As the Chicago Bears embark on the last four games of their season they will have to do so without their star defensive players Brian Urlacher who is out with a hamstring pull. It was confirmed yesterday that Urlacher will be out for the rest of the regular season but should be back for the playoffs if the Bears make it.
The defensive signal caller and heart and soul of the defense couldn't finish Sunday's game against the Seahawks. After Sunday's gut wrenching loss to the Seahawks, the Bears find themselves in a tie for first place with the Packers. However, by virtue of the Packers win over the Bears in Week 2, the Packers hold the tiebreaker.
Sunday's game against the 6-6 Vikings is of utmost importance as the Bears can't afford to fall a game against the Packers with three games to play. Injuries are starting to take a toll on the Bears and they looked worn down in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Seahawks.
Starting cornerback Tim Jennings seperated his shoulder and most likely will miss the game in Minnesota. That is another big blow for a Bears team that also lost guard Lance Louis for the year. The Jennings loss is critical since he leads the NFL in interceptions and is their best cover corner.
The Bears face a huge task Sunday in containing NFL's leading rusher Adrian Peterson who rushed for 210 yards in a loss to Green Bay on Sunday. They did a great job limiting him in Chicago, but he is a different player at home on astroturf. If the Bears can contain him they have a great chance of getting a victory in the Metrodome, the last time the Bears will play there. Christian Ponder has struggled the second half of the season, and he threw two interceptions deep in Green bay territory that would have given the Vikings the lead. Game-breaker Percy Harvin is likely to miss the game, so that negates a big play threat.
Veteran linebacker Nick Roach is expected to fill in for Urlacher as the starter and the team just signed second year player Dom DeCicco to a two-year deal. Geno Hayes, another veteran linebacker brought in from Tampa Bay will also see significant playing time. The moves gives them some much needed experience as DeCicco appeared in all 16 games with the Bears last year. The Bears are 7-15 without Urlacher since 2000 and will miss his leadership on the field. His 88 tackles leads the team and he also has an interception return for a touchdown. He also has three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries for the NFL's leading takeaway team.
Fortunately for the Bears, they only play one more team with a winning record and travel to sputtering Arizona and the underachieving Detroit Lions. The Bears should be in good shape to make the playoffs splitting their last four games but they would most likely need to beat the Packers to win the division. They are also facing an injury crisis too as top defensive players Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews are still out and Jordy Nelson just re-injured his hamstring in Sunday's win over the Vikings.
It is now up to Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and Israel Idonije to step up their games and force turnovers like they did in the first half of the season. Take care of Minnesota on Sunday and you get a chance to retake the divison lead on Dec. 16, the last home regular season game.