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updated: 12/23/2012 8:55 PM

Smith, Bears can survive with a little help

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  • The Bears' Alonzo Spellman closes in on Ryan Lindley as the Cardinals' quarterback looks for an open receiver.

      The Bears' Alonzo Spellman closes in on Ryan Lindley as the Cardinals' quarterback looks for an open receiver.
    Associated Press

 
 

What a weekend!

The world, the Bears' playoff hopes and Lovie Smith's coaching tenure all survived.

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All of this was predictable regardless of what the Mayan calendar blabbed.

The world always has at least another week before imploding. The Cardinals had no chance of beating the Bears. Smith has a bunker full of canned fruit, bottled water and sub-. 500 opponents to get him through this season and into a contract extension.

Most important -- more so than even Planet Earth continuing to spin -- is that the Bears beat the Cardinals 28-13 to remain in contention for the postseason.

"We couldn't talk about all the playoff scenarios," Smith said after the Bears' record improved to 9-6 with one regular-season game remaining.

Scoreboard watching did reveal that Minnesota upset Houston. That meant the Bears had to beat the Cardinals on Sunday in Arizona and the Lions in Detroit next week to keep hope alive.

"We knew we had to just get ourselves in position for that 10th victory, and that's what we did," Smith said.

Next week is murky. The Bears have another presumed patsy in Detroit but again need help to make the playoffs.

The Cardinals are as miserable an NFL team as anyone could imagine, but they beat the Lions 38-10 just last week.

That victory ended Arizona's nine-game losing streak. Detroit has a seven-game losing streak.

Stop it already we get it the Bears can beat bad teams. Essentially their successes come against inferior NFL competition and the failures come against superior NFL competition.

(Please, don't point out the Bears beat Indianapolis; that was in the season opener when the Colts themselves thought they stunk.)

Rarely has a team been as much a function of its schedule as the Bears have been this season. That isn't encouraging if they do qualify for the postseason, where there won't be any Titans, Jaguars or Cardinals.

Detroit likely will offer more resistance than Arizona did if only because the Lions won't be down to their third- and fourth-string quarterbacks the way the Cardinals were.

Even with thousands of Bears fans making the drive to Detroit, the crowd noise in Ford Field will provide more of a challenge.

Also, Bears running back Matt Forte left Arizona with a gimpy ankle, placing in doubt his availability for next week.

The Lions are better than their record, have stars like Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh and would like nothing better than to end their division rival's season.

If the Bears had to have another must-win game against another bad team, the Lions wouldn't have been their first choice.

Still, Smith said gratefully, "We're in position for the biggest game we've had in a long time."

It will help at Detroit if quarterback Jay Cutler has a better quarterback rating than 76.8 and makes his first completion prior to the second quarter.

"I was aware it wasn't pretty," Cutler said of the offense in Arizona. "It wasn't our best game, but we got done what we had to get done."

Now the Bears awkwardly must root for the Packers, of all people, to beat the Vikings in Minnesota next week.

"All we can do is get a win against Detroit," Smith said.

Otherwise you won't need a Mayan calendar to figure that this time Chicago's football world, the Bears' season and perhaps Lovie Smith's coaching tenure all would fail to survive.

What a weak end that would be!

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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