Bears

Bears determined to avoid repeat of 08

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Bears determined to avoid repeat of 08

The Bears have been here before. They know they can blow it.

With a win in the final game of the 2008 season, the Bears could go to the playoffs. It was that simple; beat the 7-8 Texans in Houston and it didnt matter what anybody else did.

Houston had even lost the week before to the woeful (3-11) Oakland Raiders.

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The Bears went out to a 10-0 lead and then lost focus, the game, the playoffs and, years later, perhaps Lovie Smiths job if they do not at least win Sunday in Detroit.

We were in this position a few years back, Smith recalled. We looked at all the different scenarios and we forgot about the one that really mattered us winning the game.

The playoffs that year vanished when the Philadelphia Eagles crushed the Dallas Cowboys in the later game. That wont be an issue this time.

The broadcast of the Green Bay-Minnesota game is expected to be piped in over the radio on the Bears charter flight home. But if the Bears dont win first, there wont be any need for Wayne Larrivees account.

MORE: Bears in good shape with Rodgers in Minnesota

That Houston loss still stings.

Shoot, too much looking over and looking to see what other teams were doing other than keeping the Texans out of the end zone, said linebacker Lance Briggs. That was another spoiler. They left that season with somewhat of a nice taste in their mouth and left us with a sour taste. Its all within our control.

Smith not the only NFC North coach under job fire

A Detroit loss would leave Schwartz 20 games under .500 (22-42) for his four seasons, only one (2011) with a winning record and playoff trip. And the Lions likely would not have reached the postseason had Jay Cutler not gone down with a broken thumb at a point where the Bears had moved past the Lions.

MORE: It takes a village to improve Bears' passing offense

A Bears win would leave Smith 18 games above .500 for his nine-year Chicago career (81-63), 10-6 for the 2012 season, and very likely returning in 2013 to at least coach out the final year of the contract extension he signed in 2011.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: