NFL Insider

NFL INSIDER: Bears hope to sort things out in NFC

2013-12-19T19:45:00Z 2013-12-19T20:34:11Z NFL INSIDER: Bears hope to sort things out in NFCMatt Erickson NFL Insider
December 19, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

After 14 games, you'd think a little bit more would be decided in the NFL.

But here we are, with two weeks to play, and really very little is figured out – especially in the NFC.

Think about this for a second: There's a crazy scenario in which the Bears, who play Sunday night at Philadelphia, might be playing for nothing, at least in terms of whether they can change their potential playoff positioning. If the Lions lose and the Packers win, the Bears still have to beat the Packers in Week 17 to clinch.

Of course, a Lions loss and a Packers loss, and the Bears clinch the NFC North with a win. So in that scenario, there's much to play for. But if they get in, they know they'll be playing on opening weekend of the playoffs no matter what.

And, of course, it appears that it will be Jay Cutler leading the charger to get them there. Cutler had some nice moments in his return last week, but he had some awfully not-so-nice moments, as well. Let's just say that what he did to make up for his transgressions probably still has him on Santa's bad list. But he can find his way off it if he shakes off the dust against Philly on Sunday – in an environment that always is hostile, and should be no different this week with the Eagles needing a win to stay ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East.

I think the Bears can get it done on the road. The Eagles haven't played particularly well at home this year, and they're coming off a poor outing against a subpar Vikings team that was without its start player. If Matt Cassel can throw for nearly 400 yards against the Eagles, Cutler could have a big day with Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall.

COLTS (9-5) +6.5 (45) at Kansas City (11-3)

MattE's pick: Chiefs 31, Colts 23

Miami (8-6) -3 (43) at Buffalo (5-9)

MattE's pick: Dolphins 27, Bills 20

New Orleans (10-4) +3 (46) at Carolina (10-4)

MattE's pick: Saints 34, Panthers 24

Dallas (7-7) -3 (53) at Washington (3-11)

MattE's pick: Cowboys 28, Redskins 23

Tampa Bay (4-10) +4.5 (43) at St. Louis (6-8)

MattE's pick: Rams 23, Bucs 17

Cleveland (4-10) +2.5 (40.5) at N.Y. Jets (6-8)

MattE's pick: Jets 26, Browns 13

Minnesota (4-9-1) +7.5 (47.5) at Cincinnati (9-5)

MattE's pick: Bengals 34, Vikings 27

Denver (11-3) -10.5 (53) at Houston (2-12)

MattE's pick: Broncos 37, Texans 17

Tennessee (5-9) -5.5 (44) at Jacksonville (4-10)

MattE's pick: Titans 26, Jaguars 20

Arizona (9-5) +10.5 (44) at Seattle (12-2)

MattE's pick: Seahawks 31, Cardinals 20

N.Y. Giants (5-9) -9 (48.5) at Detroit (7-7)

MattE's pick: Lions 29, Giants 23

Oakland (4-10) +10 (50.5) at San Diego (7-7)

MattE's pick: Chargers 30, Raiders 17

Pittsburgh (6-8) NL at Green Bay (7-6-1)

MattE's pick: Packers 27, Steelers 23

New England (10-4) +2.5 (45) at Baltimore (8-6)

MattE's pick: Patriots 27, Ravens 20

BEARS (8-6) +3 (56) at Philadelphia (8-6)

MattE's pick: Bears 31, Eagles 27

Atlanta (4-10) +13 (46) at San Francisco (10-4)

MattE's pick: 49ers 27, Falcons 13

Last week: 8-8 straight up, 11-5 against the spread. Season: 141-82-1 (.632) straight up, 115-99-10 (.537) against the spread

Matt Erickson is an award-winning journalist whose NFL picks have appeared in The Times for 12 seasons. He covers mixed martial arts for The Times and is assistant MMA editor for USA Today and

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