We're Black and Blue All Over:
As we noted Tuesday night, the Chicago Bears clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs after the Minnesota Vikings' upset of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears are still in play for the No. 1 seed, but those hopes could evaporate before kickoff of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. The Atlanta Falcons could clinch that spot if they defeat the Carolina Panthers in a game to be played three hours earlier.
In that case, would the Bears pull back on their schemes and/or rest their starters, ostensibly making it easier for their top rivals to reach the playoffs? We'll find out Sunday, but here is what Bears safety Chris Harris tweeted in the minutes after Tuesday's game: "To make 1 thing clear just cause we got the 1st rd bye 2nite don't think we just plan on rolling over Sun against Green Bay #notgonnahappen"
Is it Sunday yet?
Continuing around the NFC North:
From a financial standpoint, Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times doesn't think the Bears need to extend coach Lovie Smith's contract after this season.
Bears returner Devin Hester might be "the most dangerous scoring threat" in the NFL, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears will face a much different Green Bay Packers team this Sunday, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
As Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com points out, the Packers now know they will be the No. 6 seed and play the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs -- if they get in.
The NFL chose New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees over Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the Pro Bowl, points out Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Brees has thrown twice as many interceptions this season as Rodgers.
Packers left tackle Chad Clifton and cornerback Charles Woodson did not have Pro Bowl seasons, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier said that quarterback Brett Favre (concussion) will start the Vikings' season finale if he is healthy, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com writes that Vikings quarterback Joe Webb showed signs that he "might be more than a sideshow in the Vikings' season-long circus."
Vikings defensive lineman Kevin Williams was convinced the Eagles didn't want to play in Sunday's snow and used it as extra motivation. Williams, via Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "We heard they really protested about playing on Sunday. That was extra motivation. Some of the players were saying it on the field: 'We didn't want to play in that crap.' They didn't want to play in the snow! It was extra motivation for us."
The Detroit Lions are hoping that receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) can play Sunday against the Vikings even though he is likely to miss some practice time, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Johnson's selection to the Pro Bowl was overdue, writes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com breaks down the key end-game plays of the Lions' victory over the Miami Dolphins.