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The Weekend Bears Den: December 29, 2012 - Week 17 News and Notes

Week 17. Bears-Lions. Do or do not. There is no try!

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Joniak’s keys to the game - Jeff Joniak’s thoughts on what the Bears need to achieve to win this game (other than score more points).

Know thy enemy - Moon Mullin: Forgive the members of the Bears defense if, while they watch tape of the Detroit Lions, they wonder if someone inadvertently put on film of the Chicago offense.

Darryl Drake and Dave Toub give maligned Lovie Smith emphatic support - Darryl Drake: ‘‘It’s a blessing for me to work for him. I don’t know if I’ll work for anybody else." Absolutely everyone who reads WCG: Oh, we're with you there, Darryl...

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Game preview - Moon Mullin: The Lions may have several key players out for Sunday's game and are on the heels of a seven-game losing streak, but the Bears know what Detroit is capable of and what's at stake.

[Video] Thayer's game preview - Thayer and Mayer look ahead to Bears-Lions.

Four Downs - Will Megatron will have a big game Sunday? Will the season will be salvaged if the Bears make the playoffs? If so, should Lovie be extended?

Game preview - Tom Thayer backed up Henry Melton's comments that the Lions are a little cheap, and gave his thoughts on the running game with Forte coming off an injury.

You can only control so much — just ask Mike Tice - Sean Jensen: ‘‘At the end of the day, you want to get in the show. You want to have a chance,’’ Tice said. ‘‘We can’t control our own destiny, but we can control our half of it, which is winning a football game.’’

Matt Bowen's matchups to watch - RG3, A.P. and Calvin Johnson. Can they be contained?

[Video] ESPN - NFL Kickoff OT breaks down the key matchups for the final week of the regular season, including both NFCN games.

Game preview - Maggie Hendricks: It's hard to remember a Bears game in recent history with so much at stake. The Bears have to win (and need the Packers to win, as well) for a playoff spot.

[Video] ESPN First Take - Will the Bears' recent trash talk motivate the Lions and come back to haunt them?

NFCN Blog: Final Word - Kevin Seifert: The Bears want to avoid becoming the second team in 23 seasons to miss the playoffs after a 7-1 start.

Game preview - Adam L. Jahns: Falcons’ template (a play-action version of Sackman's "Throw it deep" design) may be Bears’ best bet against Lions. Teams most desperate for a win - Gregg Rosenthal: Charles Tillman said on "NFL AM" that he doesn't want to play for any coach other than Lovie Smith. Tillman and his buddies better make sure then that they don't lose the season finale in Detroit.

Division couldn’t run any deeper in contentious NFC North - Adam L. Jahns: It’s a perfect mess for the NFC North. The Bears and Packers are the favorites going in, but both are on the road. Nothing will come easy.

Team notes - Larry Mayer: After the defense scored two TDs last weekend against the Cardinals, an encore performance Sunday in Detroit certainly would provide a boost for the Bears. Plus, injury news.

Roster news - Brad Biggs: Matt Forte is expected to start on Sunday but an injury to Armando Allen has prompted Harvey Unga's promotion to the roster.

Team notes - Brad Biggs: Forte expects to start Sunday despite sprained ankle; Scott returns to start at RT; injury news.

Injury report - Moon Mullin: Brian Urlacher was in full pads for Friday's practice, but remains "doubtful" for Sunday's make-or-break game against the Lions. Brad Biggs: Team planning for his return in the postseason.

Team notes - Mark Potash: Injury and roster news, and a history lesson from 2008's finale.

Game picks - The ESPNChicago crew all pick the Bears, but most expect it to be close. Same for the Tribune writers. CBSChicago are less unified.

Special Edition Detroit Lions XBox Controller released - It looks like a Playstation controller, but the point is still valid and chuckleworthy (Vikings version here).



Poor O-Line play has multiple coaches on the 'Hot Seat' - Cardinals and Bears are two examples of clubs with major issues along the offensive front.

It’s time for a change, Chicago - Dan Durkin: Thank Lovie Smith for bringing the Bears back to a level of respectability, but let him go for being unable to get the team a championship after nine years on the job.

It takes a village to improve Bears' passing offense - Moon Mullin: There's no one reason for the Bears' passing attack to be so disjointed.

Matt Bowen: Scouting the Bears - Bears must produce in red zone: There should be many viable options for Jay Cutler against the Lions in scoring territory as long as he doesn't force the ball.

Brad Biggs' Four downs - Thoughts ahead of tomorrow's game. Playoffs or bust for Lovie, Urlacher?

Coach's Big Decision - Michael C. Wright: What if Urlacher starts, and two series into the game it appears he is hurting more than helping?

Game preview - Michael C. Wright breaks down the Bears-Lions matchup. Nuts & Bolts.

Three Bears - Peppers, Tillman, Cutler. Who's the daddy?

Know thy enemy - Dan Pompei's scouting report on RB Mikel Leshoure.

Team news - Dan Pompei: Pat Mannelly could join Bears management after his playing days; Tillman leading Bears in defensive big plays.

NFCN Blog - Kevin Seifert weighs in on the issue of Calvin Johnson's targets being inflated for 'garbage yards'.

Know thy enemies - Moon Mullin: The Bears must take care of business Sunday against the Lions, butif the Packers are to take care of business, too, it's a good thing Aaron Rodgers is in Minnesota.


Sunday Updates

Game preview - Mark Potash looks at what to expect and at key matchups.

Game preview - Dave Birkett: The Bears are playing for their playoff lives, while the Lions’ season has been over for weeks. But these teams know each other well enough and have enough disdain for each other that this game should follow its usual knock-down, drag-out script.

View from the enemy - Ansar Khan: As important as ball security is in every game, its significance seems magnified against the Bears.

View from the enemy - Anwar S. Richardson: The Lions must find a way to disrupt Cutler on Sunday, and expect a lot of Stafford-Megatron, hopefully for a TD.

View from the enemy - Josh Katzenstein: Lions are playing for respect, but lack weapons in all three phases.

Bears set for must-win clash against Lions - Larry Mayer: A playoff spot is on the line today for the Bears, who will earn a wildcard berth with a win over the Lions in Detroit coupled with a Vikings loss to the Packers later in the day.

Make-or-break finales have been full of drama - Larry Mayer: Sunday marks the seventh time since 1970 that the Bears' playoff fate will be determined in their final regular season game. The previous six have been filled with drama.

Bears determined to avoid repeat of ‘08 - Moon Mullin: The Bears have been here before. They know they can blow it. That Houston loss still stings.

Lovie Smith loses vote of no confidence - David Haugh: In Week 17 of Season 9, Smith's Bears still can't move the ball consistently, can't score touchdowns offensively, can't beat the Packers. Nothing logically suggests the Bears' overall offensive approach will change before next season if Smith stays.

Bears’ efforts to save Lovie Smith should’ve come sooner - Mark Potash: After nine years, there’s nothing the Bears can do against the Lions to redefine his tenure. Road playoff victories, of which Lovie has none to date, command respect. A victory over the Lions, no matter how impressive, only buys him another day.

Lovie Smith, Bears playing a high-stakes game - Bob LeGere: Does it make sense that one game supersedes the cumulative effect of the previous 149?

Team notes - Bob LeGere: Podlesh gives problems the boot; Urlacher doubtful; Marshall and Briggs on the Pro Bowl.


Other Bears news

Four Downs - Ditka talks. You listen.

ESPN Chicago Chatwrap - Michael C. Wright's Q&A session.

[Video] CTL discussion - Will the Bears make the postseason, and what direction will the Bears go with Lovie?

[Video] CTL discussion - Has Urlacher played his last game as a Bear?

Lovie acknowledges jobs are on the line - Preparing to sacrifice more assistants?

Tillman the Bears' nominee for 'Man of the Year' - Charles Tillman has been named the Bears' nominee for the 2012 Walter Payton NFL "Man of the Year" award.


Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Tom Pelissero: Calm behind scenes should mean stability in Vikings coaches.

NFL head coach tracker: What changes are coming? - With Black Monday just around the corner, Gregg Rosenthal examines potential coaching changes for 12 franchises.

Black Monday Primer - Don Banks: Ownership in Chicago is thought to be tired of the Bears' maddening habit of inconsistency, with Lovie Smith unable to field a team that gives a relatively predictable effort from week to week.

Know thy enemies - PFF's 3 Things to focus on for Packers-Vikings.'s Best of the week 16 cheerleaders - This potential future Mrs Spongie can jingle my bells! Jingle - Bells - Jingle - Bells - Jingle - all - the - way - Oh - what - fun - it - is - (and if you like brunettes, aka. the other potential future Mrs Spongie) - to - ride - on - a - one - horse - open - sleigh!

Let's hope tomorrow's games bring tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy...