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Pre-Gamer: Bears at Packers

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Pre-Gamer: Bears at Packers

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CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Israel Idonije #71 of the Chicago Bears runs onto the field during player introductions before a game against the New York Jets at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Israel Idonije

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-- Will they play? The question of the day is will Lovie Smith play the starters, considering the Bears don't have much to play for? Smith promises that he will, but don't expect to see the starters in if the game gets out of hand.

-- Healthy as a horse
: For the most part, the Bears are walking into today's game without injuries. Earl Bennett, one of the Bears hottest receivers, for much of the season, missed practices with an ankle injury. Pisa Tinoisamoa and Olin Kreutz both had limited participation, but their names were taken off the injury report. The Packers aren't as healthy. Cullen Jenkins, Atari Bigby, Frank Bombo and Korey Hall have all been ruled out.

-- Which defense will show up? The Bears D has been all over the map lately. In the first half against the Jets, they allowed 24 points. In the second half, they limited the Jets to 10, including just a field goal in the crucial fourth quarter. Heading into the playoffs, it will be telling to see if the overwhelming, chaos-causing defense shows up, or the one who allows teams to rack up first downs.

-- Playoff implications
: The Bears have the playoffs and the first-round bye locked up, but they can get the first seed, which means home field advantage throughout the playoffs and the lowest-seeded opponent in week two, if the Falcons (vs. Carolina) and Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans) and the Bears win. They will also knock the Packers out of the playoffs with a win. If the Bears do allow the Packers in, there's a good chance the Bears could face the Pack in the post-season.

-- Mild Peppers: Julius Peppers has struggled of late, only getting six tackles and zero sacks in the last two games. He could have another tough match-up today, as he will be lined up against Pro Bowler Chad Clifton.

-- Hester's bes
t: Of his 14 return touchdowns, Devin Hester has two against Green Bay. One came earlier this season, which broke Hester's two-season long return TD drought. The Packers, like every Bears opponent, promise not to kick it to him, but that's easier said than done. Rookie punter Tim Masthay may have a hard time getting it done.

-- Record watch: Matt Forte needs 22 rushing yards for a 1,000-yard season, and 13 receiving yards for a 500-yard season. Johnny Knox needs 40 yards to get to 1,000, and the way he and Cutler have been connecting, that could come in one pass. With a win, the Bears will have swept the NFC North.

-- History lesson
: This will be the 180th match-up of the Bears and Packers, the oldest rivalry in the NFL. The Bears lead the series 91-82-6.

-- Weather report: To the shock of no one, it's cold in northern Wisconsin in January. Game time temperature is expected to be 16 degrees, but the skies should be sunny.
 

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