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Date: Monday, December 28, 2009.
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Rarely is a game between a "have" and "have-not" this attractive so late in the season.
The Vikings clinched the NFC North last week, but they need to win this week to stay ahead of Philadelphia in the chase for a first-round playoff bye.
There is also some intrigue because quarterback Brett Favre and coach Brad Childress seemed at odds over playing time in last week's loss to Carolina. Favre used to dominate in cold weather and in Chicago, but in recent years he has become much less effective in the cold, and he lost his last start in the Windy City with Green Bay in 2007.
The Vikings have lost two of their last three games and do not appear to be playing as effectively on defense as they were earlier in the year. So they'll need to turn it around for the playoffs.
The Bears lost 30-10 to the Vikings in November at the Metrodome, but the biggest reason to watch from a Chicago perspective is not their attempt to get back at a division rival. The controversies surrounding Lovie Smith, his coaching staff and general manager Jerry Angelo, as well as the continuing interception problems of quarterback Jay Cutler, make for a complete soap opera. Many playoff teams aren't this interesting.
Smith could be in danger of losing his job after the team was blown out by Cincinnati, Arizona, Minnesota and Baltimore. When given the chance to provide the coach a vote of confidence, Angelo said Smith and his staff would be evaluated after the season. Angelo and his own staff could be in trouble because of the ineffectiveness of numerous draft choices and Cutler. The quarterback's 25 interceptions seem to be the rope that could be the demise of Smith and his staff -- if not Angelo and his staff.