After Sunday's debacle against the Patriots, I didn't feel compelled to write a review of that game. What can one say? The Pats were better in every phase of the game (offense, defense, special teams, coaching, equipment preparation, catering, post-game new conference, grooming, and holiday spirit). Some of those are just conjecture, but I'm pretty sure Tom Brady is the kind of guy everyone wants at their Christmas party due to his affable nature, sexy wife, and general saintliness. Jay Cutler seems like he'd be the mean drunk in the corner in dark glasses and a black turtleneck sweater making fun of his co-workers kids. Anyway, I just couldn't find much to write about. The game didn't really change my opinion of the Bears, but it did make me realize how much better the Pats are right now than everybody else. I'd love to see the Bears get on a magical, Arizona Cardinals-type run and shock the world by making it to the Big Dance. But, I'm pretty sure they'd have Brady and Belichick to deal with. Yikes. Maybe the Bears could learn from this loss, make the necessary adjustments, and upset New England in the Super Bowl??? Whoa. Someone really spiked this holiday nogg...
None of this talk about the playoffs matters much if the Bears fail to get there. The way things look now, that almost seems inevitable. They only have to win one of their next two games along with a Packers loss. With Aaron Rodgers' availability questionable this week against the aforementioned Patriots (at New England) and a game against the somewhat dangerous Giants, one Packers loss seems likely. In fact, if the Bears DON'T make the playoffs, it will be a collapse of epic proportions. Even Ted Phillips couldn't justify keeping Lovie and Jerry if that happened, right? Right? RIGHT?
So, where the hell is the game going to be played on Monday night? I've been trying to follow this pretty closely because I find it wildly entertaining. The Vikings are literally a ship lost at sea. They have no home. The Metrodome is unusable due to the roof collapse (on a side note, I was in Minneapolis on Tuesday and it was crazy to drive by the dome and see it deflated, much like the Vikings fans hopes this year!). The NFL has supposedly given approval to use TCF stadium on the U of M campus, but there are huge problems with that idea. First of all, the field turf is frozen and there is no heating element under the field. There is two feet of snow on the ground and in the stands (with a few more inches falling today), and the water has been shut off since November. Plus, the concourses and bathrooms are relatively open since games were not designed to be played in December. As if that wasn't enough, there are no beer taps in the entire stadium because it's on a college campus. How can Vikings fans expect to enjoy this team sober? As a native Minnesotan and current Wisconsinite, I can say the following with expertise...drinking in general is a way of life in these parts--but it's a close second to breathing during football games.
I recently watched an episode from the first season of Friday Night Lights where coach Eric Taylor decided to use a cow pasture to play their playoff game when their stadium had become unusable. Has anyone considered this??? There are tons of cow pastures and unused farmland just outside of the Twin Cities! Ok, that's not a real solution. But, it sure is a fun thought to imagine millionaire athletes running around like kids again on a big, open snow-covered field.
As for the game, the location doesn't really matter that much. Tavaris Jackson has been put on IR, Brett Favre still doesn't have much feeling in his hand, and Joe Webb (who?) has a bad hamstring. In fact, the Vikings just signed Patrick Ramsey. He might actually get the start on Sunday. If the Bears can't beat a just signed Patrick Ramsey or a severely hobbled Brett Favre or some unknown kid with a slew of physical abilities but no experience, then they have no reason to play in the postseason. The defense needs to show up with as much determination as they had against the Eagles. They need to shut down Adrian Peterson, and force whoever is playing QB to beat them. This should happen.
On offense, Jay Cutler and company need to play with some swagger. They looked tentative, cold, and scared against the Patriots. That game is long over. Time to get back to doing what has worked since the bye week--running the ball and converting third downs. The offensive line needs to find a way to slow rushers off the edge. Hopefully Mike Tice can continue to keep fresh bandages on this gaping wound.
If this game is played in Indy, Detroit, or St. Louis, it'll be basically a home game for the Bears. Even if it's played in Atlanta, I have a hard time believing Vikings fans could come close to out numbering Bears fans down there. Any of those stadiums give the Bears an edge due to their team speed. The Metrodome nullifies that with its raucous home crowd. But, as I said, that won't be an issue on Monday night. If the game is outdoors at TCF stadium, I think it will level the playing field a little bit. The Bears, though, are the more talented, hungry team that should be playing for the division that night. Regardless of location, the Bears will win this game. Right? RIGHT?
Bears 20, Vikings 9