The NFC Championship game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kicks off at 2:00 p.m. CST Sunday (3:00 EST), and the Bears have clearly been cast as the Navy-and-Orange headed stepchild of the final four teams. If the Bears win the Super Bowl, the next day headlines will read 'Bears Unlikely To Repeat As Super Bowl Champs'. That's just the way it's been.
Old Bears Never Die: They just turn purple. The Minnesota Vikings hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach and Bears linebacker great Mike Singletary as linebackers coach/assistant to the head coach. The head coach he'll be assisting is his old defensive mate from the '85 Bears, Leslie Frazier. Although he had marginal success as a head coach, you can't deny that Mike Singletary understands the linebacker position as well as anyone in the game.
Rumors have former Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young also coming to the Vikings, which would continue their recent tradition of hiring quarterbacks who don't care what their coach has to say.
Is This The 'Chess Game'? Are We Playing Now?: Mike Martz took on the blame for the Bears' loss in Week 17, when the Bears had nothing to play for, "I did not do a good job calling the game at all, really. I probably got away from some things. We tried to create some things on first down in the passing game that I thought would be good. We just didn’t
execute very well, we didn’t play very well and certainly didn’t coach very well in that game. It was uncharacteristic of who we are."
The Bears largely abandoned a running game that had Matt Forte averaging 6.1 yards a pop. But Chicago kept their starters in the whole game. They must have been trying with all their might to keep the oh-so-dangerous Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs, right? Packer running back Ryan Grant isn't entirely convinced. He stood on the sidelines that day with an injury, and here's what he believes he saw, "Honestly, it didn’t look like necessarily that they might have been giving it their all...This is a different atmosphere. They’re going to want this game."
When the Bears say anything, they tend to be guarded. It's the Lovie Smith way. When anyone connected with the Bears talks about Week 17, there's definitely an 'aw shucks, we lost that one.' feel to their words. Is there bluffing in chess?
Injury Report: For the Bears, safety Chris Harris (hip) did not participate in practice. Rookie Major Wright took over the all the snaps at Harris' position Wednesday. Cornerback Zackary Bowman and receiver Earl Bennett were also absent form practice, for non injury related reasons.
For the Packers, linebacker Frank Zombo (knee), did not participate. Tackle Chad Clifton (knees), DE Cullen Jenkins (calf), RB John Kuhn (shoulder), CB Patrick Lee (hip), LB Clay Matthews (shin), DE Ryan Pickett (ankle) and C Jason Spitz (calf) were all held to limited participation.
Injuries have been one of the stories of the Green Bay Packers season this year, and the Bears are enjoying an unusually healthy season this year. Advantage, Bears.
Insult Report: Serial retiree Brett Favre, who gets a debilitating case of the chills whenever there's not a spotlight shining on him, has picked his old team the Packers, over the team that hand-delivered his latest batch of retirement papers, the Bears. Calling them the best team "by far" left in the tournament, he's picking them to win it all. And if you can't trust Brett Favre's decision making abilities, whose can you trust?
NFL Network analysts Moose Johnston and Trent Green discussed the horrible, horrible playing surface of Soldier Field. Chicago's playing surface has been a topic of complaint for the entireity of the season. An off-hand comment by Packers receiver Greg Jennings led to some over the top speculation that the NFL might force the Bears to re-sod Soldier Field. That was based on a 1999 incident at Lambeau that was in no way similar to the conditions at Soldier Field.
So after all the discussion about how this playing surface is singular, unique in its sheer awfulness, who do Trent and Moose think the terrain favors?
The Packers, of course. For reasons that are really just more reasons to pile more mad love on Aaron Rodgers. He's quite an athlete as it turns out. Too bad the Bears don't have a mobile quarterback who's played 17 games on that surface.
The winner of this week's most repulsive Bears-bashing exchange this week comes from a reality tv performer whose watched a lot of post-season football at home, and a gap-toothed soft-drink pitchman. Terrell Owens and Michael Strahan, on whatever so-bad-it's-a-sign-of-the-apocalypse TV show where they give these two braying jackasses free rein, managed to mock Jay Cutler, the color-blind, and the impoverished, in a sort of hat-trick for knobs.
Owens, who uses his head only as a life-support system for his mouth, and a display case for ugly jewelry, said that Cutler was his least favorite QB still playing, showed his football awareness of last year by calling Cutler color-blind, as in 'he can't tell what color jerseys to throw toward'.
Not to be outdone, Strahan crowed, "Once he gets some pressure, he starts slinging the ball around like free loaves of bread in the 'hood." Man! Is there anything funnier than the mental picture of poor people desperately scrambling for food? They're SO hungry!
And A Special Insult For You, The Bears Fan: Yes you. You're dumb. Just ask Steve Rosenbloom. Now shut up.