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First round of Bears 'playoffs' starts Sunday vs. Pats

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First round of Bears 'playoffs' starts Sunday vs. Pats

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 2:31 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

In the first round of the 2010 playoffs, the Bears have drawn the New England Patriots.

In the second round, they have the Minnesota Vikings. Then the New York Jets. And don't forget the Green Bay Packers; the Bears certainly have not.

The de facto "playoffs," the time of year when one loss effectively ends your season, have in fact begun for the Bears. They are ahead of the Packers in the NFC North in the standings but losing in Green Bay the final week of the season could cost the Bears dearly even if their record is superb. The Patriots and Jets may not be NFC opponents but the win-loss totals can't tell the difference.

"Absolutely," said safety Chris Harris. "Every game in December is a playoff game for me. We're at 9-3 right now. We definitely don't want that to slip away. We're going to approach every game like it's a playoff game becaues it's going to be tough. The Packers are a good football team as well. Every single game right now counts."

Some Bears appeared to forget that on the way to Ford Field but they are unlikely to make the same mistake again. A little check of NFL history will show them why.

Pittsburgh, Houston and Atlanta all missed the playoffs last year with 9-7 records. Cleveland missed in 2007 with a 10-6 mark. None other than the Patriots missed last season with an 11-5 record.

"There could possibly be a 10-6 team or 11-5 team that doesn't make the playoffs this year," Harris said. "We just have to take care of business and win our division and not worry about that. We don't want to be that team on the outside looking in."

Depth charging

Pisa Tinoisamoa underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday on his injured right knee, a procedure described as "minor" and at this point not something expected to land the veteran strong-side linebacker on injured reserve.

Rod Wilson, whose listed position is No. 2 middle linebacker, filled in well and is expected to start in Tinoisamoa's spot, which points to a subtle strength of the Bears' depth chart. The Bears also are without Nick Roach (hip) after he was injured against Detroit and was unable to finish the game.

Wilson and Brian Iwuh are standouts on special teams and they also can be quickly retrofitted to play multiple linebacker spots. Iwuh came off the bench to start against Seattle in place of injured Lance Briggs and calmly delivered 12 tackles, including 10 solos.

And speaking of linebackers ...

Brian Urlacher did not have 17 tackles against the Lions. Coaches' review of game tape put the final total at 19. Considering that the Lions only ran 53 plays total, that puts Urlacher intimately involved in nearly 36 percent of Detroit's snaps.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

A plethora of NFL quarterbacks are set to hit the open market in the next few weeks in Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum.

With at least nine in-demand signal-callers, the NFL could see a quarterback shakeup unparalleled in recent NFL history. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, there may be “more butts than seats.”

“In this looming game of quarterback musical chairs, I still don’t think we know whether when the music stops, there’s gonna be more butts than seats, or more seats than butts,” Florio said on NBC Sports’ PFT Live. “And there’s a chance that there’s gonna be a team that is left — because they wanted too long to have something lined up — they’re gonna be left looking around saying ‘Who the hell’s our quarterback for 2020?’”

Based on that list of quarterbacks, teams that could have a QB vacancy to fill this winter include the Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Chargers and Titans. There are nine quarterbacks on that list, though Mariota and Keenum may be viewed more as backups by prospective suitors. Therefore, you could have six teams in need of a quarterback and seven on the open market.

The former figure could increase if teams like the Bears or Raiders look to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency. In that case, perhaps there are more “chairs” than “butts” this offseason, meaning some teams may find themselves without a starting quarterback entering the NFL draft.

In that scenario, a team may be inclined to trade for a QB, such as Bengals’ Andy Dalton. How this chaotic situation plays out will determined in the coming weeks, but what’s already certain is this offseason’s free agency could be a frenzy.

“We’ve never had anything even close to this, by way of potential chaos for quarterbacks in free agency and really through the draft,” Florio said. “Who knows how it’s all gonna play out? There’s gonna be a major, major shakeup, potentially. It’s gonna be somewhere between nothing changes and complete and total chaos, but I think it’s gonna be closer to complete and total chaos.”