It's being called the "underachiever bowl." And if a Monday night football game could be flexed, you know ESPN would be overjoyed to do so.
The 5 and 8 Bears - already eliminated from playoff consideration - and the 5 and 8 Saints - who amazingly aren't. On what's forecast to be a cold and dreary night, how many Bears fans will turn out to cheer for a team that's playing a third straight nationally televised game having dropped its last two to Dallas and Detroit? Besides their records, the Saints and Bears were both serenaded by their disgruntled home fans with boos and catcalls in one-sided defeats in their most recent losses.
The Bears have virtually ignored the run in their last two defeats, rushing it 15 and 8 times. But they should be encouraged to do so Monday night, having seen the Saints defense shredded by the Panthers' Jonathan Stewart, who became the fourth running back this season to rush for more than 148 yards against New Orleans.
Statistically, the Saints are equally inept at stopping the pass. But the Bears might be wise to take the ball out of Jay Cutler's hands in the absence of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Cutler's propensity for throwing interceptions -15 of them - second only to the Jaguars' Blake Bortles.
The Bears just have pride to play for. The Saints have both pride and playoffs to play for. Neither has really been motivated by either.