CHICAGO -- Good morning from Soldier Field. As you can see from this Instagram photograph it is cloudy, windy and mournful here as we await what could be one of the more significant games in recent NFC North history.
Flags around the country are at half-staff in remembrance of the Newtown, Conn., school tragedy. Although it is a cloudy day in downtown Chicago, temperatures are unseasonably mild -- it was 47 degrees at 10 a.m. ET -- and there is no rain in the forecast.
As we discussed all week, the Green Bay Packers can clinch the NFC North with a victory over the Chicago Bears. A loss by the Bears would be their fifth in six games and would raise the heat on coach Lovie Smith. Because the Bears finish the season with two consecutive road games, it would be fair to wonder whether Smith had coached his final game at Soldier Field.
Here's what ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on the topic Sunday morning:
When the Bears introduced Lovie Smith in 2004 as their next head coach, he said his first goal was to beat the Green Bay Packers. Recently, Smith's teams have struggled to do that. Heading into today's game against Green Bay, the Bears have lost four straight games to the Packers and are trying to avoid a fifth straight loss that would jeopardize their chances of advancing to the postseason.
Smith's overall record against the Packers is 8-9. Some in the Bears organization are uneasy over Smith's job security and recognize that another Chicago loss to the Packers could ultimately wind up costing Smith his job, according to one source. It's difficult to say any one game determines whether someone keeps or loses his job. But the significance of today's game against the Packers is not lost on many in and out of the Bears organization.
If the Bears lose Sunday, they would need help getting into the playoffs even if they win out and finish 10-6. There is much yet to be determined, but there is no doubt Sunday's game could prove a turning point in Smith's career in Chicago.