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Dublin: 16 °C Monday 1 September, 2014

The Redzone: With no Jay, the Bears’ playoff hopes are squashed

After five straight wins, the Bears may be the hottest team in the NFL. However, with Jay Cutler out for six weeks, Steven O’Rourke thinks it’s difficult to see the Bears reaching the playoffs.

Corey Graham intercepts a pass.
Corey Graham intercepts a pass.

San Diego Chargers 20 @ Chicago Bears 31
DURING THEIR NFL coverage on Sunday evening, Sky Sports analyst and former Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follet admitted that Jay Cutler was his favourite quarterback to hit. Cutler’s crime was wearing a smirk on his face when he played.

It’s a problem a lot of NFL fans have with Cutler. He’s not the easiest person to like. He has a reputation for being lazy, for not having enough heart. Worse still, that smirk, and the seemingly unjustified self-belief that comes with it, leads to a lot of hate.

Criticism of the Bears QB reached a crescendo during last season’s NFC Championship game when Cutler sat out the second half with injury. Many people, NFL players included, questioned whether it was Cutler’s heart, rather than his injured knee, that kept him on the sidelines.

This season though, after a rocky start, Cutler has shown that he is not lacking in physical and mental toughness. Despite enduring 23 sacks, Cutler has now led the Bears to five consecutive wins, a 7-3 record and a chance of a playoff spot.

However, Cutler’s decision to chase the Chargers’ Antoine Cason, who had just picked off the Bears QB, could prove a costly one, as it’s been confirmed that he broke the thumb in his throwing hand doing so.

Sorry Bears fans but surgery and six weeks out means your team’s playoff hopes are virtually over.

Don’t get me wrong, Caleb Hanie is not a terrible quarterback and you still have Matt Forte in the backfield. However, defensive co-ordinators will simply send eight men into the box to stop the run and force Hanie, who has just 14 regular season pass attempts, to win games through the air.

That’s a lot to expect from someone so unfamiliar with the pressure that comes with playing week in and week out in the NFL. However, with Kansas City, Denver and Seattle still on the schedule, the Bears have a chance.

The playoffs would have been almost certain had Cutler not injured himself but, for now at least, those questions about his heart and toughness may have gone away.

Watch highlights from this game here.

Performance of the week
In March this year, the Detroit Lions decided they no longer needed Kevin Smith and cut their former third round pick.

Three weeks ago, the Lions re-signed Smith following Jahvid Best’s second concussion of the season and boy did he reward them last Sunday.

While it’s unlikely Smith will ever score three touchdowns, run for 140 yards and catch four passes for 61 yards in a game again, he helped the Lions keep their playoff dreams alive.

More importantly, because I signed him to my fantasy team at 16.55 last Sunday, he became my new favourite player. 38 points will always influence your opinion.

Watch his highlights here.

Play of the week
As much as I love blocked punts (take a bow Chris Clemons of the Miami Dolphins), I’m an even bigger fan of backfield trickery.

Therefore, this week’s play of the week goes to the Seahawks’ Sidney Rice, who tried his hand at quarterback during Seattle’s 24-7 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Watch it here.

Full results:

  • New York Jets 13 @ Denver Broncos 17
  • Jacksonville Jaguars 10 @ Cleveland 14
  • Carolina Panthers 35 @ Detroit Lions 49
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 @ Green Bay Packers 35
  • Buffalo Bills 8 @ Miami Dolphins 35
  • Oakland Raiders 27 @ Minnesota Vikings 21
  • Dallas Cowboys 27 @ Washington Redskins 24
  • Arizona Cardinals 7 @ San Francisco 49ers 23
  • Seattle Seahawks 24 @ St. Louis Rams 7
  • Tennessee Titans 17 @ Atlanta Falcons 23
  • San Diego Chargers 20 @ Chicago Bears 31
  • Philadelphia Eagles 17 @ New York Giants 10
  • Kansas City Chiefs 3 @ New England Patriots 24

Steven O’Rourke is the Offensive Co-ordinator of Tullamore PhoenixAmerican Football Club, winners of the IAFL DV8s national title in 2010 and 2011. Tullamore are always recruiting new players so, if you’d like to play football and not just read about it, Steven would love to hear from you.

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