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updated: 11/22/2011 8:45 PM

Schedule biggest factor in Bears' favor

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  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler warms up on the sideline before going back in the game after injuring his right thumb in the fourth quarter Sunday.

      Bears quarterback Jay Cutler warms up on the sideline before going back in the game after injuring his right thumb in the fourth quarter Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

This is no knock on Jay Cutler, but with him or without him for the remainder of the regular season, the Bears still make the playoffs.

Coach Lovie Smith says Cutler will be back before the end of the regular season, but they won't need him until the playoffs.

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The Bears probably could play Matt Forte at quarterback and beat the Chiefs, Broncos and Seahawks, which are their next three games after Sunday's date with the Raiders in Oakland.

None of those three teams currently have a quarterback situation who's any more favorable than the Bears'. Victories in those three games would give the Bears 10 wins with two games left -- at Green Bay and Minnesota -- all but assuring a postseason berth.

If the Bears should stumble against the Chiefs, Broncos or Seahawks and need to win one of the final two, recent history says they should be able to handle the Vikings, whom they have beaten four straight times by a combined 142-67.

However, the Vikings have won three of the last four at home, and three straight at the Metrodome by a combined 92-37.

The Chiefs' starting quarterback, Matt Cassel, is possibly out for the year, so they're going with Tyler Palko. That's all you need to know and, if you watched the Chiefs (4-6) fall Monday night to New England, you already knew that.

Palko reminds me of a right-handed guy trying to throw left-handed. You think Tim Tebow has a weak arm? Check out Palko. The Chiefs have scored a total of 16 points in their last three games.

The Broncos (5-5) have Tebow at quarterback, but he appears to be a quarterback in name only. He's still learning the position and can't throw the ball downfield with any accuracy, but he is a threat as a runner and has compiled a 4-1 record as a starter.

That can't last. If the Bears, with their speed on defense, can essentially render Michael Vick a nonfactor, they should have little trouble containing Tebow.

The Seahawks (4-6) are led by quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. He wasn't any good in Minnesota with the Vikings, and he's not any better in Seattle.

Jackson's greatest asset is his mobility, but he's no Vick.

The Seahawks still are capable of giving even superior teams a battle when they're at home, but this game is at Soldier Field, where the Bears are 5-1 and have scored 30 points or more in all 5 of the victories.

Before defeating a lousy Rams team 24-7 in St. Louis on Sunday, the Seahawks were 1-4 on the road and had scored a total of 33 points in the 4 defeats.

The Bears couldn't ask for a better situation in which to develop inexperienced backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. For the remainder of the regular season, the only defense they face that is in the upper half of the NFL in yards and points allowed is Seattle's.

The biggest potential problem for the Bears, especially if they plan to rely more heavily on the run game to take pressure off Hanie, is that half of their remaining opponents have excellent run defenses.

The Seahawks, Vikings and Broncos are all in the top 10 in fewest yards allowed per rushing attempt, and the Seahawks and Vikings also are top 10 in total rushing yards allowed.

HOW THE BEARS' FINAL SIX OPPONENTS RANK DEFENSIVELY

Tot. rush avg. pass avg. QB

Yds. Pts. Yds. Rush yds. Pass sacks rate

Raiders 24 27 25 31t 20 5 6t 6

CHIEFS 23 25 28 14t 14 27t 32 22

Broncos 17 23 16 8 21 22 8 28

SEAHWAKS 11 14 8 3 15 13t 22 15

Packers 30 15 12 25 31 24 15 11

Vikings 19 30 9 5t 28 27t 1 31

ALL CAPS -- Bears home game

•Follow Bob's Bears reports via Twitter @BobLeGere and check out our Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com.

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