the ball to Toby Gerhart and that dog don't hunt. Without a consistent rush attack the Vikes will rely on the arms of either Christian Ponder or Joe Webb (Ugh or Ugher) to hit receivers consistently within the zone. I don't think either can do it.
- The guy with the most on the line Sunday is Josh McCown and I like the guy with the most on the line in the final week of the season. McCown inspired some confidence inside Halas Hall with his late-game performance at Lambeau Field and knows a solid, preferably victorious, outing might give him an opportunity to make this Bears roster in 2012.
- I think this Pro Bowl crap might inspire the Bears defensively. Some have criticized the three starting defenders (Lach, Briggs, Peanut) headed to Hawaii, especially Tillman, and I think they'll want to show they belong on their final opportunity to do so. (Note on the Pro Bowl's selecting of defensive ends: it ain't all about sack totals. Julius Peppers is better than Jason Babin.)
- Is there a difference between 8-8 and 7-9? Yes. Is there a difference between losing six straight to finish a season and not losing six straight to finish a season? Yes. I think that's what Lovie is preaching this week. Every player on that roster knows Smith is the head coach next year and they know they have to play hard for him. I don't expect Bears to go through the motions here.
- Will there be any emotion in the dome Sunday? A week after the Vikings faithful learned they've lost their best player not only for the little remaining in 2011 but for possibly the top of 2012? A week after blowing their out-of-nowhere chance to draft Andrew Luck with a meaningless victory over Washington? I'm surprised this game isn't going to be blacked out in Minneapolis.
- Dane Sanzenbacher will have the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
- Lovie Smith snapped at reporters when asked about Martz' future. I like that our head coach has the ability to snap at people and that he's still emotionally connected at all.
- I'm hoping it is Dave Toub's last game as Bears special teams coordinator as I'm rooting for him to get one of this year's head coaching vacancies. I think he's served this organization well for a long time and deserves the shot to run his own show. That being said I think the Bears have some fun on specials Sunday and put one in the end zone.
Chicago Bears 31, Minnesota Vikings 16
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