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The Bears Den: December 18, 2013 - Week 16 news & notes

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Mayer's Chalk Talk - Larry discusses the longest FG in Bears history, if a penalty against Hester was assessed Sunday in Cleveland, and a little-known rule on special teams.

Bears’ success unlikely to make their free agents pricey - Mark Potash: As far as the 2014 free agents are concerned, Emery and Cliff Stein are unlikely to have to jump through too many hoops to keep everybody they want this offseason.

Cutler not worth the big bucks - Mike North: With Cutler’s average performance this season, how can the Bears justify giving him a long term contract?

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.

Chicago Bears leaders in the NFC North

Bears in control of playoff destiny - Bob LeGere: Win out and the Bears will host a first-round game against a wild-card team. But it's not as easy as it sounds.

Playoff Scenarios - Adam Hoge: Thanks to the Lions, Trestman’s team is now in full control of the NFC North.

Week 16 playoff scenarios - Rich Campbell: With some help, the Bears could clinch the NFC North division title as soon as Sunday night.

Winning NFC North only route to playoffs for Bears, Packers, Lions - Adam L. Jahns: If the Bears are in the driver’s seat in the NFC North, then the Packers are right next to them on the passenger’s side.

Bears back in control of NFC North - Michael C. Wright: Several players privately wondered if the team's postseason aspirations were cooked after the Dec 1 loss to the Vikings. Now they have complete control of their own postseason destiny.

[Video] - Ross Tucker looks at the NFC North race.

Resilient Bears find themselves in enviable position - Rick Telander: Do the Bears deserve to be in first place? Hard to say, except that there they are. And you get what you take in football.

Stupid, dirty, choking Lions put Bears in control - Steve Rosenbloom: The Lions went all Lions, and suddenly, the Bears control the NFC North. It's on you, Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler.

Ravens' win in Detroit gives Bears a lift - Fred Mitchell: Lions are in chase mode as the Bears took over sole possession of the NFC North lead, and the Packers moved into second place.

Bears-Packers finale could be flexed to prime time - Ed Sherman: What could be better than a winner-take-all Bears-Packers game for the NFC North title at frigid Soldier Field? (Non-Tribune link.)

NFL toys with integrity with some flex scheduling - Mike Mulligan: Moving Bears-Eagles to Sunday night could give both teams motivation to rest key players for division-deciding season finales.

With Lions loss, Bears control own destiny - Steve Shoup: Even if Chicago falls short of the playoffs, this has been a positive season for the Bears with how they have weathered these injuries and are still playing meaningful games till the end of the season.

Check out playoff permutations for yourself with the ESPN playoff machine [Tip of the cap to David Taylor].

Marc Trestman

Trestman 'negative' coaching working for Bears - Moon Mullin: Marc Trestman, while a paragon of positive most of the time, has fortified his team in its last two wins with an extra edge gained from focusing some attention on the negative.

Bushrod lauds Trestman, Cutler - Larry Mayer: Jermon Bushrod was impressed with how Trestman dealt with the QB situation and how Cutler overcame adversity Sunday in Cleveland.

Trestman remains steadfast in his decisions - Bob LeGere: Marc Trestman is quick to spread the credit for the team's successes to everyone on the staff and the roster, but he's not afraid to make the hard decisions by himself or to stay true to his word.

[Video] - Why does Marc Trestman love gridiron? [Again, thanks to David Taylor.]


Lunch with Larry - Guest: this is getting stupid LM: We passed that point about 20 minutes ago, but I'm trying to keep it informing as well as entertaining.

Forte key catalyst for Bears' offense - James Neveau: The Bears’ offense has been at its best this season when it has been able to effectively mix the run and the pass, and Forte is the guy helping make that happen.

Joniak's Journal - Bears have new life entering December; Trestman on QB mechanics; clash of offenses on Sunday; Chip Kelly's offense doesn't waste time.

Team notes - Moon Mullin: Events from Cleveland show Trestman was 'right' in Minnesota; NFC North could be decided by Sunday night.

[Video] - Tom Thayer breaks down three successful plays that TE Martellus Bennett was involved in: one catch, one chip and catch, and a block that set RB Michael Bush free for a 40-yard TD run.

Roster notes - Michael C. Wright: The Bears waived safety Sean Cattouse, work out three other players [including two safeties].

Stock Watch - Jeff Dickerson: Forte on verge of career year; who else is on the ascendancy, and whose stock is falling?

Earl Bennett close to second pay bump - Brad Biggs: After taking $1 million cut before the season, Bennett earned half of that back with his 30th reception and can recoup the rest if he catches 10 more.

Teams with best 2014 cap situation - Joel Corry examines the 10 NFL teams with the best cap situation heading into the offseason. Bears are at 4th.

Game preview - Steve Silverman looks at how Bears-Eagles match up at QB and by phase.

Kyle Long's learning curve a pleasure to observe - Dan Wiederer: Rookie guard has soaked up the knowledge from offensive minds Marc Trestman and Chip Kelly.

Kyle Long getting an education - Barry Rozner: Long thought he knew what “any given Sunday’’ meant before he played a down in the NFL, but he’s getting quite the education in what has become a minute-to-minute league.

[Audio] - Kyle Long joins Carmen & Jurko to discuss his support of Cutler, playing against his former college coach on Sunday in Philadelphia, and more.

[Video] - Alshon Jeffery sits down with Jeff Joniak to discuss his breakout second season as a Bears WR. [Audio] Dan Patrick Show: Don't ask Alshon Jeffery about Lane Kiffin.

With big plays adding up, Jeffery must also limit mental mistakes - Dan Wiederer: Alshon Jeffery has been a human highlight reel in recent weeks. But two penalties in Cleveland could have proven costly.

Football Outsiders - The Bears' offense is ranked 4th in their DVOA metric, while the defense are 22nd and special teams 12th.

Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Ben Goessling's Rapid reaction to Vikings 48, Eagles 30 ... Upon further review ... PFF's Three performances of note.

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Ben Goessling: Wilf mum on Frazier's, Spielman's futures ... If Frazier goes down, he'll go down fighting [He's gonna fight Wilf? - Den] ... Cassel's performance warrants longer look.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Rob Demovsky's Rapid reaction to Packers 37, Cowboys 36 ... Upon further review ... PFF's Three performances of note.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Rob Demovsky: Many elements to improbable comeback ... Aftermath of comeback ... Sticking with the run pays off for Packers ... Time to push the envelope with Rodgers?

Know thy enemy: Lions - Michael Rothstein's Rapid reaction to Lions 16, Raven 18 ... Upon further review ... Season on the brink after another loss ... PFF's Three performances of note.

Know thy enemy: Lions - Michael Rothstein: Schwartz' future now in question ... Why do Lions' issues persist? ... Larry Warford standing out on O-line.

Know thy enemy: Lions - Ryan Wilson: Stafford isn't solely responsible for the loss, but he looked nothing like the guy worthy of the contract extension he signed this offseason. Like most criticisms of Stafford's game, it comes down to decision making and mechanics.