The Bears get Sunday off while they prepare to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football at the ice rink known as TCF Bank Stadium. So what’s a Bears fan to do over the weekend? You could get that last minute Christmas shopping done. Nah! It’s not Christmas Eve yet! It’s no fun shopping when the pressure’s not on. You could spend time with family. Nope. You’ll get plenty of family time over Christmas. Put your Christmas lights up? Are you kidding?!?! If you haven’t put ‘em up yet, why bother now.
No, the best thing you can do on Sunday is park yourself in front of a TV and root for teams that will make the Bears’ road to the Super Bowl a little easier. Here’s who you should be rooting for this weekend in the crowded NFC Playoff picture.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) at New York Giants (9-4)
This is the second most important game that Bears fans need to monitor. It seems likely that both of these NFC East teams will qualify for the postseason, but Bears fans should definitely be rooting for Philadelphia since the Bears hold the tie-breaker over the Eagles. If the Bears can keep pace with the Eagles and finish with at least the same record, they could get a bye and watch the Wild Card Round from home before hosting a playoff game. E-A-G… I can’t go that far.
Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Bucs (8-5)
I’m not going to bother with the records of teams that don’t figure into the picture themselves, so I won’t bother looking up if Detroit has more than 3 wins. This game is all about Tampa. I haven’t looked deeply into the tie-breakers, but I’m rooting for Tampa in this one because I’d much rather have them sneak in as a Wild Card team over the vicious Giants, who have made a habit of knocking out opposing quarterbacks. I’d be much happier to see them sitting out the playoffs. The Bucs have a legit shot with 8 wins under their belts and with games against Detroit and Seattle left on the docket, that 10 wins is a very real possibility.
New Orleans Saints (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens
Any time you can leave Drew Brees and the defending champs on the sidelines for the postseason, that’s a good thing. Right now, the Saints lead the Wild Card race, so a loss could help knock them out and improve Tampa’s chances of getting into the postseason. I can’t believe I’ll be rooting for Ray Lewis, but that’s what it’s come to.
Atlanta Falcons (11-2) at Seattle Seahawks (6-7)
This matchup between two division leaders – and yes the NFC West is that bad! – should help Atlanta clinch a playoff berth. A 2-game lead over the Bears with 3 left to play seems like the road to Dallas will go through Atlanta, where Matt Ryan is like 18-1 at home. I think if you can bring Atlanta back to the pack a little bit, that would be a good thing. Besides, I’m playing against Michael Turner in my fantasy playoffs, so go Seahawks!
Green Bay Packers (8-5) at New England Patriots
After the Patriots snow-plowed the Bears last week, they seem pretty unstoppable. This week they host Green Bay at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football where they rarely lose, especially at this time of year. Add to that that Green Bay looks to be without the services of Aaron Rodgers and you’ve got the first domino to the Bears’ 2010 NFC North championship set to fall. Besides, don’t you always root against the Packers?