PFW associate editor Dan Parr gives his stock analysis of the Bears and identifies who, or what, is on the rise or decline following their Week 14 loss to the Broncos.
Frustration — The Bears blew a 10-0 lead to the Broncos and MLB Brian Urlacher sounded bitter about it after the game, taking a swipe at Tim Tebow by calling him "a good running back." The Bears were playing great before Jay Cutler broke his thumb and now injuries and mental errors by Marion Barber most likely have cost them a chance to make the playoffs. That's a tough pill to swallow for a veteran team that knows how precious those opportunities are.
Craig Steltz — Steltz had a very solid game starting in place of injured SS Major Wright. Steltz was credited with making five tackles, including one for loss, and had a strip-sack of Tim Tebow, which was recovered by DE Israel Idonije. Coverage isn't his strength, but Steltz is a good tackler and can help a team playing inside the box. He gave his stock a small boost ahead of free agency this offseason.
Specialists — PK Robbie Gould and P Adam Podlesh are having great seasons, and they had one of their most impressive performances of the year Sunday in the thin air at Mile High. Gould made a 57-yard field goal — a franchise record for longest FG made — and he had enough on the kick to make it from 60-plus yards. Podlesh was busy Sunday, punting 11 times for 526 yards (47.8 average, 39.4 net), and he pinned the Broncos inside their 20-yard line four times. LS Chris Massey, in his second game with the Bears, got in on the act, too, recording a team-high three special-teams tackles.
Hope — The Bears are on the outside looking in when it comes to the NFC playoff picture, trailing the Falcons and Lions (who both won Sunday) by a game. Chicago's postseason prospects look as dim as ever after the devastating collapse in Denver. Games against the Seahawks (Week 15) and Vikings (Week 17) look winnable, but the Bears are routinely losing the winnable games and nine wins probably isn't going to be enough to make the playoffs this season.
Marion Barber — Sunday was Barber's first 100-yard game in more than two years, but his crucial errors late in the game cost the Bears a win. With the Broncos out of timeouts and the Bears leading 10-7, he failed to stay inbounds on a run coming out of the two-minute warning. It gave the Broncos more than 30 seconds that they otherwise would not have had if he had just gone down inbounds. Then, Barber fumbled on a 3rd-and-7 run in overtime with the Bears at the Broncos' 38-yard line. Denver's offense took over and drove into field-goal range, where Matt Prater kicked the game-winner.
Earl Bennett's targets — Bennett has basically disappeared since signing a contract extension a couple weeks ago. The Bears obviously feel strongly about his future, but he doesn't appear to have much of a rapport with Caleb Hanie. Bennett was targeted only once against the Broncos and he didn't have a catch after making one catch for five yards in each of the previous two games.
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