Itís the topic of much debate around the league this week; sit the starters or let the kids play.
The Bears have earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs and have locked up a second seed. There is still a slight chance the Bears could land the number one seed. To do this, they would have to win at Green Bay and teach pigs how to fly.
So which is it? Lovie has proclaimed that his goal is to always beat the Packers due to growing up despising the Packers and everything they represent. OK, I made that last part up. But this is a heated rivalry still, right? If the Bears beat the Pack, the Packers are out of the playoffs. What can be more exciting as a Bear fan than knowing that the cheese eaters up north are crying in their beers while the Bears claw their way through the playoffs?
Yeah, but come on. Is it worth losing Cutler to a dirty ďCharles MartinĒ type play? What if Urlacher runs into Briggs and they both get concussions? The Bears have had a golden horseshoe up their rear ends all year when it comes to injuries. Either that or Rusty Jones has been focusing more on the training room rather than his fantastic rust proofing products, all of which I celebrate. Bottom line, is it worth the risk? Is now a time to be cautious in an almost meaningless game from a playoff perspective?
What about momentum? Iíve been around sports as long as I have owned a couch and a television, and I know one thing is a given: the hottest teams going into the playoffs are the ones to fear. Despite the bed they soiled against the Patriots, the Bears have been pretty hot after their Week 8 bye. Theyíve put up 78 points in the last two games, missing 81 point mark by an uncharacteristic Gould missed field goal last week against the Jets. The Bears are hot, no doubt, but how important is that momentum moving into the playoffs?
Todayís game is different from the game of years ago. Free agency has definitely bitten into the significance of rivalries. That being said, I say start every last one of our troops, Lovie Fresh. I canít let go of the storied history of the NFLís best and longest rivalry, and I never will. If rivalries are dead, then itís time for the second coming. Raise the offering.
Am I homer, chugging the cool aid (spiked), and thinking with my heart? Absolutely. But itís more than just emotion. Beating the Packers may actually have some significance from a strategy standpoint. Bears fans everywhere donít want to lose to the Packers in the playoffs. Iím not saying it will happen, but it could. Also, I need the offensive line to play another game. They are showing signs of improvement but there is room for much more. Giving our starters two weeks off is too long when you have a team showing this much promise. Let Ďem go, let Ďem grow.
Iíll end on this: I donít want our starters on the field in these two scenarios: We are getting our butts kicked by halftime or we are hammering the Packers at halftime. If itís close going into the second half, then bury that cheese and let it rot during the playoffs. It would be one more piece of ammo for my arsenal, in my infinite verbal assault on Packers fans.