Bears' playoff hopes may rest with RG3's knee
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III walks through the bench area with a brace on his knee during overtime of Sunday's game against the Ravens at Baltimore.
The walls have caved and the ceiling has fallen.
And, still, the news is not all bad for the Bears. It's mostly bad, but not all bad.
They do, after all, get to face the Cardinals in two weeks, the same Cardinals who lost by 58 Sunday.
So there's that.
If you want to assume that's a victory for the Bears — and it's dangerous to assume anything right now — it would put them at 9 wins for the year.
So what does that mean for their playoff hopes?
In the 10 years of the four-division format, 99 of 105 NFC teams reaching 10 victories (94 percent) have made it to the playoffs, and the Bears are at 8-5 after losing four of the last five.
They have Green Bay (9-4) at home Sunday and then road games at Arizona (4-9) and Detroit (4-9). Getting to 10 victories — while unlikely — would virtually guarantee them a playoff berth.
As for whether 9 wins keeps them in the conversation, seven NFC teams with fewer than 10 victories have earned a wild card since 2002.
Two teams have made it at 9-6-1, two at 9-7 and three at 8-8, though a 7-loss team hasn't made the NFC tourney in the last four years.
As it stands, the Bears own the sixth and final NFC playoff position, but their awful play the last month has allowed several teams to make up ground.
Ahead of the Bears is Green Bay, which will win the NFC North with a victory Sunday at Soldier Field, and Seattle, which also is 8-5 but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Let's assume the Bears win only one of their last three, which seems a safe bet for a team in complete free fall. Seattle would have to win only one of its last three (Bills, Niners, Rams) to stay ahead of the Bears.
That leaves only the final playoff spot as viable, and trailing the Bears within a game at 7-6 are Washington, Dallas and Minnesota.
Washington may not have QB Robert Griffin III (knee sprain) at a time when the Redskins have won four straight, with Cleveland, Philly and Dallas remaining on their schedule.
They're a candidate to win out if they have their QB, making them a serious threat to the Bears. RGIII has not been ruled out for Sunday, though he won't be 100 percent if he plays.
Dallas is still Dallas, and the Cowboys have to play Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Washington.
Scratch Dallas from the list.
The Vikings are at St. Louis (3 straight wins), at Houston and home against Green Bay, which will be playing for a playoff seed.
The Vikings may not win again.
St. Louis at 6-6-1 needs to win out and has Minnesota at home and then Tampa and Seattle on the road.
So as bad as it has been for the Bears, they have a shot to make the playoffs at 9-7, depending on how Washington handles an easy schedule and a QB injury.
If the two teams are tied at 9-7, it goes to conference record. Washington is currently 6-4 and the Bears are 5-4. The Bears seem poised to lose two more conference games, putting them at 6-6.
If Washington beats Cleveland and splits with Philly and Dallas, they'll be 7-5 in the NFC, tie the Bears at 9-7 and go to the postseason, while Lovie Smith's team goes home early.
Add it all up and the Bears better hope RGIII isn't healthy enough to play like RGIII. That's their best chance to make the playoffs.
Then again, does making the tourney do anything more than extend the Bears' season by a week?
No huddle, no clue
The Bears' clock management in the fourth quarter Sunday was laughable, as they failed to go no-huddle down a pair of scores, until the final minutes when the game was over and Minnesota was in prevent.
Lovie Smith, naturally, said it was fine and they were still in a position to win if they had recovered the onside kick with 1:47 left and no timeouts.
Seriously? That was the plan?
Congrats to Naperville Central's Cam Brate, a junior tight end for Harvard, who was named Academic All-America last week after recently being awarded first team All-Ivy League by unanimous vote.
The lone representative from the Ivy League on the academic team, Brate caught 41 passes for 592 yards and 6 TDs and scored the winning touchdown for Harvard (8-2) in the grudge match with Yale.
Brate was one of just five FCS players named to the first team and one of nine below the senior class to make either first- or second-team honors.
NIU's Alan Baxter (first team), Jason Schepler (second team) and Nabal Jefferson (second team) also were named Academic All-Americans. NIU led the country with three players named to the academic team.
The good cause
Even with no hockey, the Blackhawks are hosting their annual toy drive supporting USO families and the Ann & Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
Unwrapped toys will be collected in bins inside Gate 4 at the UC and at rinks throughout the Chicago area through Friday. Visit chicagoblackhawks.com for more info and rink locations.
CBS' Rich Gannon, on the Jets: "They've been reluctant to play Tim Tebow all season. That tells you something about how they feel about his skills as a quarterback."
NFL Network's Steve Mariucci: "Andrew Luck is a candidate for MVP."
From @TheFakeESPN: "Steelers give Charlie Batch Life Alert button for his birthday."
And finally …
TBS' Conan O'Brien: "The International Olympic Committee has stripped India of its right to participate in the games. In response, India said, 'Fine, just try logging on to your computers now.'"
•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
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