Bears need help from Packers to make playoffs
- Article by: ANDREW SELIGMAN
- Associated Press
- December 25, 2012 - 2:41 AM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. - The Chicago Bears might be rooting louder for Green Bay than even the most loyal Packers fans this week.
They need an assist from their biggest rivals.
The Bears (9-6) kept themselves in contention with a 28-13 win at Arizona on Sunday. Now, they need to win at Detroit this week and that's just the start.
"This time of year, you want to be in it, you want to be relevant, and we are," coach Lovie Smith said. "We have a chance, and that's all you can hope for. It's not an ideal situation that we're in. But hopefully we can take care of business and do all that we can do. And from there, after we've gotten ourselves in this position, that's about all we can hope for."
He's banking on 10 wins being enough to get to the playoffs, and it will be if they take out the Lions and the Packers beat or tie Minnesota later in the day. They would also get in with a tie if Green Bay beats the Vikings.
The fact that they're facing more injuries heading into a must-win regular-season finale with a playoff spot up in the air doesn't make it any easier.
Running back Matt Forte (right ankle) and free safety Chris Conte (pulled hamstring) added their names to an already lengthy list, and although Smith declined to provide updates on those players, he did acknowledge depth at both positions is a concern.
Forte vowed to be ready after injuring the ankle for the third time this season. Kahlil Bell would figure to carry the load if he isn't, considering backup Michael Bush (ribs) went on injured reserve last week.
It wouldn't be a surprise if the Bears brought in help at safety. The only backup to Conte and Major Wright is Anthony Walters with Craig Steltz on IR because of a chest injury.
Meanwhile, the Bears could be getting some injured players back.
It's not clear if Brian Urlacher will be one of them, though. He hasn't practiced since he injured his hamstring against Seattle on Dec. 2.
Smith is "hopeful" the starting middle linebacker will return this week but wouldn't commit to it.
"Brian is a quick healer, and if he's ready to go, he will," he said. "He's made a lot of progress. I'm not trying to run away from the question. We have to get to the practice week and see where he is."
Smith wouldn't say, either, if Gabe Carimi would stay at right tackle if Jonathan Scott is ready to return from his hamstring injury.
Either way, Smith liked what he saw from his offensive line Sunday. The holes were there for Forte, who ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries before leaving the game, and so was the protection for Jay Cutler. He was simply off-target, completing just 12 of 26 passes for 146 yards. But with Zack Bowman recovering a fumble for a touchdown and Charles Tillman returning an interception for a score, Chicago had an easy time on Sunday.
Now, it needs some help.
The Bears find themselves in an awkward position, one they would have never envisioned after a 7-1 start. But they lost control of their playoff destiny by dropping five of six, fueling speculation about Smith's job security.
If they beat the Lions, they'll have to root for the Packers — a thought that would make George Halas cringe.
"It is kind of weird," cornerback Tim Jennings said. "That's just what it comes down to. So hopefully everything will work out in our favor and we'll be back to where we need to be."
Would the Bears stay in Detroit and watch the Packers game?
"I hadn't gotten that far," Smith said. "There are a lot of other things that have priority before it. We will be interested. All of that goes with us taking care of business first. So we're just going to concentrate on that. We hadn't made any decisions like that."
Notes: The Bears signed veteran LS Patrick Mannelly to a one-year contract extension through 2013 and waived WR Dane Sanzenbacher on Monday.
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