There's more than just the team's season riding on this one. A look at some of the players - and a whole squad - who are going to get paid or get gone based on how this all-important Packers game turns out.
There's no amount of Polish sausage you could offer me to rewatch last week's stinker, and with the Bears having last met the Packers in a Battle of the Backups, there's not a whole lot of sense in looking at that tape either. Instead, let's set the table for this weekend's game in terms of what we'll learn from a win, and what we'll be consoled by in a loss.
Cutler - Lovers Gonna Love, or Haters Gonna Hate?
For better or worse, this game could define Jay Cutler's career as a Bear. WIn and you're the QB who finally was able to break the stranglehold that Aaron Rodgers has over the division, or lose and have a whole off-season of fans and media calling for your head. I don't think Phil Emery is going to see this game in quite that light, and I doubt that we'll have seen the last of Cutler even if he drops a stinker on Sunday, but there's going to be a bit of love or a lot of hate after this one.
Mel Tucker-ed Out?
If the Bears can't stop the Packers, Tucker is gone. Done. Finito. There's not much else to it. If you're looking for one reason to actively root for defeat, this is the one. If, however, he can get things together and slow the Packers down enough for the offense to hold up their end of the bargain, I'm willing to give him another shot - after all, he would have gotten enough out of a sad bunch of rookies and near-retirees to squeak into the playoffs.
The Defense - Time to Move Up in the Draft?
Should the Bears win and go on to the playoffs, there's a strong chance they could end up a one-and-done team because of the above-mentioned horrendous defense. Bears fans have waited too long for a playoff game to root for anything other than a win on Sunday, but if Rodgers and company do end up saving Bears fans from the almost-inevitable drubbing Chicago will eventually receive in the postseason, it will at least come with the silver lining of a big jump in draft picks. Depending on how all the Week 17 games work out, the Bears could quite possibly end up in the top 15 on draft day.
No playoffs would suck, but at least Phil Emery would have all the impetus he needed to clean the defensive house in free agency and load back up with new players in the draft and off the street. And with the holes the team has across the defense, the Bears could certainly put a top fifteen pick to good use, whether it's to get a blue-chip pass rusher or a defensive back who can actually make a play. Phil Emery can clean up the roster even after a playoff run, so I'm not quite willing to root for failure just so the team can jump a couple of picks higher into the draft, but's it would definitely be the other big silver lining of a loss.
Careers are riding on this one, folks, so let's hope it's a good one. I lump myself in with the people who think the Bears have a strong chance of pulling this one out, and while I'm not quite ready to bet the money line on this one, I'm thinking we won't have seen the last of these 2013 Bears when the lights go out at Soldier Field this Sunday.
What's your "If the Bears win Sunday, this, but if they lose, that" scenario?
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