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Smith must emphasize magnitude of final two games

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 22, 2010 @ 8:27 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Each Wednesday throughout the season we'll identify one player, coach or area of the team that is most under the microscope. This week, it's head coach Lovie Smith.

No matter what happens the rest of the way, the Bears will play at least one playoff game at Soldier Field, and Smith has done a fine job in leading the team to a division title. But if he allows himself, his staff or his players to get too content with what they've accomplished, their season could come to a less-than-satisfying finish.

As Smith pointed out at his press conference on Wednesday, the Bears still have something to play for in the regular season.

They're in position to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC, which would give them a bye in the first round of the playoffs, but the Eagles are also still in contention for the second seed. If Philadelphia wins out, defeating Minnesota and Dallas, and the Bears lose one of their remaining games against the Jets and Packers, it will be Philly that enjoys a first-round bye while the Bears' road to the Super Bowl would become one game longer.

There were a lot of smiling faces at Halas Hall on Wednesday, and Smith mentioned how nice it was to see his players and principal owner Virginia McCaskey wearing the hats that said "2010 NFC North champions" after the win over the Vikings Monday night.

The celebratory mood will be short-lived, however, if the Bears don't finish a good season strong against two quality opponents. Smith has to make sure his players understand that and make sure they're well-prepared for the remaining regular-season battles.

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