Three games remain, but just one with meaning

December 16th, 2009 - 10:03 pm

If there’s anybody out there hoping for a Bears upset over the Ravens or Vikings in the next two weeks, I wouldn’t hold your breath for too long.

Typically, when an average team is mathematically eliminated from the playoff chase, they still have enough pride and fight left in them to play the role of spoiler if the schedule presents such an opportunity.

Sure, the Bears have the chance to set back the Ravens in the AFC wild card race should they somehow
defeat them in Baltimore this week. But the Bears haven’t won on the road since Week 3 in Seattle, which was their only road victory of the season.

And yes, the Bears might have the chance to prevent the Vikings from having homefield advantage throughout the playoffs if they can somehow beat their division rival on Monday Night Football on Dec. 28. But none of the Bears’ five victories this season have come against a team who currently holds a winning record. Even the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers are having a woeful season and presently sit at 6-7.

Maybe the Bears aren’t average, after all. Below average, or bad teams don’t have a chance to play spoiler.

The only game remaining on the schedule that will have any meaning for the Bears is the season finale on Jan. 3 in Detroit. That could mean the difference between a 6-10 season or a 5-11 one, the latter of which would equal Lovie Smith’s worst season as coach of the Bears.

It seems inconceivable that the Bears would lose to a 2-11 Lions team, even if it is on the road. But they didn’t look so good being dismantled by Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense in the first half of the first game between these two teams. And I haven’t seen anything from the Bears in the nine games since that Oct. 4 meeting at Soldier Field to suggest the Bears have improved in any way.

What could be most telling in that final game, regardless of whether or not the Bears win, is how hard they play. Does this team have any fight left in it and will the players have given up on Smith by that point?

Some argue they’ve already given up on the coaching staff in general and comments made by Devin Hester this week seem to illustrate that point.

“It’s tough watching other teams, other offenses find ways for other guys to get their hands on the ball better,” Hester said.

When asked why the wide receiver screen thrown often in his direction has failed to work, Hester said, “Everybody watches film. They see what type of play we’re executing, that’s working and they adjust. The same players run the same routes and [other teams' plays] work.”

Hester also went on to say that next year, he expects “a lot of new players, and probably some other things [will] change around here.”

That’s just one player’s opinion and Hester has never been one to speak out like that. One can only imagine what former Pro Bowler and current bust Jay Cutler must be thinking and feeling. You’ve got to admire the fact that he’s been a good teammate and leader and has kept his mouth shut instead of letting the criticism fly.

In the NFL, anything is possible when the oblong ball bounces in funny ways. Barring some kind of complete surprise performance that we haven’t seen yet this season, the Bears will lose to the Ravens and Vikings setting up a showdown between the NFC North’s cellar dwellers that will have ramifications that ring much louder in Chicago than they do in Detroit, especially if the Bears lose.