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- More from Mike Imrem
Crank up that Bears bandwagon and bring on them dang Packers.
"We have a big game next week," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said.
Big game? The Bears and Packers? Who can remember the last time both these rivals looked like at least division pretenders, much less contenders?
The Packers are 2-0, as was expected of a team picked by many to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
But my goodness, the Bears also are 2-0 after Sunday's 27-20 victory at Dallas - surprising for a team picked by many to start the season 1-3 at best.
With the Vikings 0-2 and Brett Favre looking twice his age, the Bears and the Packers share the NFC North lead.
What's next, Jim Belushi competing with Tom Hanks for an Oscar?
Seriously, the Bears still have much to prove, but give Lovie Smith some preliminary credit. The Bears' head coach insisted in his maddening manner after last week's pukey victory over the Lions that the Bears are a good team.
Few believed him. Some probably still don't. Most probably still shouldn't.
The Bears haven't exactly beaten two teams at the top of the NFL, or even at the top of their own games.
After losing to the Eagles, the Lions are 2-32 in their last 34 games; after losing to the Bears, the Cowboys are 0-2 and looking dysfunctional with a Big D.
Funny how this works, too.
Last week the Bears whipped Detroit statistically and barely won. This week they lost the yardage/first down battle to Dallas yet clearly outplayed the Cowboys.
As usual, mistakes made the difference. The Bears committed 4 turnovers and 9 penalties for 100 yards against the Lions. The count was zero turnovers and 2 penalties for 10 yards against the Cowboys.
"You want to make improvements," Smith said, "and normally there's a big improvement in the second game."
Don't mention that to the Cowboys. They were as sloppy against the Bears as they were a week earlier at Washington.
The Bears had a lot to do with Dallas' futility. Cornerback D.J. Moore, invisible last season as a rookie, emerged against Dallas by intercepting 2 passes.
Overall on defense, for a change the Bears' defense hit like Bears defenses are supposed to, striking fear into Dallas receivers daring to roam into the secondary.
"I would be conscious of those (collisions) too," Smith said. "Coming over the middle, catching a little dink pass - you have to think about getting hit."
The Bears' offense blended mental toughness with the defense's physical toughness, surviving the early loss of left tackle Chris Williams to injury and pretty much keeping the Cowboys off Cutler.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz made adjustments, maximized his unit's strengths and kept Dallas off balance with his playcalling.
So who'd have thunk it? Who'd have given the Bears a chance to start 2-0 after going an ugly 0-4 during the preseason? Who'd have believed Game 3 would turn into a big one at Green Bay on Monday Night Football?
Some thought the Bears' season would be winding down already, but it might be just beginning.
"We have to start getting ready for (Green Bay)," Cutler said.
You can almost hear the crank turning.