Vikings Tackles Suspended; Bears Reap Benefits

Loss of Williams twins boosts Bears' chances

Steroid use in the NFL isn't something we often hear about, and when we do, it doesn't seem like the NFL's fans care all that much. It certainly doesn't have the high profile of baseball's steroids problem, even though it's arguable that the gains to be made from performance enhancers relative to each sport are far greater in football than in anything else. What other sport relies so heavily on combining strength, speed, and fast-twitch?

In any case, while we don't hear much about steroids, or performance enhancers in general, when they do crop up, the NFL's policy has one significant advantage to MLB's former rules -- the NFL suspends their players immediately. Such is the case with Kevin and Pat Williams, the two gigantic, hole-clogging defensive tackles in Minnesota. Few defensive lines are as stalwart as the Vikings; and the Williamses are the reason why. And now they're suspended, along with four other players (Saints running back Deuce McAllister, Saints defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant and Texans long snapper Bryan Pittman) for using the diuretic StarCaps, one of those funky weight-loss supplements that people also worry are sometimes to used to mask the effects of steroids.

In an obvious general way, a bunch of NFC players getting suspended for cheating is a great thing for the Bears. The NFL is a tightly strung economy, and artificially weakening a team in ways beyond "personnel" decisions means every team without a suspended player gains marginally. But in a more specific (and less economical way), the Williams' suspension is as huge for the Bears as, well, as the Williams twins themselves.

At 6-6, the Bears need some help. The theory is that a 10-6 record is a playoff guarantee, and to get there, the Vikings (at 7-5 after their 34-14 win over the Bears Sunday) will need to start losing. Losing the best two defensive tackles in the NFL in one fell swoop is a pretty decent start, right?

Like we said: huge. It's a 750-pound suspension, and the Bears are set to reap to benefits.

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