For the Bears, It all Comes Down to This

Norm Hall

Nevermind the outcome of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings game, nevermind whatever looms on Black Monday for Lovie Smith and Co. Nevermind who or where the Bears could play a week from Sunday. All that matters is the 60 minutes ahead of the Bears this Sunday in Detroit.

This Sunday is what makes the NFL so great and why the scheduling move a few years ago to make week 17 all divisional match ups was genius.

This weekend there is no shortage of games with playoff implications, whether it's clinching, seeding or otherwise. Two division titles will be decided Sunday and at least two playoff spots will be decided and the seeding is still not set in stone.

While some teams will be able to rest for the playoffs (Broncos, Falcons and Texans), most are going to want or will definitely be playing for something.

While Bears fans are most negative about the fate of this season, no matter what happens I am excited for Sunday. I expect that the Bears will make the playoffs. I think the Bears can take care of business and I believe that the Packers will take care of the Vikings.

No one should be rooting against the Bears Sunday, especially because it's important to note that the Bears could still finish 10-6 and out of the playoffs. I feel like this is being lost in the shuffle.

Everyone seems to believe that it's black and white for the Bears; win and they're in and Lovie is safe, lose, they're out and a coaching search begins.

That's just not the case. I believe that the Bears could finish 10-6 and out of the playoffs and Lovie could stay. I also think he could be gone in that case. Basically, with the Bears, nothing will surprise me.

I believe that the Bears have decided Lovie's fate already. How could they not? The Bears cannot afford to have a long, drawn out coaching search like they did with the general manager position last year.

Phil Emery has been around nearly 11 months. He has worked with Lovie previously and he has watched closely this season. There is little doubt in my mind that Emery has already decided whether he believes Lovie Smith is the guy to lead the Bears to the promise land. There is absolutely no reason to think that Emery will really decide Lovie's fate based on the outcome of Sunday or even next Sunday's (if there is a next Sunday game for Chicago) game.

Emery has had long enough to evaluate and decide if he wants his own guy or not. No doubt, whether he is leaning one way or another, he has a list of candidates in mind, if not then he isn't doing his job. Perhaps he has one or two guys in mind that might not be available but he no doubt has back ups and guys he wants to interview.

It is the general manager's job to evaluate and decide the best course of action for his football team. He would not be doing his due diligence if he was marching into Sunday with no inkling of what he wanted to do with his head coach.

Which is why for Lovie and the players there is no reason to focus on anything beyond Sunday in Detroit. If you like Lovie, you'll leave it all on the field. If you want to keep your season going, you'll leave it all on the field. The players are not and cannot be concerned with anything beyond that.

I expect the Bears to leave it all on the field Sunday and play a hard, tough game; win or lose. There is too much on the line for anyone to be worried about anything else.

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