After that roller coaster of a game they had to endure against the Cowboys at home, I think it's a distinct possibility that the Seahawks are a little flat against the Bears. Let's face it, if Tony Romo gets that hold down like he's done a thousand times in the past, chances are Seattle loses that game 23-21. There has been some silly 'team of destiny' talk in the Emerald City this past week, but that's Madame Cleo stuff. Seattle had to play their guts out and endure a few more injuries, but the Bears took the week off and should be refreshed. That's the most important factor, plus Mike Holmgren's club has been bad on the road this year.
How is Jason McKie? Haven't heard much about him in the last few weeks. I know he was injured, but I think he could and would be a huge part of any Bears victory against Seattle. - ColdGin73
According to the injury report, McKie is still listed as questionable for this Sunday's playoff matchup with the Seahawks. If he can't go, rookie J.D. Runnels would likely get the start but expect to see plenty of tight end Gabe Reid in the backfield once again. McKie has been participating in the majority of drills at practice this week, which is certainly a good sign. I also believe that he could be a complementary part of the offense this weekend because he's turned himself into a pretty good receiver. On the other hand, he's still just an average blocker and could probably take some pointers from his counterpart in this game, Seattle's Mack Strong.
What will the Bears do after they win the Super Bowl? Will the team stay on Earth, or will they do what the Steelers did this season? - WrightBrothers
I'm sure Bears fans would like to find out how the team handles next season after winning Super Bowl XLI, and I imagine just about any result would be acceptable so long as they get the job done this year. The Steelers and Seahawks have reversed roles in terms of what has been happening with the previous seasons' Super Bowl participants. Usually the winner has a solid follow-up year, but the loser tends to underperform considerably and miss the playoffs. If the Bears are fortunate enough to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, I believe they will be in very good shape to make another run in 2007. The defense is still incredibly young - with or without Lance Briggs - and the offense should be even better, although the schedule appears to be considerably tougher.
Even if the Bears are down 10 points going into the fourth quarter, Turner needs to stick to the run. Do you agree? - Rich (Granby, MA)
The run game is obviously the strength of the offense right now because Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson seem to be running better than ever. But if the Bears are trailing by double figures heading into the fourth quarter, it will be hard for Ron Turner to keep pounding the rock. Running the ball also eats the clock, so any drive that does not come away with points could be catastrophic. Even if Grossman digs himself an early hole, the irony here is that he's the quarterback most equipped to direct a comeback since he's the one with the big arm. Down 10 points late in the game isn't conducive to 12-play, 70-yard drives that take six minutes off the ticker.
What's the difference between being in the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro? Are they the same thing or different? - Michael (Batavia, IL)
There are subtle differences between the two honors, as All-Pro is a little more exclusive and harder to get than a Pro Bowl berth. To make the Pro Bowl is essentially the same as making the All-Star team in baseball. Pro-Bowlers will make the trip to Hawaii and play in the Pro Bowl a week after the Super Bowl. The All-Pro squad is voted on by the Associated Press and, for lack of a better way of describing it, assembles the single-best NFL team. The Bears had seven players make the Pro Bowl - Olin Kreutz on offense, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Tommie Harris on defense, and then Robbie Gould, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Devin Hester on special teams - but only four were All-Pros - Kreutz, Urlacher, Gould, and Hester.
Did any of the wild card games from this past weekend surprise you? All four home teams won, so I guess they went true to form. - Lucky (Baton Rouge, LA)
I predicted three of the four games in the wild card round. The only one I got wrong was the Seattle-Dallas contest because I figured Romo and the Cowboys would throw all over that bruised and battered secondary the Seahawks pieced together, but that was not the case. A lot of experts figured the Chiefs would roll into Indy and have a field day with Larry Johnson, but I had too much faith in Peyton Manning in the first round. There was no chance the Giants were going to upset Philly with the way those teams finished the season, but they did make a game of it. And in my eyes, Tom Brady and the Patriots were a shoe-in over the Jets because Eric Mangini isn't good enough yet to pull that same rabbit out of his hat a second time.
Is it me, or does Seattle have a huge advantage in the coaching department? Hasn't Mike Holmgren been to three Super Bowls? - Allen (Hoffman Estates, IL)
Holmgren directed the Packers to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in `96 and `97, emerging victorious in his first trip. Then he took Seattle to Super Bowl XL in Detroit just last season. Lovie Smith has done a wonderful job with the Bears and was the NFL Coach of the Year in 2005, but he is still yet to notch his first playoff win. I don't think this is a serious mismatch in the coaching department, but Holmgren did sound awfully cool and calm during his conference call with the Chicago media on Wednesday. Smith, on the other hand, seems to be a little bit agitated from answering the same questions for an extra week and just wants to get the game underway.
Do any of the guys on the practice squad stand a chance to become good NFL players? I know Dwayne Slay was a bit-time hitter in college. - Hoody (Texarcana, TX)
It's hard to tell after training camp if any of the practice squad guys are performing well because the media is not permitted to watch drills once the season starts. One thing you can usually tell is where teams believe they are deficient because those are the positions that have practice-squaders. The Bears have two young offensive linemen - Mark LeVoir and Tyler Reed - in the fold partially because starters like Ruben Brown and Fred Miller are reaching the ends of their careers. Chicago also has two wide receivers on the practice squad - Mike Hass and Brandon Rideau - because Grossman could always use another weapon on offense. Slay was a safety in college but looks to be a linebacker in the pros, and he still has to put on some size if he wants to make a permanent roster at that position.
Which player do you feel is the key to the Bears beating the Seahawks on Sunday? Aside from the obvious answer, Rex Grossman. - Chuckie (Dublin, OH)
You're right, it's way to easy to say Grossman because quarterback play is always crucial and he's shown that he can single-handedly lose a football game. That being said, my money is on Charles Tillman. He should have been a Pro-Bowler in my opinion, and the secondary was in shambles when he was out of action with back spasms those last two games. I know Nathan Vasher also missed some time and forced nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. into the starting lineup, but he should be 100% recovered from his hamstring injury and at full strength. If Tillman's back starts to act up again, losing him would put the entire defensive backfield in a quandary and make life much easier for Matt Hasselbeck.
Level with us. Do you really care if the Bears make the Super Bowl or not? - Barry (Antioch, IL)
No question about it, my life would be a lot easier if the Bears are eliminated in the playoffs and don't advance to Super Bowl XLI. Now I have covered the Super Bowl for various publications in the past and had a heckuva good time split between work and play, but that was before I was covering an NFL team exclusively. If you talk to sports writers at newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, they'll all tell you off the record that they want to go to the Super Bowl, but they would prefer it if the Bears didn't. They can actually enjoy themselves if the Bears aren't there and will only have to write one story per day, but they'll have to attend every single press conference and crank out three or four stories per day if the Bears are there. It would be a logistical nightmare with all the travel plans I'll have to make at the last minute, but considering the extra exposure I'd receive and the nice spike I'll probably get in subscriptions, I'd love to see them make it to Miami.
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