1) Will the division go to the winner of game 16 versus the Packers? Right now we have a one game lead. If that holds steady to game 16 and we lose, we fall back to the 2nd tiebreaker- division record. If we beat the Vikings and Lions that will be a tie as well. Then we fall back to common games, where I think we're tied again (in the division we have 12 common games, the only non-common ones are versus NFC South and versus NFC West, so we're both 6-2 in common games). Then we go to strength of victory, where I believe the Packers lead. So it seems to me unless we can pick up 1 more win in the next 4 than the Pack, we're heading to a winner take all last game.
A: Who knows, at this point. But, the Packers have made that final game mean something, since they did one thing the Bears have not: sweep the Vikings.
The Bears and Packers have one game remaining against the Lions. But the Bears play the Vikings on Monday Night Football Dec. 20.
If, by chance, both teams do finish with the same division record, then the next tie-breaker would be common opponents. Right now, the Bears are 6-2, and the Packers are 7-2. The advantage for the Bears is that they've beaten the Miami Dolphins, which beat the Packers. The advantage for the Packers is that they've beaten the New York Jets already. Both teams have a game remaining against the New England Patriots, although the Bears host them while the Packers visit them.
The Giants, meanwhile, head to Lambeau Field Dec. 26.
The point? It's a little early. So much can change. But take this to the bank: the Bears can't afford to lose Sunday.
2) I've seen coaches deliver team balls to players and give speeches on NFL Network, but I have never seen Coach Lovie Smith. Does he hand out game balls after games?
A: Yes, Smith does allow NFL cameras inside the locker room, when he addresses his team after games. And, yes, he does award game balls. But, unlike some coaches, he award them during the week, a few days after the game.
3) Why in the name of Buddah is Todd Collins the 2nd string QB?
A: Collins has far more experience, in many ways. Not only in actual NFL games but also in the Martz offense. He had a miserable performance against the Carolina Panthers, but he was still relatively new to the team, signing toward the end of August.
4) A lady named Katrina taught that we forget about the color paint on the bathroom walls when the roof has been blown off the house. That seems to fit the Bears offensive line. Now that they have a analogous dry place to sleep, is there remodeling still to do? For example, are they buying or renting Chris Williams at guard? Are youngsters like Lance Louis and Edwin Williams still in the mix for the future? Will O-line be an off season priority for Jerry Angelo?
A: They do see promise in those young players, but I'm sure the Bears will seriously consider adding another player to the mix. Overall, it's a relatively old unit, so they need an infusion of youth. The ones you mentioned certainly fit into the mix, but I'm not sure they see them all as starters of the future.
5) How close do you think we are to being the next "Over the Hill Gang", at least on our defense? And do you see that as an issue?
A: Who is over the hill? Yes, they've got some 30-year-old players, but most of them still appear to have several quality seasons left in them. Younger players like Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina and D.J. Moore have shown promise, but the Bears need to beef up the defensive pipeline, especially at cornerback.
Charles Tillman is looking like he's inching closer to a time when he'll need to play safety, since he's slowing down. The x factor is Zack Bowman, who was projected to be the cornerback of the future but got supplanted by an unheralded free agent (Tim Jennings).
6) I am season ticket holder and was curious to your thoughts and others if they felt the Eagles home game was one of the loudest Bears home games of all time? I brought my daughter for her first Bears game ever and the stadium was nearly shaking early on and maintained an electric atmosphere...the only other home game I can remember remotely close to that much noise was when the Bears played Saints in NFC Championship in 2006...your thoughts
A: Hard for Neil and I to answer: we were in the press box. So Neil asked Lance at the press conference on Thursday. Here's what he said: It was loud, very loud. That might have been one of the loudest I've heard Soldier Field. I'm just proud of the fans. Everyone was tuned in. Afterwards, I talked to my mom. There were a few drunk fights in the stands, you know. I told my mom, 'Typical. Real typical.' But that's good. That's what I expect at a Chicago game."
7) Given the success the Bears have had this year with their free agent acquisitions, do you think that they will be major players again next year?
Dee, North Carolina.
A: The Bears have some hard decisions to make, on a handful of veterans who have big contracts. We'll save that talk for another day - at a later time, of course. The Bears aren't among the teams that generally spend the most, and they try to be responsible with their money. And given their huge investment in Julius Peppers, I can't imagine the Bears doing that again next offseason. But, I'm sure they will try to round out their roster with a couple of veterans.
The focus, though, will be on their draft class, which, for the first time in a long time, will include first and second round picks.
8) Guys- How come Julius Pepper's didn't get (credited) for a sack on the play where he tripped up Vick?
A: If it's the play I'm thinking of, in the fourth quarter, it's because Vick actually gained a yard.