The Bears Den: December 27, 2013 - Week 17 Bears news & notes

Rich Schultz

Bears return to practice field - Larry Mayer: Four days after their lopsided loss in Philadelphia, the Bears return to the practice field Thursday to prepare for Sunday's winner-take-all showdown.

Rodgers returning to face Bears - Larry Mayer: Nearly two months after the Bears knocked him out of action with a broken collarbone, Aaron Rodgers will return to start Sunday's game in Chicago. McCarthy expects Lacy to play.

Follow WCG on Twitter; like us on Facebook (& click on 'Subscribed to'). Check out David "OSS" Taylor's CheekyMonkeyArt prints and t-shirts. Den pic in hi-res.

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Bears-Packers

For the finale, Bears get to face Rodgers - Bob LeGere: Aaron Rodgers' return is bad news for a Bears defense that has struggled against much lesser talent.

Bears prepping for Rodgers' return - Fred Mitchell: Bears defense to face supreme test versus Rodgers, not counting on him playing tentatively because of the injury. Rich Campbell: Trestman unfazed; Dan Wiederer: Cutler: "I play offense."

Bears prepared for Rodgers - Michael C. Wright: Chicago’s struggling defense certainly recognizes the challenge it faces against one of the game’s top QBs, but in terms of preparation, nothing changes.

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - The panel on Rodgers' return for Green Bay. Are the Packers wise to take the risk? [KAPCON: 5]

Packers fair measuring stick for Trestman-Cutler tandem - Adam Hoge: As an organization, this is exactly the type of scenario you want to evaluate where your team stands.

Offense has something to prove, too - Mark Potash: While it hardly was the biggest culprit in the Bears’ 54-11 loss to the Eagles, the offense played a key role in the rout and has some atoning to do.

Sunday really could be Cutler's final exam - Dan Wiederer: Pressure-level elevated on QB to deliver Sunday in a big game against the bitter rival Packers with his future and the NFC North on the line.

Cutler looks beyond horrid past vs. Packers - Michael C. Wright: Despite a putrid recent history against the Packers, Bears QB doesn’t plan to make Sunday’s regular-season finale about personal vindication.

Bears’ ‘new offense’ gives Cutler cause to end Packers’ hex - Adam L. Jahns: There’s no better way for Cutler to finally show that he’s a different, more capable and effective player than by beating the team that’s beaten the swagger out of him more often than not.

Cutler can show he's money (or counterfeit) - Steve Rosenbloom: Facing the Packers for the NFC North title is the kind of game that gets a QB paid. Or cast adrift. Your move, Jay Cutler.

Bears need more than Cutler to beat Packers - David Haugh: Cutler is right that the Bears must play well as a whole to beat the Packers. This game will define the Bears' season, not their QB.

Team notes - Bob LeGere: Cutler 1-7 against Packers but is running most productive offense as a Bear; roster & injury news.

Game preview - Michael C. Wright and Rob Demovsky look at the two teams heading into Sunday's showdown.

[Video] View from the Moon - Moon Mullin on the importance of Sunday for Cutler, what impact Rodgers' return will have, and how can the Bears help the defense?

Know thy enemy - Rob Demovsky: As if having a playoff berth on the line Sunday wasn't enough, the announcement of Rodgers' return provided an added boost Thursday. Return has two-fold impact.

Matt Bowen: Scouting the Bears - Expect Aaron Rodgers to work deep vertically: QB burned the Bears with a toss to Jordy Nelson for big yardage when he was able to make the catch in front of Major Wright.

Stats & Info - John McTigue with key matchups for the game.

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Bearsss

Special Teams slump has hurt Bears - Steve Silverman: The Bears can’t afford to give yards away on special teams, but they are doing that in generous fashion.

Tucker not alone among 'collapse' coaches - Moon Mullin: If Mel Tucker is the problem behind the decline and fall of the defense, this season has to rank as an all-timer for DCs who suddenly got bad or stupid.

Team notes - Michael C. Wright: Earl Bennett excused from practice for personal reasons; Bears sign former CFL WR from Saints' practice squad; injury news.

Team notes - Dan Wiederer: Sunday looms as potential Bears finale for many; Earl Bennett away for family issue; more notes.

Bears mailbag - Brad Biggs answers questions about defensive woes, how much blame Tucker deserves, Year 2 of Trestman's offense, and the pressure on Cutler.

Bears near bottom of playoff hopefuls - Hub Arkush: The Bears should win on Sunday, but it shouldn't lead them to believe they are anything more than slightly above average.

Check WCGer Sackman's selection of Bears-themed tops here, or some t-shirt designs here.

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Ditka

Mike Ditka: '88 heart attack made me 'vulnerable' - Mark Strotman: Ditka said he knew he'd return to the team as quick as he could because it's who he was: head coach of the Chicago Bears.

[Video] - Ditka, players recall Da Coach's heart attack.

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Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Packers - Jeffri Chadiha: With Rodgers' return, it's not a question of the Packers making the playoffs, but how far can go they go with him.

Know thy enemy: Lions - Michael Rothstein: If Calvin Johnson plays Sunday, it'd be a bad move for Detroit.

Know thy enemy: Lions - (AP) There’s plenty of blame to go around, but it’s particularly hard to ignore the performance of Stafford during the team’s late-season slide.

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