The Arizona Cardinals finally broke their nine-game losing streak with a convincing 38-10 win over the Detroit Lions. Now, they'll turn their sights to the Chicago Bears, who visit University of Phoenix Stadium for the first time since Dennis Green's infamous "they are who we thought they were" meltdown in October of 2006.
The Bears enter the game reeling a bit, having lost three straight. Chicago is in a logjam of teams who sit at 8-6, but due to tiebreakers, currently finds itself on the outside looking into the playoff picture.
All this week, we'll keep you up to date with what's going on Chicago as the Bears and "Jay Cuddler" get ready for the Cardinals in Glendale.
Friday, December 21
The staff of ESPN Chicago makes their predictions for the Bears-Cardinals tilt Sunday.
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is optimistic that cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) will be available against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but the outlook on defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest) is less promising.
The Bears defense expects to have at least one of its linchpins back for the Arizona Cardinals, with cornerback Tim Jennings apparently over the shoulder dislocation suffered in the loss to Seattle.
A loss is only a total loss if nothing is learned or gained from the experience. For rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, three pass-interference calls against him in the second half of the loss to Green Bay, one nullifying a touchdown, was a disaster.
Thursday, December 20
Being the best receiver the Chicago Bears have had since, well, ever, isn't enough. Marshall has taken on the role of team mouthpiece, pulse taker and notebook filler.
"Well, maybe that was a comment that maybe I should have kept to myself and kept in-house," Marshall said, a little sheepishly. "And with that being said, any response I got from anybody in the organization, I'll keep that private."
Can the Bears beat the Cardinals in the red zone? (CSN Chicago)
"I told the guys we can't feel sorry for ourselves offensively," said quarterback Jay Cutler. "We just have to do whatever we have to do to win this game. You're not going to fix every problem in one week, so we just have to focus on ourselves and what we have to do internally offensively to win one game, and we'll move on from there."
The Cardinals are 5-9 and have no playoff hopes, but that doesn't mean the Bears will stroll into the desert and come away with their ninth victory this Sunday.
I'd like to go ahead and call B.S. on Brian Urlacher right now. And while I'm at it, I call B.S. on Lance Briggs too.
Wednesday, December 19
While taping The Lance Briggs Show Tuesday night in the CSN studio, the Bears linebacker backed up his teammate.
The Bears brought running back Kahlil Bell onto the roster on Tuesday for the third time in a year as somewhere Phil Emery is probably wondering who's sticking pins in a General Manager doll.
"I don't want to disappoint him, so I have to raise my level of game," Cutler told Jeff Joniak in the latest edition of the Bears Confidential video feature on ChicagoBears.com.
Coaching is only part of the equation, however. Coaching alone can't convert Rex Grossman into Peyton Manning. Coaches can't force their bosses to draft more and better offensive linesmen. And coaching can't save a GM from having to trade away draft picks to make up for draft mistakes. Enter Jerry Angelo.
I think I went over the simple rules about coaching respect in a recent column. To wit: We love you when you win, we hate you when you lose.
Tuesday, December 18
An undrafted free agent, who came into the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011, Brandon signed with the Bears in June and spent the entire preseason with the club before it waived him Aug. 31 during the final roster reduction.
Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has taken on at least part of the Bears fan base. After the Bears suffered their fifth loss in their last six games Sunday to the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field, Urlacher criticized Bears fans who booed the home team during his weekly segment on Fox Chicago. He said it was "unbelievable."
Upset at the negative swirl around embattled coach Lovie Smith, the injured middle linebacker ripped into fans and media on his Sunday night WFLD-TV appearance in a way that will not endear him to the organization.
More important, coupled with the emotional comments by receiver Brandon Marshall calling for accountability and possibly jobs, the result is an image of a breakdown or an unraveling, neither of which reflect well on Smith's stewardship.
The Bears have been shorthanded at running back since a rib injury sidelined Michael Bush, who was active but did not play in Sunday's 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Bush's availability for the final two games of the regular season is uncertain.
Two of the people I don't care about: fans or media.'' Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, Dec. 16, 2012
That might be the quote of the year, not just for its Yogi Berra clumsiness, but because it perfectly represents the disdain the Bears have for the people who follow them.
Monday, December 17
Cutler took responsibility both Sunday and Monday for the team's performance on offense. Cutler passed for 135 yards, a touchdown and an interception to go with a passer rating of 72.5 in directing an offense that failed to convert a third down on nine tries.
"Our crowd was pretty good today for the most part," Urlacher said Sunday during his weekly segment on Fox Chicago. "They were loud for a minute there. The boos were really loud, which is always nice. The only team in our division to get booed at home is us. It's unbelievable to me."
Now it is who else has to lose games to let the Bears squeak into the postseason. Because the first casualty of Sunday's 21-13 Green Bay win was the Bears' control over their own destiny. If they kept winning, it didn't matter what others did, because the Bears had a lead.
The tournament may in fact have begun and ended on Sunday. Instead, Green Bay left Soldier Field at 10-4 and with the division title. The Bears fell back to 8-6 and into a morass of playoff hopefuls.
The Bears would earn a wildcard berth by winning their final two games coupled with one of the following scenarios: 1) One Vikings loss and one Giants loss; 2) One Vikings loss and two Seahawks losses; 3) One Giants loss and two Seahawks losses; 4) One Vikings loss, one Redskins loss and one Cowboys loss; 5) Two Seahawks losses, one Redskins loss and one Cowboys loss.
This game completely changed on Cutler's mindless interception at the end of the first half. He can not throw that pass. Simply can't throw it. And he certainly can't act surprised because Devin Hester did something wrong.
You don't lose to your archrivals six consecutive times and stand still. You don't play as poorly as the Bears did Sunday and have people hold on to their jobs.
Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenbloom sounds off on Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall for his postgame comments calling for accountability on offense.