Last night, the New York Giants got about the worst news possible when the Philadelphia Eagles lost, likely rendering Sunday’s season finale at Lambeau Field meaningless for the Chicago Bears.
The Bears have secured a first-round bye, and by the time their game kicks off at 4:15 p.m., it’s likely the No. 1 seed will have been determined by the Atlanta Falcons or New Orleans Saints.
That doesn’t help the Giants, who need a win over the Washington Redskins coupled with a victory by the Bears to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed. But if you listen to Bears coach Lovie Smith, they’re putting a premium on the game. The Bears have a chance to become the first team to go undefeated in the NFC North/Central since they ran the table at 7-0 in the 1987 season that was shortened by one game.
Smith is pointing to the fact the Bears want to go into the postseason with some momentum and that they’ll have ample time to rest players as it is with the bye week.
“We know that we have a little bit of time next week and know there’ll be a couple weeks before we play. That’s why it’s important to yes, get some good work in good competition this week, we want to keep it going, we don’t want to take a step back, want to continue,” Smith said. “Even though we’ve played our best football here as of late, can’t say that we’ve peaked yet and there are still some areas that we have to improve on.
“If there’s someone that’s a little banged up, we’re not going to put him at risk then. (The players) want to play and they expected to play and again, the 16th game of the season for us and we’re trying to get a win. We had planned on playing them the entire time so nothing has changed. We get into the game, you get into every game when you see what’s going on during the course of the game, but for us we’re trying to win the football game, period.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune