By now, we already know the deal. The Vikings need to lose Sunday. The Bears need to win. And a bunch of other stuff could happen -- the Falcons, Bucs, Cowboys and Eagles could all lose, that sort of thing -- and the Bears could still find a way to sneak into the playoffs. The scenarios are manifold, but the end result is the same. The Bears need to win. The Vikings need to lose.
So the Bears' game with the Packers Sunday is top of mind, but for the reasons mentioned above. Here's our question, then: Is the rivalry itself still a big deal to fans? Do we care as much anymore? Or has Bears-Packers faded -- the result of new blood, younger fans, and a more pragmatic approach to football fandom?
Next Monday night - at home - we bury our most bitter of rivals. We carve the double digits on the "L" side of their season's tombstone. We kick their a--es hard if we need the game and even harder if we don't - taking out a season highlighted by frustrating losses on them. Why? Because we're still wearing orange and navy and they're still wearing p--- and puke. That's why. Because twice a year we care a little more about these games despite the playoff implications. They do not come to Soldier Field and win.
Harsh words, but the sort usually reserved for bitter rivals, and that's what the Packers are. Still, part of us thinks the rivalry has lost some of its luster, that the old adage -- that as long as the Bears beat the Packers twice, they could lose the rest of their season and still call it a succcessful year -- doesn't apply anymore. Why is that? What changed about our fandom, if anything, to make us care less about this game? Are sports less provincial now? Is it Brett Farve's absence? We can't get our heads around it, but it just feels less ... angry. The rivalry's blood is less boiled.
Maybe it's just us, but we want the Bears to beat the Packers so they can go to the playoffs and keep playing football. Not just because they're the Packers.
What do you think?