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News » Dirty half-dozen

Dirty half-dozen

Dirty half-dozen
Bears coach Lovie Smith would like to press the reset button after Sunday's ugly 37-3 loss at Green Bay. He looks at the next six games as a new season, with his Bears sitting 5-5 and in a three-way tie atop the NFC North. "And our Football team has a lot of character," Smith said. "That's why we feel good about this next stretch. You don't want games to happen like [Sunday's loss], but from time to time they do. You have to keep in mind that it only counts as one loss and you move on. But the team has a lot of character, and it will show."

The rest of the schedule appears to work in the Bears' favor. Their six opponents have a combined record of 27-36, and none is above .500. Here's a look at the remaining games:

St. Louis (2-8)

When: Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

Reason for optimism: The record speaks for itself, and the Rams will be without star running back Steven Jackson (thigh) and seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace (knee).

Cause for concern: Without Jackson, quarterback Marc Bulger will let it fly. He threw 53 passes against the 49ers last weekend, and we all know how poor the Bears' pass defense has been.

Subplot: It was foiled when Ricky Manning Jr. went on IR with a broken leg. You can bet he circled this game, considering how disgruntled Manning was when the Bears released him.

Inside the numbers: Rams free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe ranks third in the league with four interceptions.

\ Minnesota (5-5)

When: Nov. 30 at the Metrodome.

Reason for optimism: The game didn't get flexed from NBC's Sunday night schedule, which means the Bears still must be a draw. Or maybe it had more to do with Adrian Peterson.

Cause for concern: Kyle Orton is 0-2 in Minneapolis with a quarterback rating of 57.5.

Subplot: The Vikings could be without defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams. They have appealed four-game suspensions after testing positive for a weight-loss diuretic considered a masking agent for steroids.

Inside the numbers: Peterson leads the league in rushing with 1,100 yards and has 391 yards and seven touchdowns in three career games vs. the Bears.

\ Jacksonville (4-6)

When: Dec.7 at Soldier Field.

Reason for optimism: This is not the same Jaguars team from a year ago. Quarterback David Garrard is struggling to stay on his feet, having been sacked 26 times.

Cause for concern: Garrard is still a dangerous quarterback capable of beating you with his arm or his legs, and 6-foot-6-inch receiver Matt Jones won't be easy for the Bears' struggling secondary to cover.

Subplot: Jones received a three-game suspension last month for a drug bust. He appealed and has yet to sit out a game.

Inside the numbers: The Jaguars rank 23rd in the league in total offense (314.2 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring (21.2 points per game).

\ New Orleans (5-5)

When: Dec. 11 at Soldier Field.

Reason for optimism: The Bears have beaten the Saints three straight times, twice in a row at home.

Cause for concern: Drew Brees is completing 67 percent of his passes and averaging 316 yards per game to go with 18 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

Subplot: Remember when Reggie Bush taunted Brian Urlacher in the NFC championship game? Bush should be recovered from a knee injury for this game.

Inside the numbers: The Saints average a league-best 411.5 yards per game, almost 100 yards more than the Bears (314.6).

\ Green Bay (5-5)

When: Dec. 22 at Soldier Field.

Reason for optimism: The Bears walloped the Packers 35-7 at Soldier Field last season with Brett Favre running the show.

Cause for concern: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked the Bears apart Sunday at Lambeau Field despite a sore shoulder.

Subplot: The sting from that 37-3 loss should resonate throughout the Bears' locker room.

Inside the numbers: Although Lovie Smith is 4-1 at Lambeau Field, he is 2-2 at home against the Packers.

\ Houston (3-7)

When: Dec. 28 at Reliant Stadium.

Reason for optimism: QB Matt Schaub could be done with a left knee injury. Backup Sage Rosenfels doesn't exactly strike fear in opponents.

Cause for concern: It's the last game of the season, and if the Bears are still in playoff contention, the Texans would love to play spoiler.

Subplot: This could be an intriguing battle of rookie running backs: Matt Forte and Houston's Steve Slaton. Both ran for more than 120 yards in games against the Colts.

Inside the numbers: Receiver Andre Johnson leads the league with 955 receiving yards on 71 catches. Baring injury, he will surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the third time in six seasons.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 19, 2008

Adam Carriker Name: Adam Carriker
Position: NT
Age: 24
Experience: 2 years
College: Nebraska
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