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News » Need a help-in hand


Need a help-in hand


Need a help-in hand
It won't be enough for the Bears to win in Houston today. They also will need some help if they want to make the playoffs.


The Bears' most direct route to the postseason is by beating the Texans and having the Minnesota Vikings lose at home to the New York Giants. That would give the Bears the NFC North title.

If the Vikings beat the Giants to win the NFC North, the Bears also can reach the playoffs as a wild-card team if they beat the Texans, the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose to the Oakland Raiders and the visiting Dallas Cowboys lose to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here's a quick look at the games to monitor on the scoreboard:

Giants at Vikings

The Vikings' magic number is one. They need a victory or a Bears loss to clinch the NFC North title. They can't get into the playoffs as a wild-card team if they lose because the winner of the game between the Cowboys and Eagles is assured to finish above them.

The big question in this game is whether the Giants will play to win or opt to rest some of their better players because they already are assured of the top seed in the NFC playoffs. It's an interesting dilemma, but coach Tom Coughlin seems to understand a couple of things. First, he's from the Bill Parcells school of Football, which says you try to win, regardless of the situation. Second, he knows a team has to be at its best in the playoffs.

The Giants have been far from that during the last quarter of the season. Their overtime victory last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers was their first triumph in three games. Does Coughlin really want the Giants to go into the playoffs having won only one of their last four games?

The Vikings already have blown one opportunity to clinch the NFC North, fumbling seven times and losing four of them in a home loss last Sunday to the Atlanta Falcons. Coach Brad Childress will stick with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, but Gus Frerotte will be ready to come in if the young starter melts down.

Raiders at Buccaneers

The Raiders can trace their decline to their Super Bowl loss to the Bucs at the end of the 2002 season. They have been in a death spiral ever since, losing at least 11 games for six consecutive seasons.

The Raiders are crossing the country to face a superior opponent, but their running game is ranked 10th in the NFL behind Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden. Young quarterback JaMarcus Russell has shown signs of improvement the last few weeks, but he might be overmatched here.

The Bucs, meanwhile, looked like a sure thing for the playoffs when they jumped out to a 9-3 start, but they have allowed an average of 31 points and 402 yards per game in losing three in a row. They led or were tied in the fourth quarter in all three of those losses.

Cowboys at Eagles

The Cowboys face a win-and-they're-in scenario, but they've lost their last seven regular-season finales. Coach Wade Phillips' future might hang in the balance, but the guy on the spot is quarterback Tony Romo, who is facing heavy criticism from Cowboys fans for his 5-9 record in December and January. Romo has thrown 16 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions and has been sacked 34 times in those 14 games.

This game starts at 3:15 p.m., so the Eagles will know if their long-shot playoff chances are dead by the time it kicks off. Nonetheless, the teams are rivals, and this might be the last time coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb are together with the Eagles.

The Eagles looked as though they had their act together, but they faltered last Sunday in Washington. Now they need a lot of help.

Comment at suntimes.com.

- - -

Math Class

31%Probability the Bears will get the help they need, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants money lines. According to LVSC, the Giants are 26 percent to beat the Vikings, the Raiders are 12.5 percent to beat the Bucs and the Eagles are 53.5 percent to beat the Cowboys. The odds of either

the Giants winning or both the Raiders and Eagles winning is

0.26 + (0.125 x 0.535) -

0.26 (0.125 x 0.535) = 0.309,

or 31 percent. Of course,

this says nothing about whether the Bears will beat the Texans. It only calculates the odds that when all is said and done, the Bears game will have mattered.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 28, 2008

Dan Klecko Name: Dan Klecko
#68
Position: DL
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: Temple
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