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Lovie Smith faces issues, big and small, heading into crucial stretch for Bears

Entering into the final stretch of the season, the Bears head coach is faced with a concerns about his quarterback's health, his team's playoff hopes and his job.

US PRESSWIRE

After a brutal loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has a full plate of concerns as the team enters a crucial final stretch of games, according to John "Moon" Mullin of CSNChicago.com.

The first concern is the neck of quarterback Jay Cutler. The 29-year-old signal caller left the fourth quarter of the Bears' loss to Minnesota last Sunday with neck stiffness after being hit hard by a Vikings defender. Cutler said Monday that he expects to be ready to play on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, but time will tell if the Bears will have their starting quarterback in action as they make a push for the playoffs.

Another concern is the Bears' playoff livelihood. After losing four of five games, Chicago (8-5) needs to win out to secure a playoff spot. They'll have to do so against the NFC North-leading Packers, the struggling Arizona Cardinals (who have lost nine straight) and the floundering Detroit Lions (who have lost five in a row).

Finally, Smith has to be a bit concerned about his job security. The Bears have only been to the playoffs once since 2006. After starting the season 7-1 and finding his squad on the verge of falling out of the NFC playoff picture yet again, Smith might be feeling the heat.