Bears

Separated at birth: Bill Belichick and Lovie Smith?

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Separated at birth: Bill Belichick and Lovie Smith?

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
5:39 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Fresh from his sold-out run at Zanies, the Bears coach paused from watching horror films starring Tom Brady just long enough Thursday to have fun with a question about similarities between himself and the New England Patriots head coach.

Just looking at me, you see quite a few, don't you? Smith said with a slight smile.

That Smith can manage humor in the days before going against the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL and a three-time Super Bowl champion coach may speak to both Smith's and his team's state of mind.

With Smith down in their pre-practice drills, defensive backs were delivering loud whoops every time one of their number intercepted a lollypop practice pass.

When the subject was brought up about his healthy competition with fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher for the team lead in tackles, Lance Briggs made sure to point out his two missed games with an ankle injury: You have to remember, since we're talking about a healthy competition: I've missed two games, two games, so for me that'll always be in the back of the mind, if people say, Lance, why didn't you have more tackles?

For his part, Urlacher ran through the requisite superlatives about Brady, then added a subtle reference to an embarrassing feint Brady put on him during the Patriots' 2006 win over the Bears. And he runs fast, too, Urlacher deadpanned, then laughed. I remember he's really fast. Good runner.

If the Bears were feeling any tension facing the Patriots, it has been nowhere to be found this week, perhaps a carryover from the collective mood after the Detroit game: It's starting to get fun for us, quarterback Jay Cutler said of his offense but might have been speaking for his entire team.

On the mend

Linebacker Nick Roach (hip) was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday but starter Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee), after dressing and going through some early drills, was not able to practice. The Bears have ruled neither player in or out for Sunday.

Running back Chester Taylor (knee) returned to practice but was also limited in certain sessions. The Bears were also without defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, excused from practice because of illness.

Brady continues to be limited in practice by shoulder and foot injuries and nose tackle Myron Pryor by back problems. Safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Brandon Spikes did not practice for non-football issues. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hip) also was out.

Bear weather?

The Bear weather mystique is a questionable asset for the home team. Frigid temperatures have been in no way a guarantee of success on the lakefront. Far from it.

The Bears are 8-4 in games with the wind chill at zero or below. They bagged their 1963 NFL championship in minus-3 conditions and they smacked around the New York Giants in the 1985 playoffs with wind chill at zero. (In case you're wondering, the following week was the 24-0 annihilation of the Los Angeles Rams in the snow, temperature at a balmy 39, wind chill 28).

But the Ditka Bears twice saw dream seasons die in the cold: against Washington after the 14-2 season of 1986, and against San Francisco in the 1988 NFC Championship game.

(Thanks to Bears media relations for some superb digging on the numbers.)

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.

Bears and Vikings have history of exciting matchups

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USA TODAY

Bears and Vikings have history of exciting matchups

The national spotlight will be on the Bears tonight as they host the Minnesota Vikings on NBC, and the primetime audience should be in for tightly contested matchup.

These two teams have a history of those.

Last year, Mitchell Trubisky made his first-career start in a similar situation under the lights at Soldier Field, but his late interception set the Vikings up with the game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left for a 20-17 victory.

The year before, Jay Cutler led the 1-6 Bears to a major upset over the 5-1 Vikings, also in primetime. It was Cutler’s first game back from injury, and he threw for 252 yards and a touchdown while Jordan Howard added 153 on the ground to win 20-10.

Back in December of 2013, Josh McCown threw for over 350 yards to lead Marc Trestman’s Bears to overtime against Matt Cassell and Minnesota. But Adrian Peterson’s 211 rushing yards proved to be too much as Blair Walsh hit the winning field goal in the extra period.

Chicago has had its share of game-winners against the Vikings too, like wide receiver Devin Aromashodu’s 39-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler back in 2009, one of his seven catches for 150 yards in the 36-30 overtime victory over Brett Favre.

The division rivals have met in the playoffs once in their 114 matchups, a 35-18 win for our own Dave Wannstedt. Steve Walsh connected with Jeff Graham for four catches and 108 yards to knock off Warren Moon and Cris Carter in the wildcard round.

This season’s Week 11 matchup could have its own playoff implications as the winner will sit in first place in the NFC North and take a potential head-to-head tiebreaker.

Bears-Vikings is most tightly contested game of Week 11

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USA TODAY

Bears-Vikings is most tightly contested game of Week 11

With so much parity in the NFL, every week on the schedule has close matchups. This weekend, though, the Bears and the Minnesota Vikings are expected to play the closest.

NFL experts trying to predict Sunday night’s matchup are torn on who they think is going to win, but Chicago has the slight advantage according to NFL Pick Watch.

55 percent of experts are picking the Bears to extend their NFC North lead, the closest margin of predictions for any game this week.

Even Monday night’s contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams has a larger majority supporting Jared Goff and company at 60 percent.

The analytics are also in agreement in support of Matt Nagy in prime time. Microsoft Cortana, FiveThirtyEight, Number Fire and Pro Football Focus analytics are all among the majority picking the Bears.

Our own J.J. Stankevitz predicts they could have statement game to establish themselves as a legitimate contender this season.

Chicago is favored by a slight margin on Las Vegas sportsbooks, but in the battle for first place in the division, anything can happen.