A quirk of the NFL schedule has the Bears playing the Vikings for the second time in three weeks. Does either team have an advantage?
For the Vikings, the 28-10 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field on Nov. 25 is fresh in their minds. Then again, Jared Allen's blindside hit on Lance Louis that caused Louis' season-ending knee injury is fresh on the minds of the Bears.
''I haven't been in this situation before. I really don't know,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ''I would say there's not an advantage or a disadvantage. Both teams are under the same conditions.
''We know each other well, anyway. Being a division opponent, I don't think it's going to matter an awful lot. I would like to be playing them again at Soldier Field. But since we have to go up there, I don't think it really does [make a difference].''
The team that lost the first game would seem most likely to have an advantage, especially when the second game at home, as the Vikings will be Sunday.
This is the second time this season teams have played twice in a three-week span. Last week, the Steelers beat the Ravens 23-20 in Baltimore -- two weeks after the Ravens beat the Steelers 13-10 in Pittsburgh.
The last time the Bears played an opponent twice in a three-week span was 2003. They beat the Lions 24-16 at home on Oct. 26 and lost at Detroit 12-10 on Nov. 9. That was Dick Jauron's last season as the Bears' head coach.
In 1998, the Bears lost to the Packers 26-20 at Green Bay on Dec. 13 and lost to the Packers 16-13 at Soldier Field on Dec. 27. Fittingly, those were Dave Wannstedt's final two losses as the Bears' head coach. Wanny was 1-11 against Green Bay. Though for the record, he's still the last Bears coach to win a playoff game on the road -- a 35-18 victory over the Vikings at the Metrodome on Jan. 1, 1995.
At the rate the Bears are going, Lovie Smith very likely will have a shot at matching Wannstedt's feat.