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Blue: Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail. But if you're going to get nailed, isn't it better that this happens at the hand of the best team in the NFL instead of one of the perennial cellar dwellers - as happened to the Green Bay Packers against the Lions?
Additionally, though the Bears were embarrassed on national TV, at least the stadium didn't collapse as happened up in Minneapolis. The Patriots 'shocked and awed' the Bears into total disarray by the end of the first half of Sunday's 36-7 shaming, but there is much to find in the way of positives going into the final three games of the season:
* We lost the first half 33-0 but won the second half 7-3.
If Lovie is going to cram down our throats that a season is divided into winning or losing in different quarters of the season, why not score each game by halves? We lost the first half badly, but adjusted well and took the second half in a squeaker. This kind of momentum has to translate into a fast start eight days later.
*Jay Cutler might be Iron Man.
Though he has been sacked the most of any quarterback in the NFL, he is the only starting quarterback of all NFC North teams to definitely be starting in next weeks' games. An additional positive being that if Cutler is Iron Man, there is the possibility that Scarlett Johansson will play the role of his assistant as she did in IM2 and can take up the roster spot currently held by Todd Collins. Not only does this ease the pain of no Bears cheerleaders since 1985, but her arm rivals Collins'.
* The names Jeff Garcia, Daunte Culpepper and Patrick Ramsey are not being mentioned as possible leaders for this team through the stretch run to the end of the season.
Matt Flynn was terrible backing up Aaron Rodgers for the Packers after the latter suffered his second concussion of the season. Not only was Tavaris Jackson equally horrendous while taking the spot vacated by Brett Favre, but he has turf toe and might need to yield the starting job to Joe Webb. Then again, with how effective Brett Favre has been this year, the Bears might have a better chance against him versus an unknown.
* If the Bears take down the Vikings and the Packers lose to the Patriots this Sunday, the Bears clinch the NFC North.
I'm personally fine with the Bears falling backwards into the playoffs primarily through beating bad teams combined with injuries to their mates in the North.
* As of this writing the Metrodome is still a Danish with a hole, meaning that the game will be played outdoors at the University of Minnesota's stadium.
After showing their collective asses in supposed "Bear Weather" versus the Pats, these Bears have to come fired up to clinch over a division rival. Though they reside in a northerly climate, the Vikings practice and play indoors and if they do bring old and horny Favre back for whatever reason, he hates playing in the cold. Advantage Bears.
* Forte, Bennett, Knox.
Each has three years' experience or less and should continue to improve as this season goes on. Motivated by a playoff push through the final three games of the season, each should be bringing their A games to bear. Then again, this team was looking for legitimacy both in Chicago as well as across the NFL last weekend against the Patriots and we saw how that went.
If it seems as though I've basically skipped past the debacle against the Patriots, you're just reading what my brain did soon after Deion Branch sauntered into the end zone on the final play of the first half, moving on to the future. The Bears were terrible in that half, basically showing the wide gulf between what it takes to eek out a divisional title over teams like the Vikings, Packers and Lions and what it takes to be considered the best team in the NFL. We're not that team, at least not yet. The pain of Sunday has receded and barring a total collapse, we should be headed towards an NFC title and the playoffs.
Bears at Vikings
The Bears have everything to play for, the Vikings nothing. The Bears are healthy for the most part, the Vikings are not. While the Bears are looking forward to making an impact in a playoff run, the Vikings are looking at who might be their quarterback in 2011 and Patrick Ramsey is a possibility for Monday.
Bears 24, Vikings 3.
Orange: Have you ever met a mediocre musician at a party?
They go on and on about their inspirations, usually citing bands you've never heard of, give you a detailed rundown of their musical equipment and foist some poorly engineered tape/CD onto you, however brief your interaction with them may be.
Feeling generous, or maybe piteous, you listen to their work and it sounds alright, for what it is. Not really technically proficient or catchy music, but it's been executed to the point of recognizability.
Huh, you say to yourself. I guess it's kind of cool that they can do that. Not everybody can.
But the next day you go see a Fleetwood Mac/Public Enemy/Stone Temple Pilots concert (depending on the year you were about 16) and the crappy demo is flung from your driver's side window in disgust. The difference between a professional and an amateur is stark.
Never was the chasm between the two levels of aptitude more apparent than Sunday afternoon on the lakefront. The game featured a true contender who can win against any team in the league and an okay NFC team.
The way Thomas the Touchdown Engine and His Merciless Football Friends are playing, the New England Patriots might just be alone in the top echelon of the NFL.
There are plenty of statistical angles on New England's victory that could provide some insight as to specifically how they dismantled the Monsters of the Middle, but none are needed. Lord knows CBS analysts Phil Simms and Jim Nance don't need help heaping another wheelbarrow of bouquets in Tom Brady's direction.
The eye test offered more than enough proof that the Bears were just plain out-footballed.
Would it have helped if Chris Harris came up with that interception in the end zone on the first Patriot drive?
Could the Bears have snatched momentum if two of Jay Cutler's long rushes hadn't been called back by holding penalties?
Maybe. But these things would probably have just delayed the inevitable.
There's something to be said for a beating this absolute.
Is there any debate over whether Fred Astaire or Taco performs a more definitive version of "Puttin' on the Ritz?" Of course not.
Bears at Vikings
It snows heavily in Minnesota? Who knew!
All these years of hating the Vikings and we never gave them any crap for playing their home games in a moonwalk.
The loss to the Patriots only counts as one game, but the hangover effect from this demoralizing defeat will weigh on the Bears' heads like, well, 100 tons of snow.
With Brett Favre taking some time to rest his aching prostate (he should never have endorsed those Wrangler Taint-Blasters marketed to the emo crowd), the Vikings are sporting a quarterback tandem of Tavaris Jackson and Joe Webb*, depending on who has most recently injured their knee by colliding with Adrian Peterson.
Expect backup running back Toby Gerhart to have a big day on the 15 plays Peterson rests.
The Bears will have opportunities to score, but untimely picks and failed fourth-down conversions will cause them to stall out in Vikings territory at least three times.
Vikings 17, Bears 14.
*Fun fact: Joe Webb has already updated his Wikipedia page with his stat line from December 13th's game against the Giants.
Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.