Goal to Go: Inside the Bears-Jaguars

With both sides needing a victory to maintain a shot at the playoffs, could Jacksonville actually be looking past the Bears?

Chad Hutchinson, Bears quarterback
Hutchinson gave the Bears hope last week with his three TD performance against the Vikings. But he's still 3-7 as a starter in the NFL and has plenty still to prove. He'll face a bigger test against a better secondary -- on the road.

Donovin Darius, Jaguars strong safety
This tough, physical safety has led Jacksonville's secondary in tackles in each of his six NFL seasons. Darius has the second most tackles in Jags' history, to go with 10 career picks.

Another key matchup
Fred Taylor, Jaguars running back

The veteran running back is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. For the Jags to be successful, Taylor has to keep the Bears defense honest, so Byron Leftwich (2,394 passing yards) can do his thing through the air.

Brian Urlacher, Bears linebacker
Everybody saw last week what Urlacher means to the Bears. The franchise didn't look like a guy who missed two games after leg surgery. The heart and soul of the defense needs to cause some havoc if the Bears are going to thrive.

Injury report
BEARS: PROBABLE: G Steve Edwards (hamstring); CB Todd McMillon (hamstring); G Rex Tucker (hamstring). QUESTIONABLE: TE Desmond Clark (ribs/shoulder); FB Bryan Johnson (foot). DOUBTFUL: T John Tait (knee). OUT: QB Craig Krenzel (ankle)

JAGUARS: PROBABLE: G Chris Naeole (calf); WR Jimmy Smith (hand); DT Marcus Stroud (knee). QUESTIONABLE: S Deon Grant (knee); TE George Wrighster (back).

Desperate times call for…
The offensive line has been hit so hard by injury that the Bears had to elevate Bryan Anderson from the practice squad.

The seventh-round draft pick from 2003 has bounced back and forth from the practice squad and being on the street, but with Edwards and Tucker not completely healthy the team needs the depth.

Playoff potential? Chicago's win against Minnesota last week kept its hopes alive of becoming just the third team to qualify for the postseason after starting the year 4-7 since the NFL expanded to the current 12-team playoff format in 1990. Only the 1995 Detroit Lions and 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars have advanced to the postseason after winning just four of their first 11 games.

How wide open is the NFC? Only the Philadelphia Eagles have clinched a playoff spot.

Looking Ahead
In the Jaguars eyes today's game amounts to a little game so they can play a big game the following Sunday.

They're favored by 7 points over the Bears.

But they're much better as an underdog. They were favored against Tennessee two weeks ago and lost. They were favored in San Diego and were beaten earlier in the season. They also have to worry about a letdown after an emotional game against Pittsburgh.

If the Jaguars win, they'll then go to Green Bay on Dec. 19. If they can upset Green Bay, they'd still be in the playoff race because they close with a home game against Houston and a game at Oakland. They'll probably make the playoffs if they win their final four games, but they haven't won four in a row since 2000 and they've lost three in a row and six of their last nine.

So they can't afford to overlook the Bears this week.

The series
The Bears have won two of three previous meetings with the Jaguars since Jacksonville joined the NFL in 1995.

Last time
The Bears clinched their first division title since 1990 with a 33-13 victory over Jacksonville on Jan. 6, 2002 at Soldier Field. Chicago scored the first 20 points of the game as the Bears offense and defense dominated the Jaguars. Bears running back Anthony Thomas rushed for 160 yards, while the defense intercepted three passes and recorded four sacks .

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