Breaking News Bar
updated: 12/11/2012 7:45 PM

Bears look like they're on a road to nowhere

Success - Article sent! close
  • Bears cornerback Charles Tillman sits on the bench Sunday during the second half against the Minnesota Vikingsin Minneapolis. The Vikings won 21-14.

    Bears cornerback Charles Tillman sits on the bench Sunday during the second half against the Minnesota Vikingsin Minneapolis. The Vikings won 21-14.
    Associated Press


If the Bears can't beat the Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field, what's the point of even making the playoffs?

They could lose to Green Bay and still weasel their way into the postseason with victories over the Lions and Cardinals, but what would that prove?

That sequence of events would only confirm what the first 13 games of the season have already shown: the Bears can usually defeat bad teams, but they usually can't beat good teams. And when teams get to the playoffs, they usually encounter very good teams, who are even better when they're playing at home, something the Bears likely won't be doing. They're currently clinging to the last playoff seed.

If the Bears can't beat a good team with a homefield advantage Sunday, then they don't have much of a chance to knock off a playoff team in a hostile environment. That point has already been made this season.

If you're looking for an impressive road victory by coach Lovie Smith's team this season, you're wasting your time. There are none.

The only team with a winning record the Bears have defeated on the road this season is the Cowboys, whose failures at home have been well documented.

In the palace that owner Jerry Jones has created, his team has lost five of its last eight games and is just 3-3 this season, including a 34-18 loss to the Bears.

Since a season-opening victory over the surprising 9-4 Colts, the Bears have yet to prove they can defeat a quality team even at home.

A loss to the Packers would be the Bears' fifth in six games overall. And, if they fail to make the playoffs because of that or if they miss out on the postseason because of a loss to the Cardinals (is that even possible?) or the Lions, a major Halas Hall shake-up can be expected.

A non-playoff season would be the fifth in six years for coach Lovie Smith and make it very easy for first-year general manager Phil Emery to waive bye-bye and bring in his own guy.

With a year left on his contract, an extension seemed a safe bet five games ago for Smith. Now it's more likely that, even if he's back for a 10th season, it will be as a lame duck who needs to win big or move on.

Smith is believed to have built up a great deal of goodwill with the McCaskey family, and his overall record of 79-62 is clearly superior to the NFL norm. But it's just as clear that Smith's popularity among the Bears' fan base is eroding.

If it comes down to goodwill vs. the disapproval of the ticket-buying, jersey-wearing public, goodwill finishes a distant second.

And if Smith goes, most, if not all, of his staff will be sent packing as well. If that happens, and even if it doesn't, the face of the franchise could get much more than just a nip and a tuck.

Eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher's contract is up after this season, and he will not get a lucrative new deal given the injuries that have marred three of his last four seasons. Defensive end Julius Peppers has not played up to his $13 million annual salary. Any extension for quarterback Jay Cutler, who has a year left on his deal and has guided the Bears to just 1 playoff win in three years, would likely be tabled until next season.

Only one thing is certain:

If the Bears do beat the Packers, by the time the sun sets, there will be pulled hammies all over town from people sprinting to jump back on the Super Bowl bandwagon.

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.