SportsNation Blog Archives Chicago Bears
Lovie Smith thinks Matt Forte will be back this season for the Bears, despite a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee that usually takes two to six weeks to heal. But even if Forte hits the short end of that timetable, should he play? The 25-year-old runner is without a contract beyond this season, mostly because the Bears didn't want to give him the same kind of deal fellow backs like Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson received.
What should Matt Forte do?
The NFC wild-card race is still wide open, even for a team starting Caleb Hanie at quarterback. Should that influence Forte's rehab plans?
Should the Bears open the wallet?
The Bears have already said they will use the franchise tag if a new deal can't be reached, but is that the right call?
Would you hold a holdout against Forte?
The franchise tag would likely be worth at least $7 million for 2012, but running backs don't always have a lot of prime earning years.
Who comes out looking worst?
Chris Johnson refused to show up. DeSean Jackson showed up but faces questions about commitment. And Jerry Angelo (above) gave nothing to a guy who gave his health to the team.
We should be debating Jay Cutler's place among the NFL's elite quarterbacks Monday morning, but instead we're talking about his place alongside Matt Schaub on the shelf. Cutler will reportedly miss the remainder of the regular season with a thumb injury sustained while throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-20 win against the Chargers to lift the Bears to 7-3. Are the Bears still playoff material with Caleb Hanie?
Which contender is in more trouble?
Schaub ranks ahead of Cutler in passer rating, yards and touchdowns, but the team now facing life without Schaub plays in the AFC South.
The most painful loss of all?
Cutler ranks 12th in the NFL in passer rating, but is he the most valuable piece of the puzzle for the resurgent Bears?
Is Caleb Hanie the man for the job?
No. 2 quarterback Caleb Hanie has thrown all of 14 passes in the NFL in the regular season, but he held his own in the NFC title game last season.
Had Cutler earned elite status?
The season began with people questioning Cutler's toughness, but in leading the team's charge in recent weeks, had he earned a different label?
What does the crystal ball show?
We can understand if nobody wants to play Tim Tebow at the moment, but things could be worse for the Bears than facing the AFC West.
The first game of the NFL season kicks off in a little more than 24 hours, and we'd be lying if we said we weren't at least a little excited. Pro football can be a messy affair at times -- see the entire labor battle during the offseason -- but it's a glorious sport at its heart. Most every team's fan base has something to look forward to this weekend, although Colts fans may be dreading a future without Peyton Manning after the news that he'll miss at least his first game with a neck injury.
There are a lot of good matchups in Week 1 of the NFL's 2011 regular season. Steelers-Ravens, for example, could be a preview of a future AFC playoff game.
Colts without Manning?
Peyton Manning is out for an undetermined amount of time. This could be a prime opportunity for other teams to break Indianapolis' stranglehold on the AFC South.
The Patriots responded to their 14-2 record last season by signing or trading for several marquee names. Are they good enough to beat the Jets?
The Steelers fell just short of winning the Super Bowl last season, as their vaunted defense wasn't able to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Peyton Manning took a pay cut in order for the Colts to keep some of their key players, but is it enough for Indianapolis to win the AFC South?
There's a brewing quarterback controversy in Denver, with Kyle Orton delaying the seemingly inevitable succession of Tim Tebow to the starting job. Can the Broncos compete with Orton?
The Eagles made a number of humongous moves this offseason, including trading Kevin Kolb and signing Nnamdi Asomugha. Are they the team to beat in the NFC East?
Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on an incredible run to a Super Bowl title last year. Are they the favorites in the NFC North once again?
The Saints looked to make another deep run at a Super Bowl, but were stunned by the lowly Seahawks. Are they still an elite team?
Speaking of the Seahawks, they won the NFC West despite a 7-9 record. Will they sneak into the playoffs once more?
We can understand if you don't want to take the time to grade your tech-support help on the other end of the telephone, but when we're talking about the dollars and emotion you've invested in sports, we think it's worth the effort. It's time for ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings, in which SportsNation grades organizations on everything from ticket prices and stadium experience to the talent on the field, court or rink. Which team will end up on top this year? It depends on what you say.
Take part in the 2011 MLB survey
2010 MLB Ultimate Standings
1. Los Angeles Angels (Overall: No. 3)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (Overall: No. 6)
3. Colorado Rockies (Overall: No. 13)
4. Minnesota Twins (Overall: No. 14)
5. Atlanta Braves (Overall: No. 15)
Take part in the 2011 NFL survey
2010 NFL Ultimate Standings
1. New Orleans Saints (Overall: No. 1)
2. Indianapolis Colts (Overall: No. 4)
3. Green Bay Packers (Overall: No. 9)
4. Arizona Cardinals (Overall: No. 19)
5. Baltimore Ravens (Overall: No. 20)
Take part in the 2011 NBA survey
2010 NBA Ultimate Standings
1. Orlando Magic (Overall: No. 2)
2. San Antonio Spurs (Overall: No. 7)
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (Overall: No. 10)
4. Dallas Mavericks (Overall: No. 24)
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (Overall: No. 25)
Take part in the 2011 NHL survey
2010 NHL Ultimate Standings
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (Overall: No. 5)
2. Detroit Red Wings (Overall: No. 8)
3. Washington Capitals (Overall: No. 11)
4. San Jose Sharks (Overall: No. 12)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (Overall: No. 16)
It's safe to assume most Bears fans didn't wake up Sunday morning thinking Caleb Hanie would hold their quality of life for the next few weeks in his hands that afternoon against the Packers. It might be safe to assume a decent percentage of Bears fans woke up Sunday unaware there was a guy named "Caleb" on the roster.
But when Jay Cutler left with a knee injury in the third quarter (and Todd Collins bombed in a brief appearance), Hanie took the field and a lot of notable football folks took to Twitter to question the nature of Cutler's exit.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher stuck up for Cutler after the game, and an MRI may give the quarterback all the proof he needs to fend off charges of quitting. But would quitting under the pressure of the moment be a bigger sports sin than quitting because you didn't get a play called, as Scottie Pippen demonstrated in another memorable Chicago moment?
Which is the best Packers unit?
The Packers have really been turning it on in the past four games. Aaron Rodgers is on fire, and the defense is shutting down opponents.
Will Soldier Field be a factor?
Soldier Field is a cold and unforgiving place for opponents, but the Packers are more than used to frozen tundra.
Which is the biggest question mark?
Jay Cutler is talented but has a tendency to throw untimely interceptions. The Packers ranked 24th in total rushing offense this season.
Which team has the coaching edge?
Mike McCarthy and Lovie Smith have taken a lot of heat before, but it's tough to argue with their overall results.
Which quarterback do you trust?
Matt Hasselbeck had a lower QB rating this season than Chad Henne, but he outplayed Drew Brees last week. Are you taking him over Jay Cutler?
Are you buying Marshawn Lynch?
Lots of running backs move the pile; Marshawn Lynch moved the ground with a memorable run last week. But is he the best RB in this game?
Should Seahawks kick to Devin Hester?
Pete Carroll says he has no choice but to kick the ball to Devin Hester, who returned a punt for a TD when the teams met earlier this season.
Is the clock a home-field advantage?
Many people will tell you that the safest bet in football is going against a West Coast team playing at 1 p.m. ET. Will the early start hurt Seattle?
Ignore for a second that the Seahawks have zero Pro Bowlers. Cast aside their regular-season record of 7-9. Overlook the fact that their uniforms are honestly a little ugly. On Saturday, they beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints and advanced to the next round of the playoffs.
We're not going to call this the greatest upset of all time, but it's got to be in the conversation. It definitely had one of the greatest runs of all time, as Marshawn Lynch delivered a 67-yard run that left Saints defenders cast about like bowling pins. We saw one YouTube dub that compared Lynch's run to acquiring an invincibility star in Super Mario Brothers. In a coming weekend that features two big-time rivalry matchups (Jets-Patriots, Ravens-Steelers) and one exciting contest of young teams (Packers-Falcons), it seems like Seahawks-Bears actually has a good chance to provide the most excitement.