Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears returns a punt in front of teammates Charles Tillman #33 and Craig Steltz #20 against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field on December 4, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
To keep playoff dreams alive, the Bears have to stop their tailspin against the red-hot Broncos in Denver on Sunday. They have equal records, but the Broncos aren't dealing with debilitating injuries like the Bears. What do you need to know before kickoff on Sunday?
Offense? What offense? The two biggest stars on offense are sidelined by injury, so the Bears will have to figure out what to do without Matt Forte and Jay Cutler. Marion Barber and Caleb Hanie will fill in. So far, they have not done enough to get the Bears to a win. Their added pressure this week is that the Broncos are the kings of comebacks. The defense can't be worn out from having to be on the field all game like they have been the past two weeks.
Turnovers Have to Happen: Bears have 17 takeaways in the last six games, but lost the turnover battle in the last two games. Forcing turnovers is key to getting a win. They are 3-0 this season when the defense scores, and considering the state of the offense, the defense adding points isn't a luxury.
They ain't never scared: Tim Tebow is an inescapable phenomenon, but the Bears defense has no fear. Lance Briggs complimented Tebow before saying, pointing out that the Bears have faced other quarterbacks who can run. Craig Steltz played -- and beat -- Tebow in college.
Stopping Von: Rookie linebacker Von Miller has 11 sacks. He will be playing with a cast due to his injured thumb, but it's unlikely that he will be slowed down by that injury. Caleb Hanie was sacked seven times by the Chiefs last week, so the Bears O line has to do better or Hanie will not stay upright.
Punters vs. Hester: Devin Hester been nursing ankle problems, while Britton Colquitt is one of the main reasons why the Broncos have a top-five special teams unit. Their battles on Sunday could decide the game. Hester's last touchdown was against the Lions, and his three-game stretch without a return for a TD is the longest he's had all season.
Mile-high Game: The Bears will have to deal with the effects of altitude on Sunday as well as the Broncos. Lovie Smith does not expect for it to create any difficulties. "What altitude?" Smith asked. "It's no factor for us. Conditioning isn't a big thing with us. [We're in] great shape, ready to go. That won't be a factor."
History lesson: Bears hold a 7-6 edge in their series with the Broncos. Their last game was an overtime win for Chicago in 2007, with Charles "Peanut" Tillman blocking a punt to help the Bears come back in the fourth quarter.