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The Weekend Bears Den: December 22, 2012 - Week 16 News and Notes

Fröhliche Weihnachten! (Gesundheit.)

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Reshuffled OL has big challenge in blitz-happy Cardinals - Brad Biggs: At 5-9, the Cardinals have nothing to lose, and DC Ray Horton is expected to be very aggressive.

Lovie Smith’s best chance to win it all starts when he, Bears part ways - Mark Potash: After nine years under Lovie Smith, the Bears’ ceiling is well defined. They’re great at kicking teams when they’re down. But with a chronically dysfunctional offense, to win the Super Bowl would require the moon and stars to align perfectly.

Who should Bears fans root for Sunday? - Larry Mayer: With the Bears battling for a wildcard berth, which results around the NFL Sunday would most benefit the Monsters of the Midway?

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Joniak’s keys to the game - Bears need to go into Arizona with the belief they can start converting opportunities into TDs, and defensively the belief they can dominant an inferior offense run by a rookie QB who has 45.0 rating.

[Video] Thayer's game preview - Tom Thayer and Larry Mayer break down the Bears-Cardinals game, as the Bears hope to get back into a Wildcard spot.

Marshall, Bears must be ready for Cardinals’ ‘vise’ coverage - Adam L. Jahns: The Cardinals at times lined up two players over Calvin Johnson in their 38-10 victory last week. Vise coverage looks as if they are treating him as a gunner on a punt team.

Know thy enemy - Moon Mullin: As the Bears prepare to face the Cardinals in the desert, they have quite a few obstacles to overcome if they want to secure a win.

Game notes - Larry Mayer: Ryan Lindley isn't exactly a household name, but the Bears aren't taking anything for granted as they prepare to face the rookie QB. Plus, injury and team news.

Know thy enemy - Mark Potash: Ryan who? Cardinals rookie QB not likely to turn tables like Kaepernick, Wilson.

[Video] Jurko & Waddle's preview - Tom Waddle and John Jurkovic look ahead to the Bears' clash with the Cardinals.

Game preview - Mark Potash looks at what to expect in the game.

[Video] View from the Moon - Looking ahead to the Cardinals and what changes could be coming for the Bears this offseason.

Rookie DE Shea McClellin has been solid despite injuries - Adam L. Jahns: The Cardinals’ offensive line has allowed 52 sacks this season, so Sunday might turn into a field day for the Bears’ defensive front.

[Video] Matt Bowen's playbook - How to slow down Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona. Whiteboard rating: 2.5/5.

PFF's 3 things to focus on - Nick Roach vs. the Cardinals' RBs, patchworld OLs, and a decided advantage on special teams for the Beloved.

NFCN Blog: Final Word - Kevin Seifert: The Bears probably need to win their final two in order to reach the playoffs and avoid being only the second team since 1990 to miss out after starting 7-1.. Given the state of the Bears' OL, it's reasonable to envision the Cardinals swarming Cutler in passing situations.

It's too bad the Bears-Cardinals local rivalry is a thing of the past - Fred Mitchell: If both teams still were based in Chicago, Sunday's game wouldn't be monumental in importance just for the Bears. Gregg Rosenthal: Bears among teams most desperate for a win.

Game preview - Maggie Hendricks: At the beginning of the season, did you expect that playoff hopes would come down to this?

Team news - Brad Biggs: Melton doubtful, Jennings and Bennett back; Marshall fined; more team news.

Injury report - Jeff Dickerson: Henry Melton is listed as doubtful, Costanzo and Scott are questionable, in which case Carimi is expected to return to RT.

Injury report - Adam L. Jahns: Jonathan Scott hopes to play; McClellin and Marshall both probable.

Game picks - Everyone but Jurko goes Bears for ESPN Chicago. ESPN mothership are all-in for the Bears; CBSChicago are mostly. WCG expect a Bears win, so we'd better. And the Tribune crew are unanimously pro-Bears.



Game preview - Moon Mullin: The Cardinals offense has struggled throughout the season and has gone through numerous QB changes, but the Bears have problems of their own they'll need to face in Arizona.

Game preview - Unit-by-unit comparison. It's not often we can say the Bears have an advantage on offense, but this one of those occasions.

Nuts & Bolts - Michael C. Wright breaks down the Bears' matchup against the Cardinals.

Coach's Big Decision - Michael C. Wright: If the Bears manage to take a lead, can Lovie Smith afford to rest some banged-up players?

Three Bears - Brad Biggs says Lance Briggs is too hot, Kellen Davis is too cold, and Brandon Marshall is just right.

Know thy enemy - Dan Pompei assembles a scouting report on Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson.

Game preview - David Haugh: The Bears need a coming-together party, and that can come only with a team-bonding victory that redirects them toward the playoffs.

Game notes - Dan Pompei: Alshon Jeffery still learning the tricks of the trade, must use subtler methods to create separation; offensive struggles not unusual for Bears; missing Bush.

Matt Bowen: Scouting the Bears - If Bears can confuse rookie and force Ryan Lindley into a quick decision with a five-man rush, he can be set up for an interception.

One more (final?) time: The season is in Cutler's hands - Moon Mullin: Jay Cutler isn't the only reason the Bears have lost five of six games, but he has more control over the team than any one player on the roster. So how will he fare Sunday with the season on the line?

Game notes - Sean Jensen: Cardinals rookie first-round WR Michael Floyd isn't having the season he'd hoped for, but is staying positive; Arizona's D are #1 at applying pressure on passing plays.


Other Bears news

What happens next is real key for 'fragile' Jeffery - Moon Mullin: Alshon Jeffery has to figure out how to play physical without get OPI calls again. Luckily, he won't be relying on Darryl Drake.

Bears’ defense won’t point finger at struggling offense - Adam L. Jahns: Asked whether he believed the Bears’ typically solid defense has been held back by the offense this season and in years past, Lance Briggs chose not to answer. At least not now.

[Video] CTL discussion - Tice takes the blame for offensive woes, but where else does the blame lie?

Lack of offense could be Lovie's doom - David Kaplan: Lovie Smith has struggled to put together a competitive offense each year he's been in Chicago, and that ineffectiveness could push him out of his position at the end of the season.

Four downs - Is this the end for Lovie and Urlacher as Bears? Will Jeffery develop in a big-play receiver? Is Tice more at blame for the team's collapse than Lovie?

Lovie's not going anywhere - Scoop Jackson: Despite another disappointing finish, Lovie Smith's future with the Bears looks safe.

NFCN Blog - Kevin Seifert with some NFC North players who deserve to be under consideration for the 2012 Pro Bowl.

[Video] Matt Bowen's playbook - How the Packers beat the Bears. Whiteboard rating: 3.5/5.

ESPN Chicago Chatwrap - Michael C. Wright's Q&A session. Includes mention of Qasim Mitchell. Qasim Mitchell.


Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Tom Pelissero: Could deteriorating relationship with Leslie Frazier spell the end of Percy Harvin's four seasons in Minnesota?

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Vikings-Texans preview: AP's pursuit of a long-standing NFL record has also helped run the Vikings into position for a playoff spot. PFF's 3 things to focus on - With each side having their own deadly runner, the battle between OT Duane Brown and Jared Allen will be key.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Kevin Seifert: In a surprise move, Jeff Saturday benched as Packers' starting center.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Titans-Packers preview: Mike McCarthy isn't planning to sit his star players this time around. PFF's 3 things to focus on - Having upset the Jets, do the Titans have enough left to spoil the Packers' bid at a higher seed in the NFC?

Know thy enemy: Lions - Falcons-Lions preview: After earning a playoff spot last season, the reeling Lions are relegated to the role of spoilers. PFF's 3 things to focus on - Who will Falcons rely on to slow Calvin Johnson's pursuit of the single-season receiving yardage record?'s Best of the week 15 cheerleaders - All I want for Christmas is youuu, potential future Mrs Spongie!

A ChristHass ballad to bring a tear to the eye...